Blood Cleanses Honour
“Stop pampering yourself with the lethal thoughts of “happily ever after”. It exists only in books,” people had warned her. But she believed. She believed in him, and she believed in herself. She believed that their love was true. And so far, it has been so. Three years of a promising relationship, and two years of peaceful marriage.
She calls her friend and tells her, “I still think that happily ever after is possi…” the call disconnects before she completes.
“No, I haven’t jinxed it,” she doubtfully reassures herself. An eerie silence prevails. Just as she is about to redial the number, her phone rings. An unknown number. The dread still lingers within her. She takes the call and hears a familiar voice, “Hello.”
Her nightmare seems to have come true. “They’ve found us,” she says to herself. A thousand pictures spring up from the dreaded past that, she has been trying to leave behind, for the last two years. She fails to find the strength in her voice. Again the diabolical voice, “Hello”, in a tone of suspect.
A shivering finger taps the screen and the call disconnects. A thousand possibilities crop up in her mind; a virulent rain of anticipations pouring and withering her heaven apart.
When dreams break apart, they implode volcanoes, dissolving everything that is good in our lives. “What will happen now?” she asks herself, “Will I have to run away again? And this time, with my one year old daughter?”
She remembers very well how they ran for their lives when, as a resolute and recalcitrant couple, they had tied the knot against the norms of the society. She still remembers her brothers chasing them like bigoted missionaries, eliminating any traces of infidels they’d find. She remembers those sleepless nights that haunt her in her as nightmares to this day.
“Enough of running. I’ll face it. Its ‘my’ life,” a braver and saturated part of her own self tells her. But perhaps, she is wrong. She is an Indian and more importantly, from Haryana. It’s a patriarchal society. She is a property of her parents for the first few years of her life, and then of those whom they marry her off to. She is supposed to ask for the boy’s caste before talking to him because God forbid if she falls in love with the boy she loves, and he turns out to be of another caste, she would have to find herself ostracized by her family.
So, love is a risky business.Though, she could have accede to the shotgun marriage, which was also the only poison in the menu, and for which she’d have to pay with her hymen, which she was supposed to protect for years, from those she fell in love with, and preserve it only for the stranger she would be forced to sleep with. Good luck it is if the stranger turns out to be a sensible human who respects her.
“Seriously!”, she thinks to herself, “The word ‘luck’ must be having its etymological roots in India. Indians are in a dire need of it. Bad luck for Taliban that such a society is called a talibanised society. I wonder why Taliban isn’t called an Indianised society.”
She prepares to face it this time. The phone rings again and she musters the courage to answer it. Puts a good fight but fundamentally, she is an Indian daughter. Family and emotions are her weaknesses. They emotionally blackmail her and lure her into acceptance and reverence of her inter-caste choices. “Okay, I promise, I’ll visit you soon.” she speaks into the phone, acceding to their repeated requests.
Mephistopheles has his ways.
A cloud of memories bursts, and nostalgia inundates her mind. The happy days of childhood. The welcoming smile complemented with a tight hug, which was all she wanted in the world when she took lunch to the farm where her father toiled indefatigably the entire day.
The years of teenage, when the overprotective glance of her brother, who would take up against the whole village to protect his sister, would keep the jerks off her vicinity.
Of her brief adulthood at her maternal house, she misses the soft caring hands of her mother, very gingerly combing her entangled hair. She remembers it all, the porch, the garden, the fields of her village, her friends and the verandah in which she played with them. “Why did I grow up?”, she exclaims, “Damn you love! Damn you adulthood!”
~Two Days Later ~
“There!” she says out of excitement, pointing at the old rickety bus to her village. She boards with her husband and their one year old toddler. She’s got a big mouth and some butterflies in her stomach.
The thoughts of how she survived the last time and how, just recently won over dogmas of Khap and the society induced a positive aura around her and transformed into a palpable ambience of happiness.
Elated at the thoughts of reunion and a happy life ahead, she finds it impossible stop fantasizing the much awaited future of equability and glory. “Happily ever after!”, she says to herself.
Now, standing at the gate of her house, from which she had run away two years ago, she rubs the goosebumps off her hands, holds her breath and gathers the heart to knock the door. A hope drives her.
The door opens and after two long years her mother, father and brother stand with their arms open in a warm welcome. Tears of happiness fill her eyes.
But the warmth soon turns into an inferno. A welcome like hers goes down the scroll of black history. As soon as they enter the house, she feels a hand clasp her neck from behind. She tries to turn to have a better judgement of the situation but the clutch grows tighter. Overpowered, and her daughter snatched from her arms, she is dragged along to a pole. Her hands are tied around a pole behind her, a duct tape suppressing every scream.
Her senses numb, but her eyes. And with her eyes, she endures the macabre site of her husband knelt down, receiving a garland of heavy blows of an axes and machetes, the warmth of his blood now more vivid to her as it flows down to her feet along with his severed head rolling in it.
“You’ve brought dishonour to our family. Why?”, they ask in disgust. But that question isn’t hers to answer, neither was she given a chance. Another whack and she is relieved of her pains. Their heads lie juxtaposed to each others.
Inseparable, Happily Ever After.
By Nikhil Sharma
(Edited by Soumya Chakraborty)
Image Source: flickr.com