Friday, August 15, 2014

The Fallen - A short story

There is a woman in every downfall and every woman has fallen. I am a woman. I have fallen and so has my mother. This is a story of our fall.

37 years ago my mother signed up to fight a lost battle. Today she is diseased and bed ridden… yet, every minute of life is another battle lost.

My mother was born in a tiny village of Punjab. From here on I will name her Ahana (Sanskrit n. First ray of Sun) and address her with that name for the sake of convenience. I want to disassociate with her so she could be what she truly is – an individual… not a mother, neither a wife, nor that who belongs to anyone but herself.

Ahana’s mother lost her entire family to the Independence struggle and escaped death to end up as the second wife of a man with no libido. Social vultures hollered outside in the open, until she forced out three man-children and a girl from an otherwise platonic marriage. The girl became Ahana.  She is submissive and submitting.  Life, she believes, is a series of misfortunes and acceptance is the only salvation.

Ahana lost her father at a young age and her mother sent her off with the first man who offered his hand in marriage. That man became my father and the biggest violator of our collective lives… or is the violator Ahana? Did she love too much? I often ask myself.

My father was a city bred, reasonably educated, conventionally good looking man in love with his friend’s sister. My grandfather denied him that freedom. Ahana became the subject of my father’s frustrations; a mere fixture in the bed, a cluster of burning skin under the furious sling, a tear that dropped yet the earth never cried. Forbearance became her defence as she continued loving him, who never loved her back.

In exchange for another day to live and to die, Ahana bartered the childhoods of her three children. I was the youngest and the only female; my father’s defeat and the victory of many a men.

He, who was the closest in kin, inflicted the greatest violence. In the hands of a few-too-many cousins, I was undressed and… un… sung. The only lasting music to reach my ears was my stifled cries and a resounding reminder that an entire age was lost to sexual abuse.

“Where were you then?” I asked Ahana, several years later… in a stranded moment of bitter pain.
She had but one response. In the momentum of love, she had failed to negotiate her freedom and now this cage was her only cradle. Wedged in between of her failed flights, were my innocent wings.

As I grew, the episodes of life started to appear disturbingly similar, only the characters changed faces. My father started to live inside my siblings and their wives wore Ahana’s fractured persona.

Today, the walls in the house have lost colour. There are strokes of cement and hardship everywhere. Sun is a forbidden guest and darkness has fearlessly impregnated the surroundings. Our lives stink of endless grief and dysfunction. There is disease and stigma and yet, Ahana ceaselessly loves, him, who has not and will not love her back.

Where did I go from here and where am I today is for you to think, imagine and believe, for I am not me. I am just a silhouette; a residue; a leftover; an end… of the saree that Ahana wore when I last saw her being dragged by her hair, on to the street, for the world to watch the cruel dance of destiny.

Suffice it by saying that experiences don’t change people, life finds a way to come full circle and women across borders and beyond times, still share the same narrative… just that some fight fiercely and some others never try.

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