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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Bitch.

 My first short story.Theme inspired by a work of S.ra.



the BITCH


The Bridge

S
he stood there. The evening was fading in front of her eye, in the distance she saw the sun getting drowned into the sea, she was wondering if the retiring sun floated as liquid on top of the ocean.She was looking at the end of horizon and there was a vast line made up of bright orange filling up the distance between the sky and the sea. Behind her little shoulders grew a few arcs of concrete, semi circular patterns painted in white, she was standing on an old bridge connecting the city divided by the dirty river, standing on the platform of the bridge somewhere near the exact center, her legs were close to the edge of the tiled platform, and her hands firmly holding the steel railings. Although she couldn’t see, she could hear the maddening traffic flowing across the road. Behind her there was clatter and noise, but she was lost in the sight of the sea and the river that she almost forgot the real world behind. The place looked different than usual. Everything had a tint of orange on it, a few fishing boats were entering the distant sea for the night haul, a few kids were washing their buttocks on the rising waves, and below the place she stood flowed the dirty river of the city which transported the wastes of city into the sea. She felt even the dark river carrying the physical sins glowed beautifully under the gaze of the orange sky. She wished she could walk away from her body and look at herself from a distance, she wondered how would she look then? An angel who celebrated holi with the sky? Like an orange monster in the cartoons? The thought made her smile, a gentle smile. When the smile ended her face became tighter than ever, her empty eyes bore no meanings, with a stern visage she dismissed the thought of a happy woman playing holi or a monster in orange which looked funny. Inside her heart she knew that she was neither one of them. She was just a lonely woman standing on the deserted platforms of an old bridge, looking at the beauty which doesn’t exist in reality. In sometime the sky will fade to emptiness, in sometime the yellow will be replaced by the black, and she will be walking back into the real world into the pathways of the most exciting and toughest night of her life. She knew she is just a bomb flying on the wings of the warplane, the peace is temporary; in sometime there will be a blast.

The time was nearing six. In some time the city will get back to its shelter. She needed more time before leaving the place she still stood there, the lines on her face and the grey hairs which visibly floated on her head revealed her age, she was middle aged, some would bet she was 45 and some 35, but nobody could guess her exact age. The clouds looking at her knew that she looked beautiful or she would have looked better in her young age, she was leaner than the average middle aged Indian woman and somehow she didn’t exactly fit into the template of aunty for the kids next door. Her eyes were still caught up into the horizon. A sweaty wind blew from the west carrying the smell of the defecated wastes. She wished she could feel a cold breeze all through her body, she wished she could stand nude in front of the breeze, she really wished she could, but she was bolstered by the old brown saree which was wound around her, she hated the saree since she remembered but still she wore it. She looked around, the platforms still looked empty an old beggar with smothered limbs was crawling from the north of the bridge, she looked at him, she kept looking at him and like an illusion she felt that it was her body that was crawling towards her. When he shouted “amma” and lifted his handicapped limb, she knew it wasn’t her. She kept staring at him in silence and he bent down avoiding her gaze, then she opened her hand bag which she had been using for nearly a decade, which should have been a property of the begging man below her feet. Today the bag was worth being called one, inside the third compartment there lied a bundle of rupees totalling to 8000, it was the day of her salary. She took a hundred rupee note from the bundle and gave it to him, he looked back at her, the man knew this was not an act of generosity, she didn't look like the woman who would waste rupees on an old beggar, not like the aristocratic woman who glanced him from the closed windows of luxury cars, she looked very much like a woman of the downtown, living in crowded homes, mending old sarees, living to save for the future, she looked like a middle-class woman. He would have agreed if she had given him 50 paisa, even a 2 rupees from her would have been a surprise. He took the note and saved it in his pockets, he crawled towards the other end of the bridge, he looked back at her after he crossed a safe distance, she was staring back at him. He avoided her and crawled faster but he knew that something was really very unusual with the women he just met.

