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It was a worried and irritated Mrs Joshi who returned home that evening. “Anu are you married without telling me?” she asked on entering the house.
Rita who had a love for dramatics said dramatically to her boss Mrs Joshi as soon as she arrived, “Today when Nisha will leave her home, it will be for the last time.”
“Why? Where are they shifting?” asked her boss.
With a sigh at her boss’s simple mind, she explained. “Nisha is leaving her house forever today.” Seeing the confused look on the face in front of her she added, ”She is running away from her home.”
”Why? What happened? Is everything alright? Why should she run away? And how do you know? Does her mother know?”
The Boss being a mother of a marriageable daughter had sympathy for Nisha’s mother.
“Well it is simple,” said Rita, settling down for a nice gossipy tale. “Nisha loves a boy and he loves her too. He works in an office and has a good package. But her mother is against their marriage.”
“I don’t really know. He is from a good family and his parents are willing for the marriage. But he is not from same community.”
Nisha entered . She was looking excited. “Mrs Joshi, if my mother calls here, tell her you don’t know where I am”
”What? You are asking me to lie?”
“It is the question of my life.”
Her daughter who was busy making tea for her was startled and nearly dropped the cup. “No mother. But why are you even asking such a question? First sit down and have tea. Let me take your purse. Yes wash your hands…”
Once her mother was settled Anu sat in front of her and said, ”Now tell me what happened?”
“You know Nisha in our office? Apparently she fell in love with a boy and they are planning to get married, but her mother is against it as the boy is not from the same community but his parents are willing, so she has run away from home and will get married day after tomorrow. And Nisha says that real reason her mother is against the marriage is that she won’t get money from Nisha after her marriage. And Nisha’s father is retired and Nisha and her elder sister are the two earning members, and her mother wants all their money to spend on their brother who is the youngest.”
“Mother take a breath and drink your tea.”
“They have been planning this for months. You know they had rented a flat and every day while coming on duty she smuggled her things out of the house one at a time. She slowly brought her jewellery and clothes and books, and her mother had no idea. But really we cannot check your bags at this age. I mean if you decide to smuggle out your clothes I will have no idea. You have not worn your blue dress for many days. Is it in the house?”
”No mother. It is in laundry. And no I am not smuggling out clothes. But from where did the question of me being married arise?”
“Actually they were planning to get married two month later when her mother goes to her maika for summer. That would have been an easy task. But her elder sister disclosed that she is married since one year and still living in her mothers house. But now as she is pregnant she is planning to tell her mother and go to her husband’s place. You know her sister is married since one year and every day she goes out of the house to do her job she says, but she goes to her husband’s house and goes to work from there, and then returns home late telling her parents that she had to do overtime.”
By this time Anu was thinking that she was hearing a story of a typical melodramatic serial on TV.
“Nisha went from work early and told me not to tell her mother where she was. I refused to lie. So then she agreed to call her mother and tell her that she would not be returning home. I cannot imagine what her mother would go through when she receives such a call. Anu promise me that you will tell me as soon as you fall in love. But never never give me such a call. It is heartbreaking to think what her mother must be going through. Right or wrong she is a mother…”
One month later, it was a subdued and slightly shocked Mrs Joshi who entered the house.
“How was the reception? Did her mother really forgive Nisha and accept her husband? So she is not going to disown her?”Anu asked eagerly. She had been so happy to hear that Nisha’s mother was going to give a reception after the marriage.
“Do you know who her mother was?”
“Is it someone we know? I don’t recall anyone with that surname.”
“You remember the two ladies taking in the parlour about a Minu?”
Anu recalled the conversation. The lady was in the next seat and had a harsh voice. “Yes, Minu got married to that boy. And I did not have to spend a paisa. In fact they gave me money. Your idea of opposing the marriage from start worked. I knew she would plan to run away and get married. Of course there was a scandal but now as I accepted them back my prestige has increased.”
“Minu is Nisha’s pet name and I recognised her mother She was the same woman…” her mother said, still in a daze.
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
From all news reports, clearly, Aftab Poonawalla seems to be a psychopath, and It was a well-strategized story of domestic violence, abuse, subjugation, and a well-planned murder.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence, gaslighting, murder, and abetting violence, and may be triggering to survivors.
One case has gripped the nation and I do not need to mention which. My problem is with how the news reflects a victim’s character. The disrespect we show to someone who was long abused and lives no more is appalling. The disservice we do to her through spoken and written words lies in the sensationalizing of the entire case.
How do you spot a crazy human? They do not have two horns and red eyes. They may have no empathy but will show it to lure the victim, just like a child abuser lures a child with candy. Their grooming styles may vary but it is mostly about creating an untrue sense of safety and security around the victim. They present themselves as this effortless savior, an ultimate generous destination for a mentally and emotionally vulnerable person.
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