By Sadho Ram
He pounced on her, in his quest to strip her off her tender skin just as he had stripped every single piece of cloth off her body, ignoring her muffled voice, engulfed in his own false pride; he continued the vicious demonstration of his manliness on her.
“But Pa, I like someone else” – she tried to make him understand.
“That doesn't mean I’m going to let you do what you want and spoil my status in society” – he at once declared his intentions.
She, on the other hand, lay there, beneath him, motion-&-emotionless. Her eyes looking almost blank, almost close to being tear-less too, but the pain that this ‘love-making’ was causing has filled her with a shame she has been feeling since her ‘first’ night and it would often reach its limits, which only her eyes were capable of expressing. The eyes which used to shimmer with light of life, the eye which once housed thousands of dreams, today those same eyes did not even had tears to call their own. Paleness was their only companion and nothing gave them solace anymore, nothing.
Our Ragini (yes, that’s what we are going to call her from now on) had never felt so helpless in her entire life. She could not fathom as to what to do to make things right. She wanted to cry, shout at the top of her voice, probably to that extent that will make her ears go numb. But she couldn't even utter a sigh, though she tried, but all she could muster up was her own silence; silence which frightened her, made her miserable, her own silence.
Wherever his hands touched her body, they left their marks there, part red, part brown, and with each mark, came a numbing screech from her those furiously bleeding lips; the same lips which once were as tender as petals of a blood red rose and seemed almost rose like when the Sun showered his silvery rays upon them, the same lips today seemed lifeless, almost, as if trying to breath their last before they would be freed from the pain, but freedom doesn't come easily, and freedom from pain can only be experienced in dreams, real life option is just not viable. But dreams have long ago abandoned her paled eyes, and so her lips kept enduring the pain while her eyes tried to reflect it, trying but failing at last.
“You still standing here? Go, go and get ready. Harish’s family are on their way.” – He said while looking up from the newspaper and got back to it.
He kept shoving himself inside her. After he was done, satisfying his own pride and the falseness of it, he spat on her looking at her with disgust, and when his disgust grew, he kicked her hard, hard enough to throw her off the bed. He then dozed off to sleep, after all this was his daily routine, a physical exercise, which provided him with a night of peaceful sleep.
“I don’t care.” – She said trying to sound as firm as she could.
“It doesn't matter to me. You will do what I said.” – He uttered in rage, his eyes filled with contempt for her, his own daughter.
Ragini knew nothing would deter his stern father from his decision. At that moment she missed her mother. She somehow had this feeling deep down inside her that if her mother would have been alive, she would have understood her.
She lay there just as she was after being kicked off the bed, even though an hour had passed, close to being senseless, covered in her own blood, over the concrete floor, her bare body trying to take solace from the cold surface of it, her dried up eyes slowly fading off, and she trying to fall sleep so that she could go back to her past.
“But what’s wrong with him? He is a well educated man, works in a good company… if that’s your concern… then he will keep me happy, pa.” – She once again tried to make him see how badly she wanted him.
This was the moment that Raghuveer Singh looked up from the newspaper, took off his specks and spoke in a tone Ragini had never knew her dear father possessed.
“He is a Muslim, a bloody fucking Muslim, and that’s what wrong with him. I don’t give a damn if he is well educated or not or works in some big-shot company. At the end of the day he is what he is … a bloody Muslim.”
Her mornings were more miserable than her nights. They were murkier than the murkiest of nights. They were, in fact, now devoid of any Sun or even hope of it. Every morning, after waking up, she found herself screaming, raucously. That gory hole in between her legs torn with dried up blood spots all around it. The hole which had inflated in all these years, but still, it kept tearing up, night after night, throbbing, morning after morning. She wished to fold her legs, hold close to her chest, but afraid, in fact so afraid that she couldn't even try it in her thoughts too, fearing it might amplify the throbbing and a fresh river of blood would ooze out from the pores.
His face had turned almost red and his eyes only had hatred in them.
“…and from the day I came to know you seeing a bloody Muslim, you or your happiness, nothing meant anything to me. All that matters now is what I want. So get this in your head; you are going to say YES to Harish. Now go and get ready.”
She couldn't bring herself to believe all that she was hearing. Her own father despised her, and for what? For loving a guy from another caste, or was it the past?
She woke up, same as the previous morning, screaming, her face swollen, aching, the part below her abdomen, torn, hurting even more. She tried to scratch the concrete floor with her broken nails, trying, as if to savour the pain, yes, savour; after all she was used to it now, after all these years of continuously being ‘raped’, she had finally given herself up. ‘Better get used to it’ – she often thought.
It’s not like she wanted to live, but she couldn't die either. She wasn't that brave, no, she just couldn't bring herself up to kill her own self, just like she couldn't bring herself up, in the past, as to how to think through the denial of her father and go her own way. Because if only she could, she wouldn't be today what she is – a whore. The only difference her ‘customer’ was not some new stranger every night but her own husband, who was living up to his promise, night after night, he made to her father.
“Don’t worry, uncle, I know how to get that bloody Muslim out of her head. I promise, she will curse herself for loving that filthy piece of shit, that bloody Muslim.”
And Raghuveer Singh’s eyes had beamed with light. Knowing that his pride will be restored, he couldn't control the smile that flashed at his lips, he felt relieved at the assurance that the culprit will be punished. After all she has to be, she did the crime. Crime of falling in love, but the most heinous one, she fell for a bloody Muslim. The same Muslims who had taken away his wife from him, the woman he loved more than anything, the woman who meant everything to him, and he couldn't do anything. Why? Because it was the fury of a mob, which came like a wild thunder and took away his shelter of solace, his companion around whom he had build his nest. And mob has no face, no identity. It do not leave its traces, no one recognizes a mob. Only thing recognizable is the purpose, the rage that forms a mob, the hatred that makes a mob a mob. And sometime the religion which gathers dust and turns it into a stone. Yes, as hard as stone, a mob is but a stone with no eyes to see, no ears to hear, only purpose to hit, whoever comes in front, hit, not to hurt, but to kill.
But he knew. He knew the religion of that mob. He knew that it was Muslim mob. He knew faces which formed that mob, and he was well aware of the identity behind those faces, each one of them. In fact they were still so fresh in his memory, that even after 8 years, he could recognize them, in the streets, in that train compartment which he boarded daily for his office, and he could hear their voices, whispering, but he was helpless. He wanted to shoot each one of them, and he would do it daily, in his dreams, yes, because he knew he couldn't in real life.
Ah, no, he wasn't a coward. He was, in fact, worse. He too, was the mob. A mob against a mob, human against humans, against humanity, against peace, against everything that once united them; Hindus and Muslims, Diwali and Eid, Holi and Baqrid, Sewai and Kheer, Aadaabs and Namastes, Praathna and Ajaan. In fact, a world was torn into two, divided.
The Mob; and no mob have a face or identity. It do not leave its traces, no one recognizes a mob. Only thing recognizable is the purpose, the rage that forms a mob, the hatred that makes a mob a mob. And sometime the religion which gathers dust and turns it into a stone. Yes, as hard as stone, a mob is but a stone with no eyes to see, no ears to hear, only purpose to hit, whoever comes in front, hit, not to hurt, but to kill, to destroy, to divide.
Author's Note: This story is an attempt to remember all those women who were denied their share of happiness, their choice of life, what they wanted, and were pushed into a life worse than any death could have been, and for what? In the name of religion, caste, pride, status and don’t know what more. I apologize for the words that I’ve used in this story, but let me assure you that they were just used to depict and provoke the right emotions. But if you think my attempt was deliberate, then please bear with my ignorance.