The Echo

Hers was a troubled relationship. He abused her, threatened to leave her, tried to intimidate her with physical violence, and forced himself on her every night.

 

That’s not how it had started. Before marriage, he had been an angel.

 

“Don’t worry, Uncle and Aunty, I mean, Papaji and Mummyji. I will treat her like the princess that she is,” he had assured her old parents who had fallen for his sweet talk.

 

“Sweetheart, it would be a pleasure to spend the rest of my life with someone as beautiful as you,” he had told her, as if she really meant something to him.

 

“It just doesn’t feel like an arranged marriage. He loves me so much. It’s so surreal, just like a dream,” she had told herself over and over.

 

It began on the day of the wedding.

 

“I did say that I don’t expect anything, Papaji and Mummyji. But you should have used your common sense. My family has expectations. I can’t just take a hatchback car home. I am strictly against dowry, but at least, you could have thought of some better wedding gifts!” he shouted at them, revealing the monster inside him for the first time.

 

“Aap FD tudwa lo, Papaji. Tussi chinta na karo, I love your daughter a lot. She will rule the house.”

 

“How can I give you the money at this hour? Banks are closed,” her father had explained.

 

“It’s perfectly fine, Papaji. Just hand over the FD papers to me. We can visit the bank tomorrow,” he had grinned.

 

The wedding happened, finally.

But worse was yet to come.

 

“I am really tired today. I want to sleep. I love you,” she had told him that night in bed.

 

“If you love me, how can you sleep?” he had grinned again.

 

“What do you mean?” she had asked.

 

That night, she was raped, for the first time of many to come.

 

“Samdhanji, your necklace looks nice. Why didn’t you gift us something like this during the wedding? See, how empty your daughter’s neck looks,” the groom’s mother asked as she stuffed roasted cashew in her mouth.

 

The girl’s mother promptly removed the piece of jewellery.

 

“You are so lucky to have such a thoughtful mother-in-law, beta,” the woman winked at her son as she quickly put the necklace in her own purse.

 

“Papaji, I suffered heavy losses in the share market. I need ten lakhs urgently to pay money to the lender. Why don’t you mortgage your land in Manesar?” the monster asked his father-in-law.

 

And months passed.

 

“Not tonight, please. You know I am pregnant,” she pleaded.

 

The rape that night resulted in a miscarriage.

 

“Kulta, kha gayi apne bachche ko,” the mother-in-law taunted her.

 

The taunts became frequent.

 

So did the extortion.

 

“Papaji, my business failed. I need funds. Mummyji wali FD hai na? I need just three lakhs,” he pleaded, nay, ordered him.

 

 

 

“I can’t, son. I can’t. It’s for my younger daughter’s future. I can’t,” the father begged with folded hands.
And that’s when the abuses began.

 

“Your father is such a fucker. Does he think I will steal his money? That Sister******,” he shouted at her.

 

“He can send her over to this house too. I can manage two wives, you know…” he said.

 

“You are a jerk!” the wife replied.

 

“What did you say, bitch?” he yelled.

 

That night, he beat her up with slaps and punches.

 

It took a long time. But it happened. One day, she filed a police complaint. The whole family of the monster was arrested. The court found them guilty on multiple counts. The evil was put behind the bars, and the innocent finally walked free.

 

She travelled to the hills. She had always loved their grandeur.

 

She asked the driver to take her uphill. The driver drove as far up as he could.

“The road ends here madam. Are you sure you want to walk up alone? It may not be safe,” the driver expressed his genuine concern.

 

She simply smiled. There was no place that was perfectly safe, not even a house, because evil could lurk anywhere.
She started climbing uphill. The path was narrow, and with every step she took, some of the soil broke off.

 

She continued to climb up.

 

After an hour, she finally reached the top. She could see the valley and the Sun shining in the distance.

 

She shouted out loud at the top of her voice.

 

“I am alive. I am free.”

 

And the mountains finally echoed all the good things.

 

 


 

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