She glanced through her old brown shoulder bag, it had four compartments in it and the cloth covering the third and the fourth was torn since long time and logically now it had only three. She remembered it had been a long since she browsed through her bag, she had never given it enough attention she felt, it was just a handbag and it served the purpose of a handbag. Old, torn, faded brown bag, still hanging around because it can still be used till it was disposed, she felt that her bag is a symbolism of her own life, what she was to her family the bag was to her, she smiled again, it was just a simple smile void of joy. She placed the bag on the railing, she opened the first zip and waved her hands inside the darkness of the bag, there were a few visiting cards lying down in a corner she lifted them up, she thought all the people whom she knew, she glanced thro them, one was that of a dental doctor she visited, next was that of a mortgage shop where she pledged her jewellery before a few years, jewels that were smouldered from her moms old jewels for her marriage, she could never get back them from mortgage, then there were a few more one of that of a plumbing shop, then a photo studio, then an optician. She was wondering how she had so many cards she didn’t remember how she got them, the number of people she knew was way less than the number of cards in her hands, as she glanced she found a card and her eyes were reluctant to move away, it was a pale yellowish white card and the name read Dinakaran, Accountant, Bank of India. She wondered how all visiting cards looked so innocent, they never reveal anything about the person, like an ancient messenger they conveyed the news to their masters and stood quiet, these cards never revealed the beyond the name, not the person, his hypocrisy, his cruelty, his face beyond his masks. She held the card in the empty space between the fingers of both her hands; the card again read the name aloud. Dinakaran. Her Husband. Her sole proprietor. The man to whom she was married for nearly two decades now, the man who was the father of her two children, a man who was looking at her at wrong places when she was asked to speak to him in a separate room, a man for whom a wife is just a wife who served the purpose of being a wife, a man who monstrously made love to her when she lied idle looking at the lizard which crossed the ceiling, a man for whom the wife is a package or a handbag which had compartments, one holding a mother, one holding a servant, and one holding a prostitute, a man for whom love is just the kiss given before orgasm, a man who till date knew nothing about her, her likes her dislikes, nothing, a man just like any other man who served the purpose of being a man. She packed the cards and placed them aside, there was nothing much in the first compartment except a few bundles of kum-kum offered to her by her colleagues as a gesture of good will, she thought of God, a god whom she kept praying all her life for hope, a god who denounced her. Then a few bills and slips, a few pieces of paper, and the torn cover of a Tamil magazine, she took them and placed with the cards, in the second compartment there were a few coins of singular denominations and an unused sanitary napkin, covering the most of the second compartment was her tiffin box. She thought that all her life was only a search for the food inside the steel box, she took it out the curd rice which she cooked at the last minute before leaving to office was still there now it had become very crusty and thick, she took a little and tasted her food, it tasted good it has not acquired the brackish taste of late curd, but she was in no mood to eat, she placed the tiffin box near the cards and the waste papers and started searching the last compartment, it was almost empty, well almost. There was a mobile phone, a really old one which her husband gave it to her after the keys were damaged. She took it out and placed it on the other side, the side opposite to where she placed the visiting cards and the tiffin box, then on the corner of the bag lay the bundle of notes which made the bag worth, which made her worth, a bundle with 80 new and old hundred rupee notes, no she said to herself, there were only 79 of them. She lifted it and placed it below her mobile. She emptied the bag on the floor, a few hair pins, a few safety pins, smaller bits of paper, and her passport size photo fell on the ground, it was a photo she had taken during her college days she liked her in the photo, that was the only thing she liked having with her, her old photo- the only proof that she had once been happy and independent was captured in the smile that lied frozen inside the greyscale photograph, she took a long breath and placed her most favourite photo near her sanitary pad, she bent down and collected the junk that fell from her bag. Now slowly she placed them back into the bag, arranging them in neat order, the cards, the coins, the tiffin box, the tiny pieces of paper, and everything that she discovered a few minutes before. She placed everything except the mobile and the money into the bag again. The bag which contained her contacts, her god and her struggle for daily life. She zipped the bag, dusted it taking away the stones which were struck on the bottom. She looked at her bag with love, it has been a part of her for nearly a decade but she had ever acknowledged its presence. She took her bag near her mouth and gave it a kiss on the brown outer surface, she kissed it hard with her eyes closed and without moving her lips, her saliva was wet on the bag. After a few seconds, she lifted her hands towards the direction of the dark river and she threw the bag. She threw it with no force, it was a simple act just like the peaceful death in the hour of sleep. The bag ran down clearing the air in the way and it finally made a sound, a sound that one hears when a bag falls on the river, it hit the surface of the dark liquids and drowned into it, when she looked there was no trace of a fallen bag, there were only a few hungry ripples running towards the shore. She then turned her head towards the emptiness of the sky, the orange had faded into a pale yellow, the evening has moved near the edges of the night, now the platform looked more crowded than before, stout people who took their evening walks, young lovers who were lost in the sight of the sky, school kids back from play, men and women wearing tags in green, blue and red getting back from office. Nobody acknowledged her presence; it was as if she had been statue in a standing position. She then heard her mobile ring, its screen was glowing in yellow lights, Dinakaran calling it alerted, she took it in her hands, she knew he would call her, he wanted the money today, he wanted her salary, he wanted it badly to pay a loan that he took for an unsuccessful business. She had refused she wanted to give the money to her sisters little kid who was diagnosed with cancer, he had never let her help her family, this time she wanted to give it to the kid, he refused. When she protested she was beaten, first without then with the company of alcohol, she was kicked on the stomach inside which she once carried his children, and her mother was called a bitch, she was abused she was molested and tortured, she was let to cry all night on a dark corner of her house, in the morning she was threatened to bring the money before night else she was requested not to enter the house. Her twenty three year old son and nineteen year old daughter just looked on and after a while they went to their rooms, locking it from the inside. She loved them, but for them too she was a mother who served the purpose of a mother, who cooked, who washed, who gave medicine, who would only know to love in any case. They always looked down upon her, the son drank inside his room and never gave her respect except on his birthdays, her daughter grew into a modern woman who hated to introduce her mother to friends because her mother looked rural, she doesn’t speak English. But even then she loved her kids, because that is what is expected from the mothers of this nation, to give out love in any case and in every case. Crying alone in a dark room with no one to console or to lift her up, she cried like every woman. In the morning she revealed nothing, she reached office and worked as she worked on any calendar day, and she left office early and reached this place of the town where the city met the river and the sea. She has decided that this day is going to be unusual, not like any other day she faced before and not like any other day that she will face anytime later, the day is going to be her answer for humiliation she suffered for decades since her birth, in whole and in parts, this day is going to be her answer. The phone rang for the third time, its lights glowed emitting stronger shades of yellow just like the desperation of her husband. She knew what she is going to do next, and the thought made her smile, a simple smile for the simplest of reasons. Then she threw her mobile, this time with more force, it cut an arc in the air and covered even farther distances, when the phone had hit the surface of the liquid, the screen was still glowing in yellow calling out the name Dinakaran, then it swiftly disappeared into the ditch waters. The night had arrived. She looked around to see that there were no more colors, there was only darkness. Like a huge wave from the sea the night has completely covered the city, the sea was not visible, and the solar lamps on the bridge were emitting the artificial yellows and oranges on the road. She remembered she has stood there for hours without making a movement, as if she was a very part of the bridge just like the concrete pillars, the angular arcs and the steel railings. She glanced at the city, the buildings were lit in the distance, the traffic was heavy on the bridge, and the platform was flowing with people. She took the money and closed it inside her left palm, she had nothing else to carry, she took a deep breath and started walking on the platforms, her steps were crossing the angle made by the bridge on the sky, she was walking towards the lights that glowed in the distance, she was walking towards the city.

