“After decades I felt avenged and I thanked God to have made my little girl brave, braver than me at least.” A hard hitting short story.
I knew I was going to regret that day the minute I woke up. A strong cloud of foreboding hung over my head and after almost a year I found myself craving for a Chocolate Ganache. My stomach tore in desire as I searched my fridge for anything, anything fattening or gluttonous or sinful. All I found were Ragi flavoured breakfast bars.
I stuffed the bar in my mouth and flakes of bland Ragi dropped on my white tee. How did I ever eat this shit for 365 days? I thought. I kept stuffing not one, not two but three of those bars down my throat and simultaneously dusting off the big flakes off my clothes.
Bam, at the stroke of noon, my mobile shrilled with Meghan Trainor singing that it was all about her base. The call was from Mummy. She was demanding why I was not at her place helping her with all the cooking and other shit that always needs to be done.
By the time she was done yelling at me, which was exactly 15 minutes, I was in a creased red chudidaar with a torn dupatta. I knew, I could cleverly conceal the tear if I wore the dupatta right.
Another fifteen minutes of almost empty roads, I entered my parent’s home. Some may call it a mansion, I called it the fancy house of terrors, mostly because my mother lived there. As I entered the driveway I saw a red Santro that belonged to my sister and her two kids. There was another that belonged to my widowed aunt and finally Munna uncle’s land rover, my mother’s much younger, beloved brother. Like seriously, she is obsessed with him, says he is not her brother but her son.
I groaned “NOT HIM?!”, loud enough that the mansion’s watchman jerked towards me, twisted his head and gave me the “Are you alright, lady?” stare.
The living room smelled like a strange concoction of diya oil, motichor laddoos, marigold flowers and the stench of cigarettes. One sweep across the room and I took in my mother screaming at my twelve year old niece to be nice to Munna nanu, my sister screaming at Mummy to leave her alone, my father screaming at them to take their bickering elsewhere because Arnab was debating about the steel flyover, my six year old nephew crashing into my pelvis and my aunt, who sat knitting sweaters in Bangalore with a glass of red wine.
In that instance I knew the reason for my daylong foreboding. It was this family, these people who I had managed to escape by working abroad and failing miserably at my now failed marriage. With a sinking feeling I realised I was back where I started.
My aunt exclaimed in delight the minute she saw me, “Chintu, kitni patli ho gayee hai? My god, how much weight have you lost?”
But no, no way my mother can have someone else say one nice word about me. Her psychosis doesn’t allow an entry into the house without guilt-tripping.
“Anorexic lag rahee hai. All haddi haddi.” She said giving me a disdainful look from tip to toe. “Can’t you get your clothes ironed? Is this how you dress for a festival?” She directed the last two questions at me.
“I was working late.” I murmured as I hugged my aunt, Dad, sister and my niece. My sister just patted me and asked me to ignore the spawn of satan aka mom. Just then the booming voice of Munna uncle jarred my nerves as he enveloped me in a bear hug that crushed my breasts to his chest and his large palms cupped my butt. His beer breath whispered into my ears, “What did you do to yourself? I miss all that tush.”
That asshole, I thought as my palms curled into a knot ready to punch him. I stared at my sister who gave me a warning look, that said, “This is Mummy’s party. Don’t ruin it for her. Tolerate that pedophilic, pervert uncle.”
I swallowed hard and stiffened, just like I used to for years as a child. After about 107 years and some months of feeling me, he let me go, grabbed my niece by her waist and pulled her towards him.
He hadn’t changed since I last saw him three years ago at my wedding. Drunk and trying to grope every available girl, no matter whose daughter she was.
“Now, yeh ladki, yeh pyari chotti si ladki. She is my favourite.” And he crushed her frail body into his, as my niece tried to manoeuvre herself enough to catch a breath and squeeze out of his iron grip.
Lunch was a tense affair, with Mummy going on about how horrifying it was to have two divorced daughters in the house and how she can’t ever go to any family functions without feeling ashamed and answering awkward questions. Dad sat like a potato and appropriately nodded after every exclamation my mom made. My aunt ignored mom most of the times, but when she did speak it was to tell her with utter disdain that she was overreacting.
Did I tell you that I love my aunt? Well I do.
My sister sat quietly, taking in most of the criticism because of course she had no choice. With her useless husband abandoning her, she depended on my parents both financially and emotionally. My niece on the other hand seemed to have learned the art of avoiding Munna uncle. Munna uncle on the other hand seemed to have mastered the art of cornering her at every occasion. I sat there fuming, layers of dormant anger piling up as I stuffed my mouth with both hands. Motichoor laddoos in one and samosas in the other.
“Are you sure you lost all that weight by dieting?” Mummy asked. “Look at you, eating like a pig. Plastic surgery toh nahee kariyee tune?” She exclaimed incredulous.
I chose not to respond to that, mostly because my mouth was stuffed with food that I tried hard swallowing, but also because even if my mouth wasn’t stuffed with food, I was not going to justify to my mother how I lost 32 kilos and why I was even a fat kid to begin with?
After lunch Munna uncle asked, Ria, my niece, to show him her room. She murmured something about being tired, I looked around for my sister but she was busy with mummy inside.
“Chalo beta, how can you be tired? You slip of a girl.” He lifted her on his shoulders and carried her to her room. I ran behind both of them as Ria struggled to jump out of his grip and ran towards me. I held her tight and whispered that the next time he touches her like that, to kick him in the nuts.
“But Nani….” She said, a troubled look marring her face. “Don’t worry about Nani. I will take care of her.” I said. The fury inside me was bubbling like lava, and my IQ had dropped at least 20 points. Because I knew that if Ria followed my advice, even God wouldn’t be able to save us from Nani.
By five in the evening everyone was antsy, stressed and so not looking forward to dinner at mom’s. Except for Munna uncle, he was cheerful and perseverant as ever. Touching Ria, following Ria around, offering to make her take a nap with him.
The disaster happened when Ria and her brother were playing Lego in the dining room and Munna uncle sat down next to Ria. Dragged her towards him by her legs, as she whimpered, looked at me and then just like I told her, she kicked him in his nuts, hard.
Just when she did that, three things happened. Munna uncle screamed like a pig, Ria’s mouth opened in horror as she couldn’t believe what she did, and wave of relief washed over me. After decades I felt avenged and I thanked God to have made my little girl brave, braver than me at least.
“Aaaaahhhhhh!” Munna uncle screamed hard, again (the over dramatic prick!), as Mummy came running towards him. The second batch of Motichoor laddoos fell from her hands and crashed on the floor while Munna uncle, trying to get up, again slipped on them and hit his back.
He pulled a crying, struggling Ria to him. “Yeh ladki bahut badtameez ho gayee hai.” He shouted. As mom screamed, “Kya ho gaya?!” and I went to him and punched him on his face. Hard.
“Don’t you ever…ever touch her again!” I shouted loud just as the entire house fell in pin drop silence except for Arnab Goswami screaming in the background about the steel flyover.
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