The sun, on its way up, did little yet to drive away the darkness from Mohana’s nightmare of a life with her husband, Chandra!
Mohana, hot cup of coffee in hand, was leaning against the balcony rails and staring at the horizon. The rising sun used to mesmerize her. She remembered her home and her parents from seemingly eons back. Those sunrises from that terrace resonating with the playful thuds of her hopping and skipping childhood years had actually been long suppressed in the dark horizons of forgotten memories.
Her only daughter, Mitu had left for college the previous week. Mitu saw her college education more as a way to get away from a home echoing a speechless fear. And after all these years Mohana was suddenly left with a lot of time….. to think about herself and her miserable life. The process had been on for one whole enlightening week.
Chandra was a morose person, completely self-absorbed. He earned enough to have a financially stable family but could never give love enough, to ensure an emotionally stable one. Rather what he could give were things that no wife would want - abuse, abuse and only abuse -physical as well as mental - shutting all the sunlight out of her life, eventually compelling her to grow numb to the heaviness of it all.
She remembered that cursed night when Chandra had come home drunk, the first time after marriage. It was sheer torture of a night for Mohana. Chandra had never been gentle in the release of his passion but that day it was as if some kind of a frenetic brute was devouring her fragility. She felt love and hope pounded out of her in the crass rhythm of that ugly revelation of a night.
The next morning she awoke with a sore body and memories of the never ending darkness that seemed to threaten her entire being with its devilish Shadow.
Truly, her sun had never brought in any more glorious dawn to her life since then. They were all bereft of promise thereafter.
Behind closed doors Chandra would become an aggressive personality. Beating the lights out of Mohana gave him some insane pleasure. He smiled cruelly as she would cower by the bedside while he rained the blows and kicks. No one could imagine how cruel he could be during his moments of monstrosity.
That day when Mohana became a victim of physical abuse the first time, she couldn't comprehend it properly. She thought it would only be an isolated incident in her married life, its memory coming back to haunt her from time to time. She would forgive this quick-to-temper husband of hers. Little did she know it would be the norm of her life thereon.
She remembered how helpless she had felt the day Chandra had caught a terrified 2 year old shrieking Mitu with one hand and raised his belt with the other. Mohana had protested his brute love-making that night and he had decided to get even. He knew which weak nerve to press. She had run to Mitu, embraced her and let her warmth melt away the unfamiliar fears of her child as she folded her hands in mute plea to her husband. He thus made it loud and clear how it would go thereon, if spurned.
Mitu grew up distant from her father and with more of sympathy rather than love for her mother. In some way, she considered her mother responsible for it all.
‘Don't you have a voice? Can you not get us away from it all?’
She could, but only if she had been alone in it all. She could never risk Mitu’s well being. What if….?
Mohana was an educated woman. If not for a dominating husband, who insisted on marrying a homemaker, she would have been a successful banker by now. But her parents had thought positively then, that she would live a queen’s life and never have to work.
Turns out they thought wrong!
Mohana kept quiet about the abuse. But the bruises and puffed eyes gave her away. When her mother noticed for the first time, she was shocked.
'But he's so mild mannered. Just try to do things better, not make him angry.'
She sighed and did just that- try. And that's when the reasons changed to a wrong suit kept out for office, too much of salt in the sabji, a shirt not pressed properly, the placing of the broom - it kept getting bizarre and the abuse darker.
Did not take long for Mohana to understand, all that was needed were excuses, not reasons. It would never stop!
Mohana shut her eyes tight to stop the ugly thoughts. She returned to the present reality, absent mindedly taking a sip of her black coffee, realising it had gone cold.
She looked back at the sleeping figure of Chandra on the bed. He had been a failure of a father, of a husband, of a son. True the beatings had now come down but not ceased yet. Chandra kept busy with work while continuing to make his home the catharsis ground of his average middle class pot-bellied life.
A mother knows no fear, if not for her loved ones. With Mitu gone, Mohana knew she could kick away the shackles. They had wrung the life juices out of her far too long and far beyond forbearance. She had to reach out for joy. She might be stumbling initially but eventually she would get a hold over it. Surely, she could try and claim her share of ….. herself.
Quietly she changed and slipped out of the room with the bare essentials in her bag. As she made her way out of the serpentine alley to her house, her eyes locked with the young man’s recently come to live next door. He was jogging back home and smiled n nodded. How come she had never noticed before? He WAS handsome. And she smiled feebly at that trivial thought.
But what would she do now? Well something. There's always something. Right now she simply had to keep walking.
She seemed ready to be consumed by the confusion and the noise of the Universe. She wouldn't resist it anymore. She was ready to embrace all the uncertainty.
Today she felt no burden of 'what if'. She was prepared to take the leap.
She had decided to go to Bangalore, a faraway city she had chosen. She had spoken to her friend Sonia. Sonia ran a school there. Some arrangement would be made.
'Is it possible?' she had asked Sonia. And like the raindrops coaxes out the hiding seed inside the withering Earth, one woman decided to ease the fears of another and give her hope, give her life.
"Mohana, another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe."
“The question is, luv, ‘Are YOU ready?’.”
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