The Mall

The little yellow vehicle with the black top stood near her feet, the auto-wala was amused looking at a woman holding a bundle of rupees in her hand. She told him the name of a famous mall in the heart of the city, when he quoted the amount she agreed without a bargain.
She sat inside the auto right behind the driver, auto drivers never spoke with woman who travelled alone but they adjusted their mirrors towards the woman. She ignored the fact that he was looking at her through his rear-view. She looked the insides of the auto, it has been long since she travelled in an auto, even if she could afford she preferred crowded busses instead so that could save her some money. She had travelled in cars even fewer times, once was after marriage when she was brought to the city and once was when her manager took them to colleague’s funeral. She had almost forgotten how cars looked from the inside. Right from being a child she dreamt of travelling in cars, wearing cotton saris, living in huge three storied buildings, of a man who would come in a white horse and save her from the clutches of life and she dreamt of living a happy life somewhere in a city where it rained in the afternoon, but born in a village where the men ploughed all day, and the women cooked and gave birth to children all around the year, and brought up by a dad who hated his girl children, marrying a man who lied down naked after the hour of sex and asked her to fetch some water for him, none her dreams came true. But she decided that tonight she should travel in a car, a huge white car, a car with AC and glittering doors, she should travel like a princess, she added it to the long list of to-do’s for the day. The auto halted, she climbed down and gave a pair of rupee notes and walked away without asking for the change. She stood in front of the magnificent structure, the shopping mall read “open” from the day she came to the city she wanted to enter the place, once she asked her husband to take her there, he refused saying that was a place for people with lots of money, now she had lots of money in her hand, she was rich in cash than most people who were inside it, she climbed the marbled steps and entered into a world which she had never seen before. All she could see was crowd of people, men and woman mostly wheatish and white mostly young and carefree who walked hand in hand. This part of the earth looked distant for a woman who had never been out of her home and office and a remote village. Lights, plenty of them were glowing making the place resemble heaven or hell she was not very sure. With her eyes popping out in amusement she glanced through the hallways. Shops of every kind, shops which sold everything produced on earth. She had never been exposed to all this before. She looked at the huge clock which hung on the wall, well it was the time of the day when she would be at home, cutting vegetables for the dinner, or sweeping the floor the second time for the day, opening the door for her husband who came in to curse the food that she made for lunch, her sun who entered with the smell of cigarette and shouted at her for not ironing the next days clothes, her daughter who faked accents on the phone and addressed her in singular pro-nouns. But today she was here in a new world, or maybe a new planet which was nearly a thousand light miles away from her house. The clock kept ticking; she knew she had only less time to make true all her wishes. She washed away her thoughts of regrets, she walked along the paths of the mall, and when she found the signboard of beauty parlor for women, she walked inside opening the decorated glass doors.

