“Mumma, one more story please.”
“No, baby. It’s time to sleep now. I’ll read out two stories to you tomorrow.”
“Yes,” she pulled the blanket over her daughter and kissed her goodnight.
Closing the door of her room, she glanced at the clock in the living room. It was 10 o’clock.
“It’s good that she slept on time,” she sighed.
She always made sure that Pakhi was put to bed before her husband came home. She didn’t want her to see her dad drunk, shouting and hitting her. It used to hurt her a lot when she had to make excuses to Pakhi when the little kid would just want to stay up to show her dad the star she got for her homework or the new drawing that she made. She felt sad for Pakhi, but she had to do it, just to not let the reality thrash her innocent smile.
She sat on the couch thinking what a mess her life had become. It was an arranged marriage and everything seemed perfect and sweet for the first few months. It was not long before his drinking habits became more regular. He started coming home late. Any question asked would ignite his anger and he did not even hesitate in hitting her. The first time he hit her, she felt dejected and left his place. Her hopes shattered when her parents insisted that she should not do this, for the sake of their respect in the society and above all, she was pregnant. All the emotional convincing forced her to return.
She was lost in thoughts of the past when she heard the doorbell. Frantically getting up, she wiped her tears and ran towards the door. The doorbell had been rung a couple of times again by the time she opened the door. Her husband stood outside, leaning on the wall.
“What took you so long?”
“I’m sorry. I was in the kitchen.”
Pushing her aside, he stormed into the house and sat down at the dining table.
She rushed into the kitchen and hustled to get everything ready to serve him dinner.
She stood beside the table as he ate.
“What is this? Don’t you even know how to cook?” he yelled and threw the plate on the floor.
“Sorry, I’ll make something else. Just give me five minutes.”
“What sorry?” he stood up and slapped her hard.
She tried hard to stop her tears when she saw Pakhi standing at her room’s door. She signalled her to go inside. He saw her.
“Pakhi! Why are you awake? Go to sleep or I’ll thrash you too.”
Pakhi looked scared as he walked to her. She rushed inside and quickly closed the door.
He continued to shout at his wife and threw things around until he passed out after some minutes.
She rushed to Pakhi’s room. Pakhi was shivering in a corner, clutching on to her teddy. She hugged her and calmed her down. That day, she saw terror in the eyes of her five year old child. She wiped away her tears and convinced Pakhi that she will make everything fine.
Picking her up in her arms, she decided to leave that demon and move on. This was going to be difficult, but she was ready to take on any challenge for the sake of her child. The worry for her child gave her the strength to fight, defeat and break free.
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