A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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The burglars had thought it would be an easy target. But they hadn’t realized what ‘mere women’ could do, if they joined forces! #GoodwynTea contest winning entry.
This month, we invited you, our readers, to participate in the writing contest sponsored by Goodwyn Tea. You had to write a story either fiction/real, in response to the cue: “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” A quote supposedly by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Here is the third winning entry, by Kalyani Chidambaranathan. Kalyani wins a gift hamper from Goodwyn Tea. For the taste of a perfect steep, visit www.goodwyntea.com and try out one of their high quality tea bag collections.
Sara, short for Saraswathi, was enjoying some rare, quiet time when she heard a funny sound. A scuffling noise and a strange yelp. She got up to look, taking with her the baby sleeping on her lap.
In the lobby, a hooded man was twisting the arm of her husband, clenching him tightly from behind. He was holding a knife to Damodar’s throat. Sara hardly registered the details before rushing back to the bedroom to put the baby down on the bed. She didn’t know it- but she was screaming.
Sara ran back to the lobby, still shouting for help. Before her, there was Ajeetha grappling with the intruder, shouting, “Who the hell are you to lay your hands on my father? “
The guy let go of Damodar and started wrestling with Ajeetha. She was a big girl and managed to wrench away the arm holding the knife. The knife flew from his grasp and landed near the door. The man leapt downwards to grasp it. She was on in him, in seconds. With her thick rubber slippers Ajeetha stomped on his upper arms, all the while yelling as he tried to reach for the knife. He snarled and turned around on the floor reaching for her legs.
As his head came up, it met with a solid object and a loud crack resounded. His pain filled eyes made out another girl in a nightie, holding a tea pot in her hand and ready to swing it again! “Aaaah…” he shouted and held his head. A string of words poured out which they hadn’t heard before. As he reached out in blind fury, his outreaching arms were stopped midway by the sweep of a very heavy object. Another bang to his head. Sara, bearing the first heavy object she could find; her tall brass lamp, hit him on his head. He collapsed.
“Call the police ma!” Ajeetha was screaming instructions. “Meenu get a rope quick!” As Meenu turned, there was Paati behind her saying, “in the kitchen shelf… new clothes line…”
A new sound made them all stop and listen. Someone else was trying to open the front door. As they watched in shock, the handle turned, the door started opening and a foot came in. Sara flew to the door and struggled to close it. Pushing with all her might she was able to shut it and bolt the latch. Desperately she pulled the other bolts close.
They turned and looked at each other in horror. Ajeetha urged, “Ma call the police”.
Sara moved a step inwards when there was a loud creaking noise. The second man was banging at the door with something hard! They stood numbed for moments as they heard a splintering sound. Instinctively, all of them moved backwards as the door fell inward with a crash. A large figure with a crowbar in his hand stepped in.
Meenu was the first one to move. A jet of scalding hot water met his face. “Aaaaah….. ,” he screamed as he covered his face with gloved hands. Within seconds his voice reached a crescendo as further blows followed. Ajeetha had whipped the tea pot from Meenu’s hand and broken it on his head. Sara had added her lamp to bring a few bruises to his shoulders and wherever she could reach.
“The rope the rope”, Ajeetha cried. Meenu sat on him as with a lot of grunts and groans, pushing and pulling, instructions and counter instructions they managed to tie the duo up. Paati had made it much easier with her final touch.
“There,” Paati said and rubbed some chilli powder on the men’s faces.
“Why, paati?” asked Meenu.
“They should remember this always,” she said grimly. “My poor son, the…,” she added a new cussword to Meenu’s vocabulary.
Only now were they were able to turn around and look at Damodar. He lay collapsed in a chair, clutching his arm. Blood was dripping from one arm while a little seeped from a cut on his neck. His other arm looked a little strange. It turned out later to be dislocated.
“Ajeetha I’ll call for an ambulance. You and Paati help him,” Sara said briskly. When Ajeetha didn’t move Sara cried sharply, “Ajeetha, Ajeetha!” She saw that Ajeetha was clutching her hand. Blood was dripping slowly to the floor. Ajeetha saw her mother moving towards her. “No ma, I’m ok. Call the police or somebody. Call the neighbours. There may be more outside,” she said quickly.
Meenu said “I’ve called next house uncle already”. “On the First Help App,” she added. “You call the police”.
There was a loud cry from the bedroom. “Oh God, the baby! Meenu, go see to her. Sheela will be here in another hour to take her,” Sara shot out instructions.
Then Sara was making a series of calls; to an indifferent police officer at the station who was finally roused and brought to the spot by a friend. She learnt who it was we first call when trouble appears. People to be trusted to take some action. Friends who could help. Friends who came rushing. Calls to family came much later.
A week later, Damodar lay in bed at home. He had a cast on one shoulder and a bandage on the other where he had been cut. Sara was feeding him. ‘What are you thinking? ’ she asked.
“Raja had come this morning and I was telling him the story”.
“And you know he was feeling sorry for those guys”.
“What….!” Sara began.
“He said they must have thought this was an easy situation with only women in the house. They would have calculated that with a knife at my throat, you would have capitulated easily and thrown open the cupboards. He said they wouldn’t have calculated for a bunch of hell cats. First, one wrestles with him and takes the knife away, then another pours hot tea water on his face, then another hits him with a heavy brass lamp and then an old woman rubs chilli powder on his face”.
“Why can’t he say I’m proud of you all,” Sara thought. He can’t admit it. He always likes to be the one in control, the man in front. Doesn’t want to admit that we women saved his life.
“You know Meenu and her teapot! That was the clincher! Raja said. Her green tea in a pot idea came in handy.” A slow smile appeared on Damodar’s face; the first in a week. “If she wants to join that environmental green course she can apply for it.”
Sara looked at him. “Really?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Then she can join on Monday”.
He looked perplexed. “She applied long ago and she was accepted. She was only waiting for you to come round”.
Before Damodar had time to digest this piece of news, Sara carried on. “Ajeetha?” she asked. “It’s obvious she can look after herself in any part of the world”.
“Jhansi Rani,” said Damodar, pride in his voice. “That’s what Raja called her”, he added in response to her raised eyebrows.
Sara smiled. “You must let your Jhansi ride out then”.
“Wherever she wants to go”, said Damodar. “Let her go to Bangladesh and take that job”.
Sara called the girls. “Your father wants to say something.”
She passed the lamp, now cleaned and polished, standing tall and quiet. She stopped. She tried to lift it. She could barely move it. Well, you don’t know the strength of a woman until she’s in hot water, she thought.
“Hellcats!” she smiled.
Congratulations from the Women’s Web team, Kalyani Chidambaranathan. You win a gift hamper from Goodwyn Tea.
Image source: young Indian women with tea by Shutterstock.
Great story…by kalyani.
Nice story. Is this story derived from personal experience?
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