Sitting on a revolving chair, with lather all over her face and shoulders she stared into the emptiness of the mirror, and soon her eyes were closed with a slice of some watery fruit. She had asked the woman in the parlor to give here a facial and a modern haircut, she requested her to make it quick. With her closed eyes she kept staring at the mirror and a movie ran on it with the memories of her adulthood, when she was praised around the village for her beauty, she loved her face every time she looked in the mirror, a lot of men in school and college liked her. She stood first in all exams she took, she liked chemistry but her uncle who worked in EB as a clerk advised her parents to put her in Maths, she found no complaints, she then liked maths too. After college she found a job as an steno, dad agreed because he wanted money to plant paddy every quarter, she went to job to an nearby district, she drafted the salary directly to home having some 50 rupees for her having that to buy tickets back home and to drink coffee once a month in a hotel opposite to her office. In office she never spoke with men, she felt that was a sin, she worked, she over worked and returned to her hostel to sleep. She seldom dreamt in her adulthood, she knew that her dad dreamt for her too, she slept and in the hour of sleep her thoughts were empty as the free space in a newly built house. And when she crossed twenty, people came to see her for choosing her the bride, she stood with empty eyes before everyone, most times she was confused with whom in the crowd she is going to live the rest of her life?, men looked at her from top to bottom some rejected that she was too lean, and some that she was too pale, and some because she is working with men, she never rejected anyone. One man liked her, and she was married. The movie stopped to a black screen. She was informed that the job was done. When her face was cleansed and her long hair trimmed she sensed a new brightness to it, she has suddenly back in her twenties, she after years looked beautiful again. That made her smile, a smile with a stroke of happiness in it. She took a stick of lipstick and painted her lips in red, bright alarming and inviting red. She paid the woman with one fourth of the money she had and left the place with a new sense of excitement, which she had never felt before.

Standing amidst rows of fresh and new dresses, she found that there were no sarees in the shop. She was glad about that. She stood near the circular pole which carried t-shirts, she had no choices in her mind, and she picked a plain one filled with a color which was somewhere in-between red and orange, bright like the tired sun. She asked for a jean, when inquired what was the hip size of her daughter she informed her own hip size was 32. She randomly chose one from the bundle which lay open before her; all she wanted was a pant to wear. She picked up her new t-shirt and jean and ran inside a trail room as the sales women giggled silently at her. Standing inside the wall of mirrors she removed her saree, she tore it away from her body with the hate for it that had grown over the years, she removed the holy piece of wire that hung across her neck she put them on the floor, her saree and the rope. She stood nude in front of the glossy mirrored walls. Her image reflected on all the four mirrors, and it multiplied itself into a hundred and a thousand. Her image was filling in the room. She looked at her nude frame, never in her life she had looked at her own body without clothes, they only had a broken face view mirror in her village house and after marriage she never looked into the mirror. She looked at her bosoms, her wrinkled stomach, her dark legs, her bare back, at the burn that her husband once made with the iron box on her left thigh. She stood there staring at her own reflection caught on the mirror, she stood there in silence and the power was off. Darkness filled in the walls, she could not see herself in the mirror anymore. She stood nude in the middle of the dark room and it reminded of the darkness that she would have sensed in her mothers womb. This too was a womb of a different kind, she dressed herself in the darkness, and she opened the door her eyes met with a bright light just as the light she would have sensed seconds after her birth. The girls who stood across the shop turned their sight to the woman dressed in a yellow top. As she walked the on looking eyes conveyed that she was alarmingly beautiful, the girls were amazed to see a middle aged woman who lost half her age as she shut herself in the trail room. Some eyes conveyed envy and some conveyed displeasure. But she walked, she walked like a woman who had no care for what the world thinks of her, she dint know if she looked good or bad, she wanted to be dressed and she is. She felt that after years of living she had escaped from the tent of her saree, a tent which held her captive all her life. Now she was a free woman, with more and more men turning their heads towards her side she left the shop and walked with an all new posture, she walked with long steps, she walked shedding behind her the fear, the coyness, that a woman is expected to carry with her all her life, she walked with the head held high, she walked like a woman.

Her lips spotted an unending smile, she was happy for herself. For the first time she climbed floors on an escalator, she was nervous and she looked around as if the entire world was looking back at her, she wanted to shout and make the ignorant people know that “this was her first time on an escalator”. She bought a mug of coffee and sipping it she roamed all around the mall, she went up to every floor, she entered every single shop, she smiled at everyone who looked at her. At times she walked with small steps, at time with large steps and whenever she felt the excitement filling in her she ran in the middle of people like a kid running to catch a butterfly. She looked at all the handsome men; she pinched the cheeks of every little child who stumbled on her. She bought a pair of studded earrings, She bought a new pair of shoes, she bought a new handbag: a fur bag resembling a young teddy bear, She bought a dozen candy bars, with the dark chocolates melting on her lips she kept licking her fingers like a child. She then entered the huge cafeteria and took a seat In the middle of a hundred tables, she ordered food that she had never heard before, she had never ate good food all her life, she cooked delicacies for her family while she sat behind and ate the left over lunch, when someone gave her a sweet at office she denied the temptations to eat, she saved it in a roll of paper, and brought home and gave it to her kids, when they ate it she smiled with contempt. She lived for them. She was denied love by her own children. A gentle tear rolled to her cheeks, now she denied the temptations to cry. She feasted on the delicacies that lay in front of her, she feasted like a beast. She wasted more than what she ate. She sat there for a long time as the lights of the mall where switched off one by one. When she came out of the cafeteria the people had left, the lights were down, the mall was getting back its own reality. She bought a huge cone filled with ice cream, ate it with the excitement of a kid, ran on the empty floors of the mall and when she reached the entrance and looked back, the mall was already dead. She knew the time would be nearing midnight, she didn’t have much time. She walked towards the taxis and her eyes rejected all the brown fiats and the white ambassadors, she wanted a huge car with the glittering paints, she wanted a car that resembled a ship she wanted a car inside which she should feel the winter sky she informed them. The men chuckled at her, one informed her he could get one from a nearby travels but that would cost her five times more. She agreed, she sat on the empty steps of the deserted mall. She sat blocking the way through which nobody went in and nobody came out. Licking the bottom of her cone, she waited for the car glancing at the roads which had flown out of traffic. She sang an old school rhyme which she remembered and licked the ice cream, with shining white eyes and even brighter smile she looked at the city which stood firm before her. The huge white colored car with wide and dark windows arrived and stood below her feet.

