“Where the hell is my file?” He shouted again.
She knew better now, after 4 years of marriage, that it’s no point replying or fighting back. Nothing will change.
But today; today it was different. Today it hurt. Today, like every year, she wondered why she had no choice. Today like every year she thought, what if? How life would be if she had done some things in a different way.
Today was their wedding anniversary.
Once he left for work, she went to her room and went back to her life. Went to the thoughts, where she actually lived, though that time was so short. But that time was the only life she knew worth living.
She was born in a very orthodox family. The girls were not even allowed to go out alone and study too much. All the education and focused was to learn to be good daughters, wives and mothers and quietly agree and surrender to who their parents, mostly their father, choose them to spend their lives with. They had accepted three masters for their lives; Father when they are kids, husband when they are young and son when they are old. Three masters.
Who made these rules, maybe the males in the society? Maybe just so the male gender can always feel powerful.
After all every crime in the world is the game of power and every fight a fight for power.
But right now all she was thinking of was one face. The one person she loved. The one man she found was so different. He treated her like a princess. He never shouted at her and never made her feel threatened.
She was a beautiful girl, lively and young.
He was a guy staying as a tenant near her house
She would see him often from her terrace but never noticed him. However destiny wanted them to meet. And even the society rules and decades of brain wash can not stop a heart from falling in love.
Once when she and her mother were alone at home, she fell down from stairs and hurt herself really bad. Her head was bleeding and her mom got really worried.
Her mother ran to the neighborhood and asked Raj to help her. She learnt that day his name was Raj. That’s all she remembered before loosing consciousness.
He came home after she was back from hospital. Her mother let him come over as he had helped them. But more so as she thought he came as he had no family in the town and a cup of tea with neighbors will not harm.
“Harm?” She thought in her mind, almost speaking to herself.
“If that was harm then she wants that kind of harm in every life she gets” again thinking and talking to herself.
It was months later. They had started meeting though without anyone knowing. She would go out saying she is visiting a female friend and he would meet her at an isolated place and then they both would go on his bike, far from where anyone would recognize them.
It stared with passing a smile to each other when they met on streets, seeing each other from terrace of her house and smiling some more. And then stopping on the street to ask how each one was doing.
From the streets and terrace she didn’t realize when she started meeting him in dreams.
But it was only after meeting him outside, away from everyone she realized how beautiful a person he was. How his dreams made more sense to her then even having her meal. How she can listen to him for hours and still feel a need to talk to him.
It continued for few more months before someone saw them together on the bike. She holding him and looking at him with love and laughing and smiling and he, holding her as if she belonged to him and no one else.
Slap. Slap. Slap.
“How dare you do this?”
“What did you think before you went out with him?”
“This is the gratitude you have shown for providing you a decent childhood?”
“This is why we don’t want daughters in our house”
And there was some more. The accusations, curses, slapping and hitting continued through the night.
She was all black and blue at many places but she couldn’t feel anything.
She was worried for him. She was praying no one says anything to him or hits him.
Outside she could hear her father speak with few uncles.
“Bastard, he was fu*** with our daughter”
“What does he think? He can get away with anything”
“Tell me Bhaijaan (brother) if you want me to kill him?” She heard her uncle speak again and controlled the urge to run and slap him hard.
“Please can you control this, don’t give your brother more ideas” Her mom spoke.
“You kill someone and police will be after your life for ages”
“And you end up bribing them forever or running away or doing what they ask you to”
“We need to think of something else, something more mature”
“Yes brother, I guess bhabhijaan is right. Let’s first ask Ramlal to throw him out of his house tonight” Her oldest uncle was speaking now. Giving advice and actionable to everyone around.
“And I will tell you what we need to do for tomorrow”
Next day she was woken up by a push from her mother.
“Get up! Look at her… shameless! Sleeping like that. You have spoilt our reputation and your father can’t even go out and face others”
“What are you staring me for now? You asked for it. Why? was the lust so high you had no control? If you were so desperate you should have been married way back”
She wanted to shout and say you don’t understand. I love that man. He loves me.
But she kept quiet. What’s the use talking to these people? They don’t understand love, they don’t understand life, they don’t understand her.
“Get ready we have your nikah being done today” She couldn’t believe her mother said what she heard.
“What? My wedding? How can you? Are you crazy?”
“I am not crazy but we have no choice. You mamujaan’s eldest son has agreed to marry you. In spite of knowing all this, just for saving our family reputation. God bless that guy. He is like a savior for us”
“But I love Raj” This is the first time she had said those words from her mouth. Though she had repeated that in her head thousands time.
“Shut up! Dare you take his name again? You father will kill you and him both.”
“Listen he has finally become calm after he heard about the possibility of your nikah”
Her mother was trying to explain the logic to her.
"Mother don’t say that, if you will I will kill myself” She said now crying. Choking, while speaking, as she knew it was possible. Her family could do anything. For a moment she could feel never seeing Raj again and she could feel a part of her being cut away from her.
"Please mother, please understand. He really loves me. He is a nice guy.” She cried. Started hauling, like she just heard the news of her loved one’s death.
She jumped from her chain of thoughts and came back to the present. It has been 4 years since that day, she realized. It was afternoon and door bell was ringing. Who could it be?
Door bell rang again.
She shouted “Coming” wondering who it would be.
Maybe some sales man/woman? Or some relative? Or…