(trigger warning: mention of abuse)
“Sudha was only 3”, then she said. Continuing she added, “it was afternoon and everyone burped, and slept in their comfortable clothes, while the women of the home had no option but to do work. that is us, we had to do the utensils. or expect abuse in domestic or emotional forms. The little bandicoot kept calling me ‘aai majhyasi khelaa na aai’ (mom! Play with me no, mom!). She pleaded and cried. For hours and, I, ignored her. I had to clean the utensils and plates and do everything or just not expect life to make way. After I was done with them, I went to her in the front yard from where she was screaming. Asked women outside the house, with my breath pacing. “sudhli tithe aahe ka?”(is Sudha there?) I restlessly look for her. As far as I can go, wherever I feel she must have reached playing. The breaths pacing faster, and so the beats now. But what I did was to go back home, helpless. Covering the helplessness with an invisible mask so that there’s no violence of a person lost from the house. It took my entire heart, and sweat to pretend. and I did. I made tea for everyone, served to them, and somehow managed to go farther from the places I had searched. Farther from the house. At Nathya’s whose daughter played with Sudha. At Savitri’s who was like my sister and really fond of Sudha. At Shirke kaka’s who got her sour candies at a penny lesser than he gave to other kids. I finally found a solitude, but not my daughter. Having all kinds of thoughts. ‘what if she might’ve left me? What if she was mad at me for not being with her and accompanying her? What if she was kidnapped or harassed? What if she was trafficked?’ I cried finally, as the pace of my heart refused to anymore remain in the mask I had.
Savitri too had been restless and crossed my way then, to the entrance step of the empty house dusty. She asked me ‘tu ithe kaay karti aahes? Sudhli iti kaay paryant honnar’ (what are you doing here? Why would sudha come here’) I raged and said, ‘teen varshaanchi aahe ti, teen!’ (she is three years old, three!) stressing on teen. I had no hope except god. And the help and pleads felt helpless and lifeless but they survived a place. When she was found out by, my own husband. she came, and before letting me speak spoke, that “baba aanni mi khupch khedlla” (I played a lot with dad today, mom!) in her little known Marathi, which she was only still learning and caught quite well.
It put my heart restless, everything was normal. But there was a built fear inside me, which I couldn’t overcome. Soon enough, only she grew it seems. And today we are here. With her not being bordered by norms. Neither by anything else. She lives, and supports me, to find solace which I didn’t attain in my adolescence, at my in-laws’ and with this fear of losing a piece of heart so close to me” said Mrs. Raaje, at her first therapy session today. Making me realize, how important are mothers, their feelings, and how oppression is not big or small it’s just terrible, how daughters are the best, how it’s okay to resume and correct everything and find peace or solutions at any point in your life. And I then continued to talk to her in a few sessions and more about her feelings. She was a role model which we don’t see on billboards, perhaps the height of the billboards would be shorter to morals she possessed. Cherishing the good thoughts, and inspiration loads I smiled to myself and went about only with my day and my pet plant pots.
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