The Pub

She ordered the AC to be increased; she ordered an English song to be played. She then asked the driver to take her to a hotel where she could drink alcohol and dance. Shocked, the driver turned back to her he was never asked so by any of his women customers. He was bewildered by the boldness that the woman showed, he wondered if she was the owner of the car. She sat with her legs stretched out inhaling the cold air that filled in the car, through the tinted glass window she looked at the city which was getting ready to sleep. One by one the buildings got deprived of light, the signals turned to constant yellow. The car cruised through the empty streets of the city, it crossed the gates of a famous five star hotel, and it stood on the pathway which leads to the lobby. She alighted from the car like a queen. She walked past the majestic wooden door and entered the hotel, she almost fainted looking at the place. Decorative lights which send out signals directly to the brain, huge and wide sofas, people of different sizes and colors, the whole place was so mystically lit in mild yellow, the place resembled a heaven that she saw once in her childhood dream. She thought god must be residing in one of the numerous rooms of the hotel. She stood there trying to understand the place as curious eyes looked at her with bewilderment. She reached the reception and asked where she could drink, she was escorted to the first floor and the doors of the bar were opened to let her in. Nobody noticed the middle aged woman who walked in wearing a reddish yellow dress. The place was almost void of light; a few lamps were glittering at regular intervals. They were busy dancing and drinking, men and woman, the young and the old and before everyone there was a glass filled with a divine colored liquid. Men and woman danced in the middle of the floor, they were not caressing each other or molesting each other as she had imagined and as she was informed. They were just dancing, wildly and madly to a tune that almost heard like a loud heartbeat. She walked and sat on a corner table, she was presented with a card with list of names. She looked around there were hundreds of bottles lined on a corner, she glanced through them and her eyes stuck on a familiar bottle. The bottle from which her husband drank, a bottle filled with a dark brown liquid, the same bottle which lied empty watching her when he slapped/raped/slaughtered her. Alcohol was his excuse to torture her, he became an animal when he drank. She asked for the same bottle, the bartender poured a few drops of it on an empty glass, the rest was filled with soda. Nobody was watching her, she sat in front of the glass, she looked inside it, bubbles were beaming from the bottom of the glass and they travelled in crisscross patterns and reached the top surface of the liquid, where they exploded. She lifted the glass near her eye through the liquid she saw the life before her, through the dark mustard vision she saw a world which invited her to become a very part of it. She drank it. Her eyes were closed. She could feel the acid travelling from the throat to the stomach and from there to each and every cell of her body. She poured more in her glass added a little soda, she drank it again. It was like getting a thousand goose bumps at the same time, like getting bit by a million snakes. She loved it. She could feel it happen inside her body. All the tiny cells were tied to a single strand of rope and were pulled towards her brain. Her body tightened. She took the bottle in the glass and started drinking from it. Raw alcohol, tasted like eating a rotten fruit which bred worms inside it. She drank it. She emptied the bottle till the last sip, licking the final drops which dangled on the edges. She closed her eyes and lay there still and quiet. When she opened her eyes, her neck rested on her shoulders. She was not sleeping but she was not awake too. She was somewhere in between the two. The eyes pushed her inside while her soul pushed her out. She was drunk like any human. She stood up with trembling feet, she was shaking as if an earthquake occurred inside the core of her brain. A brain quake. A soul quake. She became her husband, she became a drunken man. She was insane with joy. The sound of music hit her directly inside her chest bones. She started dancing, she danced. She danced with no patterns; she danced like the primitive woman of the stone age. She invented her dance. She got into the crowd and she was lost into it. She unleashed the free woman on the floor, the woman who always wanted to escape the fakeness of the life she lived. She danced for all her lost yesterdays; she danced giving out all the pain she suffered. She danced holding the hands of American men and African women. She danced with her breasts bouncing all over the air, she jumped as she danced she danced as she jumped, at times she let down a few tears which got stamped by a hundred pair of legs. She stumbled on a man, a handsome old man. She hugged him. He removed her hands which were wound tight across his shoulders. He held her tight in his arms and looked at her, he glanced her from top to bottom, he asked her if she was willing to come to his place. She agreed. Holding the hand of a unknown man she walked outside the hotel as they got into a car, a bigger car this time but it was painted in black. She lied on his shoulders while the car travelled to hell.

