“I hate you.”
“Rosh, hate is too large a burden to carry.” A tear escapes Ma’s eyes as she hugs me. I squirm to be free, but I like her warmth. It’s comforting and familiar.
I hate her new avatar. She has traded her cottons for dazzling silks. Peacock blue and ruby red has replaced the dull browns. She looks beautiful and happy. But for some strange reason, I miss her older self. The one I have known all my life.
Her metamorphosis is both shocking and unacceptable. Baba died 3 months ago. I’m still grieving; but Ma has moved on.
“How’s it so easy for you? Don’t you miss him? Did he mean nothing to you?”
I bombard her with questions. She says nothing and walks away. Her glass bangles tinkling behind her, leaving me in a deathly silence.
My stomach grumbles, but I ignore it.
I’ve no idea when tiredness took over my senses, but when I open my eyes, a splash of sunshine greets me. The golden glow trickling through the curtains warms my heart. Ma always calls me her splash of sunshine.
The house is eerily silent. I call out to Ma; fear and worry weighing heavy on my thoughts. A fluorescent green sticky note catches my eye.
You’re old enough to know the truth. Call me when you’re ready to talk.
The note is sitting on a big fat journal. Pages and pages are filled with Ma’s beautiful handwriting. I never knew she maintained a diary.
My eyes turn blurry on reading the first entry.
February 10th 1999
He hit me today. Again. Like always, spared my face.
I’m shocked. Baba hit Ma? With disbelief, I turn the pages. Entry after entry tears into me.
April 6th, 1999
Aai wants me to stay. Compromise. Adjust. Baba’s honour’s at stake.
June 2nd, 1999
Attended Sharma’s anniversary party. Everyone praised my turquoise blue saree. Back home, he thrashed me. Called me a slut. I’m not allowed to wear blue anymore. Or green or red for that matter. Only browns. Forever.
August 8th, 1999
Aai and Baba are not to visit us anymore. Unless they buy him a bungalow.
December 20th, 2000
Aai passed away. He did not allow me to attend the cremation. I’m sorry, Aai. I really wanted to come and see you. I begged and pleaded with him, but now I’m bedridden with a bruised back.
February 19th, 2002
I’ll never forgive you. You are a murderer. Hope you rot in hell.
I’m surprised by this entry. There is nothing more.
April 13th, 2002
He wants to try again. Better be a boy this time, he has warned me. Dear God, son or daughter…please don’t let him snatch my child.
The pages reveal a side of Baba I had never seen, never known. He always loved me.
December 20th, 2002
Finally! Two pink lines. It’s a secret. No one knows. Will keep it away from him as long as I can.
February 2nd, 2003
He raped me again. Stay strong, my child. He still doesn’t know.
March 6th, 2003
I can’t hide it from him anymore. It’s time for action.
March 8th, 2003
All went well at the station. I’ve lodged a formal complaint. If he harms my unborn child, he’d be put behind bars. Wish I knew I could have got him arrested under anti-dowry case ages ago.
August 29th, 2003
It’s the happiest day of my life. I can’t believe I’m holding this precious bundle. Roshni, my splash of sunshine.
He has promised to change.
He has changed. Sadly, only towards his daughter.
I cannot read anymore!
All my life she wore a mask for my sake. Her sadness, her suffering, her pains; it was all over now. She was finally free. To live as per her choice. Who was I to judge her, hate her?
Hate is too large a burden – her words ring in my ears. I grab the phone, “I’m sorry Ma. Please come home.”
My excruciating wait ends when she walks in looking resplendent in blue. Tears trickle down in relief and joy. It’s time to embrace the colours of life.
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