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Learned helplessness chained her life to an unknown agony and memories brought tears. Could you become a prisoner in your own house?
Every second she cringed with shame. Saranya could not find an excuse to escape from that embarrassing moment. Can your own house become a prison that opened the gate for experiences that could not be shared with anyone?
Learned helplessness chained her life to an unknown agony. Though her subconscious mind protested against such moments, her physical self acted differently. Her cells voluntarily submitted to that caress and shamelessly expected more.
“Stay away,” her inner voice screamed.
“Get going. I am excited to enjoy every second of this sharing”
She gave in slowly. The muscles that tightened to show her protest loosened gradually giving way for his fleshy desire.
Busy in his routine way of enjoying every structure of her physical self, he failed to notice the tears streaming down her cheeks.
Five minutes lapsed in silence with much physical activity. When she came back to her bed, he was snoring loudly. With a heavy heart she adjusted her pillow. Palpitation of the heart increased suddenly and she started to sweat profusely.
Now-a-days she felt a drain in her brain cells for a sense of numbness started to spread across starting from her spines. Exhaustion set in bringing blankness and uneasiness.
Saranya remembered the passionate moments they shared in spite of difficult situations. She always loved to sleep with her head on his shoulders. The closeness brought to her a sense of relief and comfort. Rainy days made their nights warmer with tight hugs and more love. If she happened to remember those days, they were just a part of a dream. She could not even believe she enjoyed such sun shine in her life.
The days of cleanliness and the smell of prosperity evaded her life. But the air she breathed in smelt of dirt and choking smoke of cheap beedis. The home that lit her thoughts with perfumes of jasmine and perfume sticks failed to bring a change in their lives.
“How should I get rid of this disgusting life?” She could not find a way out. This is not a problem exclusive to her. She knew so many women who were struggling to breathe healthy in a suffocating family life. Yet, in the Indian society it is considered as a way of life that women need to compromise.
It has become twice the burden for the Indian women who are educated and earn, while looking after their families and doing all kinds of household chores. Invisible pain existed in their lives. It is learned helplessness that made them suffer silently.
Every night eluded with undisturbed sleep started to show on her mental health. Her brain started to experience bouts of insufficient sodium and potassium. Numbness spread across her brain every week after having the forced intercourse. Physically, she looked normal but, mentally things were not normal.
Saranya travelled through her memories to her college days. Every day girls from her neighbourhood took the bus from a common point. Around 9 am everyone assembled there for the bus. One day one of her close friends, Thilaga, broke into tears on seeing her.
“What happened? Why are you crying?” Saranya questioned.
“I had a bad dream yesterday about you.”
“Interesting!” Saranya teased her.
“Don’t laugh. I saw you immolate yourself. And I wanted to save you but you were charred to death.” Thilaga could not control her tears. “You are safe. I wish that dream will not come true.”
Saranya looked at her eyes brimming with tears.“Stupid, I will never do such a foolish thing,” Saranya could not control her laughter.
“I promise you I will never do such a thing even if life is so cruel with me.” Saranya assured her.
What made her talk so? Life became cruel at every instance. Every hurdle in her life tested her patience. But, she never lost her confidence. She believed an unseen divine guidance helped her move ahead in life.
Still she remembered the evening she spent at Thilaga’s home. The cool evening breeze from the nearby hills chilled her nape. It was a day in Marghazli (November-December) and Thilaga decided to conduct Tulasi Kalyanam or Tulasi’s marriage.
The holy sacred plant Tulasi, fresh and green stood tall inside the Tulasi madam. Thilaga placed an idol of Lord Krishna near the plant. She smeared the trunk of the herbal plant with turmeric and kumkum. Strands of jasmine flowers decorated the plant and it sent a waft of mesmerising perfume in the evening breeze.
A small yellow 40 watts bulb at the corner of the garden mildly illuminated the surroundings. Except for this faint light, the light from the Kuthuvilaku lit in front of the plant shed some light.
The big kolam drawn with rice flour sparkled white in the faint light. The red kavi colour also looked bright on the white walls of the tulasi madam. Two tall banana trees with flowers stood at the front of the house that announced the local about the marriage in the house. Radha who lived near Thilaga’s house also came to attend the wedding. Keshav, a common friend of Thilaga and Saranya’s, also came along with his brother’s daughter.
Around 6:30 pm, the priest from the nearby Vinayakar temple came to conduct the marriage. The holy mantras evoked a sense of deep meditation and Saranya felt the whole place suddenly turned into a divine sanctum where gods never hesitated to come and bless.
Keshav stood at the corner of the garden in his usual posture, with hands folded across. His curly hair reflected the light from the passing vehicles. Saranya could see his sharp nose, his perfect eyes, and the jaw that uplifted his personality.
Saranya always had a soft corner for him in her heart. But he always maintained the distance. They belonged to the same caste and even if she wanted to marry him there would be no problem. She always shared her stories with him and he would return them after writing his comments. If this was a marriage ceremony that happened between her and Keshav, how it would be. Saranya could not avoid her stupid thoughts.
After the marriage ceremony, Thilaga served a delicious dinner. Saranya still remembered how she sat near Keshav and ate together. Those were the precious moments that she would never forget.
The next day when Saranya met Thilaga during the tea break, she shared her thoughts.
“How I wish to go away from here before he gets married” Thilaga frowned at her.
“What nonsense you are talking? Are you in love with him?” She enquired.
“No. Yet, I don’t want to see him married. I could not tolerate another girl in his life.”
Thilaga warned her not to speak anything foolish to him and mar the regards he had on her.
“Ok,” with a sigh, Saranya accepted.
Memories brought tears. Saranya took the file where she had preserved all stories that she wrote during her teens. Reading Keshav’s comments made her cry bitterly. Decades had gone, yet, the handwritten memories brought in her fresh memories. That gave her confidence to live again.
“I had someone who respected me as a human being and ready to give confidence to face life as it is.” Saranya wiped away her tears.
“I will face life and I will win.”
Saranya will definitely succeed in her vow.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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