It was a huge house with large rooms, they were sitting in the balcony and he was pouring alcohol on both the glasses as the security guard watched them from a distance with a sigh of apprehension. He drank more and he smoked, they had nothing to speak. They kept drinking till they emptied two bottles. They removed their clothes and he fell on the bed and called her towards him. They made sex. For a woman who was deprived of all the little happiness and relief that the act of sex gives, for a woman who lay like a stone when her husband crawled on her, for a woman who always gave pleasure and never received it back, this felt like her first night with a man, she felt like she is going to loose the virginity that she preserved inside her soul for the very first time. She unleashed herself on him, she became the master for the first time and she dictated. Like a queen who dictated to all men in her province. She dictated to him.She did things that an Indian woman is not supposed to do. She broke moral barriers, she broke emotional barriers and she enjoyed the simple act of sex for the first time in her life. The man injected his poison inside her. She lay idle looking at him, then she spat on his face. She spat at him right in the center of his face. Her spat was her essence in response to his. A spat which fell on every man in the world. She spat with hate and disgust. She removed herself from him and got dressed. The man, who was caught in the sudden shock, came running to her holding the bottle, he hit her on the face blood started oozing from her face. She stood idle and she looked at him, with a drop of blood spilling from her eyebrow. She looked back at him with an open eye, an eye that conveyed a supremacy, a force which can annihilate him. He avoided her gaze he crawled like an old beggar wit impaired limbs. He bent his head down as she walked away.

The Streets

She was walking in the midnight on the deserted road, fearing nobody, she walked in straight lines, she walked with her head held high. Just as the poets and the leaders dreamt of, a woman walked alone in the middle of the night, but she was bleeding. It was still bleeding from the wound in her head. She had always wanted to look how the city was after the midnight and that wish too, was fulfilled. She walked past people sleeping on platforms, she walked past the mid-night tea shops, she walked in the middle of the busiest road in town, she walked past lorries and trucks, she walked past panicky eyes, she walked past the statue of a woman who was celebrated for her chastity, she walked past all kinds of roads wide, narrow, black,grey, teeming, empty. She walked throughout the night as she reached the street which hosted her house, the first rays of the mornings were reflected on the old limestone walls. The house was already awake as she walked in, nobody noticed her coming in, her husband was sitting with the news papers covering his face, her son was lying on his bed crossing his legs in air, her daughter was getting ready for her early classes at college. She stood in the middle of the house. It was her husband who had a first look at her, he then called out for his son and his daughter too joined. They saw a woman dressed in torn red t-shirt and a dirty jean, they saw a woman who was bleeding all over her face, they saw a woman who stood idle in the middle of the living room and she was their mother. All the three kept their eyes fixed on her, after moments of silence she spoke. She recited everything that she did over the night, she explained it in detail without hiding any single fact, she recited with her head held high, she recited it with a clear voice, she recited it without closing her eyebrows in the middle. It was her son who came running to her, he kept shouting Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! And then he slapped her. He kept slapping her. Her daughter went back inside her room and started combing her hair sitting in front of the mirror, her husband kept looking at her for long. He asked her son to throw her out and got back to the papers continuing from where he left. Her son caught a strand of her hair and pulled her till the door, he pushed her outside and the door was locked.

The life that she tolerated all her life was not tolerated on her for more than a night. She knew In her eyes of her husband she saw the fear and guilt, which he covered with the morning papers. She had done things that even she may not approve of, but she did it. For the first time in her life she scribbled in her book called fate, the book in which only her father and her husband wrote till date. She didn’t write a beautiful poem in it, she just scribbled. She knew life would be tougher after this; tougher than what it is today, but this toughness is what she chose for herself. She rebelled, She knew she will struggle, but she will live through the struggle. She, Born Shantalaksmi Natarajan, lived Shantalaksmi Dinakaran, was just Shanta now. There were no more tags attached to her, the tags called daughter, sister, wife, mother, goddess, angel, river, flower, nothing. She was just a woman. She was just herself. She stood on the steps of her house still dressed in the bloody piece of cloth. She felt light like a feather. She stood there looking at the street, woman clad in tight sarees were on the floor doing their morning rituals, they looked at her in shock and went in to inform their men. Soon a small crowd had formed before the house. Shanta stood there; she was looking at a place which only she saw. Then she laughed, she laughed at everything. She looked at the sky above, with no clouds to block the rays, the morning sun stood nude in front of her. Brighter than ever. She kept staring at the sun for a while.

Then she stepped down from the house and started walking. Not humble, not on the sideways with her head down.

She walked right in the middle of the road.


20 comments:

Sandy said...

Great story... I still can't believe this is your first one. Made me think of how indifferent I have been to my mom and how I have taken her for granted. I felt guilty... I cried. You seem to have the knack of making your readers cry!!! Hats off...

Vignesh said...

Hey sandy!

First im surprised to get a comment, frankly if i had seen such a long post on any blog, i would have just skipped it!
So thanks for taking time to read and comment...

//how indifferent I have been to my mom

yes this is what i exactly wanted ppl to think of, in the name of family how we destroy the concept of individualism,
and it always ends as women have to endup living for the family losing their "self" in it, I am no good i had treated
my mom with the same indiffernce and maybe all the built up guilt made me write this...

in a different level i wanted to adress the indifference that women are made to undergo in the complex family structures
simply what makes the child wake up in the morning and to find newspaper and milkpackets on the door, what makes the
child take the newspaper to the father and the milkpacket to the mother? some base existences of our kind
of living SHOULD be mocked and questioned, so atleast we find change happening after generations...

//You seem to have the knack of making your readers cry!

more than crying- making ppl raise a few questions was my intention..

again thanks 4 ur time.

Aravindan said...

First of all, 'Jai Ho' for writing a story! :D


I must you have got EA :D I like the way you take your writing seriously, craft each and every line & description and present it neatly. For a first timer, there is absolutely a clear voice in the story kudos!

I couldnt jel with 'The Pub' part, no not because of my cultural values bla bla. I could understand all her other liberations, except this one - felt it was too late or sounds crazy at this point of her life. And i felt her children looked very contrived & artificial. I am not saying its impossible, somehow looks forced in this story.

And i do expect a lot more efforts. Am sure you would rock!

And yeah, i loved the way the story was structured! You inspire me to write better!

Karthik said...

Awesome. I thought of skipping seeing the length of the blog. But the comments made me read and I realize its worth it. Not a single minute i felt bored. Excellent description. I am sure few years down the line,I am going to read a book which has your name in the first page.

Vignesh said...

Aravind,

Thanks for your time da, and regarding ur observation on "the pub" i wrote it as her way of retaliation till when
she is inside the mall the things that she does is for her own happiness, little and simple things that she wanted to do
all her life, and in the pub and after wards she does things to show of her anger, to ask ppl "now i hav done things
that u did all your life, hw r u ppl gonna react?" this was my intention, but i agree that i could have justified more, even
the write -up could have been better.tats a first timers excuse :)

//too late or sounds crazy at this point of her life

there are other affluent woman who do things everyday that shantha did for one night, and we don complain them to be crazy or late.
maybe as shantha's image is that of a middle class woman we find her crazy. Maybe.

Again thanks for givin me an EA:) my managers never give me one


Karthik,

Im humbled da.im glad that people take my writing seriously that they sit down to read such a long post.thanks da, next time
ill try to deliver better.

Raj said...

Vignesh,
A good attempt. However couldn't relate with the revolt of the women or couldn't empathize with what she had done to herself.

Nice first try and keep on writing. Also i would say you should focus on getting the characters etch out in better shape and the environment surrounding the character should only be the catalyst for it. The subject is her, and that is what you should be delving.

Anyway, its heartening to see a short story. Not easy to write one for sure!.

Sandy said...

I, however, could totally relate to Shantalakshmi and the way she wants to rebel against the society that had made her a slave throughout her life...

On a lighter note, I can totally understand it if guys don't understand that state of mind simply coz they are guys and girls are not as simple as guys!!! ;-)

Vignesh said...

@Raj

//couldn't relate with the revolt of the women

some find her actions meaningless amd yes i too wanted that... it was a question of what if?, all stories evolve from that question mine was simple and clear what if a woman who had been just like anyother, who had only been supressed all her life turns insane for one night? that was the what if i wanted to post.As i wrote when she got a chance to write in her book of fate, she scribbled.

But yes some find it justified and some don't.I totally agree with you, when i read my own story from a critic's view, i think it could have been better.. and the imageries i wrote i belived would enhance the character, i.e the bridge was an allegory for the change in her life, the bag which she throws for her own life, the clour deep orange for her high energy levels so on and so forth..(But it is sad that the writer has to explain all this :) which means i could have mad it clearer)

Again thanks Raj,A lot of feedbacks which im gonna remember when i sit with my next attempt..:)

Vignesh said...

Sandy,

Women know woman best, but still there was a woman who slammed the doors at me after reading the post... felt shantha was born out of insanity of my mind..and the feed back i got from a few woman was "its disgusting"...Never mind when im honest about my intentions feedbacks about shanta dosnt matter..

//if guys don't understand that state of mind

From whatever feedback i got, woman disagree with shantha and more men agree with her..:) I think you are one of the few woman readers who approved shantha...

Naga said...

Excellent start da!!

The first part was a crude(true) depiction of a woman's life and the rest showed its possible aftermath..

Though some of them cannot be related to reality, readers would realize in them a sense of guilt prevailing throughout the story..

Loved it..

Vignesh said...

Thanks da!

The first part happens in almost every womens life NO EXCEPTION, till she stands on the bridge and my shantha crosses the bridge but as a community we are all on the other side of it...

guilt prevails, if u are human if u know that u r suppressing a sex who are u r peers... we have to be guilty... but what does the guilt do? what did i ever do in my life? nothing, i myself am a observer more than a doer..

we live in a place which still thinks about granting 33% where as 50% is the birth right... lets hope things do change in the next millennium...

again thanks 4 ur time da...

Venkat said...

Great work Vignesh.. Wonderful for a first time. I should heartily appreciate the way you have depicted your scene. (I wonder how well you have observed things around you, starting from women's handbag to women empowerment)

As Raj rightly commented, you can further refine the characters and have a bit more realistic story-line. I felt like K.Balachander's movie where the heroine breaks all the social barriers. It seems good and raises a few Qs in our heart, but is not at all practical. :)

Honestly telling, I am really happy that I have not been indifferent to my mom (Not boasting, but glad when guyz like sandy felt guilty on that). One good thing I ve vowed in my life is to keep her happy. :)

Excellent work yet again.

Vignesh said...

@Venky,

thanks first, the bitch will never be true in real life, atmost she would have handed over the money to the suffering kid.

my aim was to disturb the pond to put a stick into it and bring out all that stinks all those which lie in the bottom... mine was a try to say an extreme thing so tat we may look the ordinary in a different light.. I agree its not practical atleat in the place we live..

i am really glad for ur mom.. really

Anu said...

Vignesh..

Good story.. but like Raj commented I couldnt identify with Shanta. To revolt and surrendering all your values seem to be different ends of the stick. For me as a woman,her true revolt would have been giving that money to her sisters child.

Vignesh said...

@ Anu akka,

values and systems are yet to me defined and made stable... as i said over this is about a woman who turns insane, who loses her sanity... the question is what do we do when we make a women loose her sanity? we ditch her again, if it had been the man he would have stayed home.

it was just an attempt of trying something extreme... if i din jusify shantha enough it is entirely my inability.. as jemi said Jeyakanthan made his ganga acceptable while i couldn't...

umeshkarthy said...

sorry i took so much time to read this.. :(

loved it.

Ganga Rudraiah said...

Vignesh,

Your portrayal of Shanta and her idea of 'liberation' is flawed at many points. At other places, female subjectivity has been uniquely represented.
Concepts of virginity, motherhood,female desire,and sexual pleasure that you have fleshed out, seem to be a projection of male appropriation of the female gender. I sense that this touching tale is a figment of your imagination informed by your ascribed masculine status and your politicized knowledge of the other (the woman), which classifies under mainstream broad-mindedness.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed your writing style. I urge you to trouble these organizing notions further.

From what I understand, you show Shanta as an intelligent woman but subdued under certain circumstances, and she breaks away. What I don't understand is her futile return to 'home'. I see it as a melodramatic closure with unnecessary glorification of the protagonist. It is a learned obsession to transform ordinary people in to extra-ordinary human beings - the desire to have a hero amidst us.

What do you think? I had to pen these thoughts down after that long read.

Vignesh said...

Umesh,

Thanks.

Ganga,

First thanks for the time and the analysis.

I have to admit that i was not able to interpret your comment as would have wanted me to. Anyway.

The idea of the story was born one midnight when i over heard my office watchmen speak bout their experiences about molesting women in the busses. One said "nalla pombalaya iruntha orasum pothu amaithiya irupaa, thevadiyaala iruntha thaan kathi koochal poduva". For those men, a women who protests against violence is a BITCH. I did not go up to him and ask "what if that was your mother or wife, you expect her to keep quiet when a man's penis hits on her intentionally?".. i did not ask him. But i sat back and wrote this.

It was my answer or rather a question to the watchman. Dinakaran was him, and shantha was his wife. What if suddenly his wife takes this plunge, what if?. I wrote this question with him in mind. I wrote giving Shantha all the ugly powers of masculinity i possess, i wanted her to become an insane man.

My knowledge may not be politicized, i have had very close encounters and the image of Shantha is not that what i would what an ideal women to possess. But the actions of Shantha are the cheap shocks i would like to give to all cheap men living around every corners.

I made her come back home for the exact melodrama of it, to make the watchman meet his wife/mother who has in his own words become a BITCH.

Finally, i remember writing this with a lot of personally emotions being poured into it. Shantha is as flawed as the bias in the emotions, she is as true as the pain in those emotions..

Kumaraghuru said...

Hi Vignesh,

A very nice one..

I have only a few lines...

Shanta's heart felt lighter...mine... heavier...

Hats off to you

Vignesh said...

Kumaraghuru,

Thank you.

I am glad that people associate a lot of emotional quotient with Shantha.

She needs your love.

Again thanks for spending time with her, btw do we know each other?

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