– a short story.
She looked at him across the compartment. He looked back at her nonchalantly. There was no trace of any emotion on his face. It was just blank. How could he?? How could he?? She felt crushed, miserable How could he do this to me?? Why did he do this to me?? I love him so much. Didn’t he love me?? How could he look at me in this manner with total indifference after saying all those hurtful things?? Her replies hadn’t mattered at all. Nothing seemed to make a dent in that unconcern of his. That was what hurt her so much, that apathy, the coldness. Why did he marry me if that’s the way he felt about me?? She wanted to burst into tears and sob her heart out, just to ease the band that seemed to tighten around her heart. But she was in a public place, a train. True, today the train was not even half-full. There were none sitting in their part of it anyway. That is why they had been able to talk freely.
It had always been like this. He would start off with some innocuous subject and they would end up arguing. Then it would lead to the most insensitive and unkind things being said. She had learned to read the pattern over time. So she tried her best not to fall into the trap. Today she had not seen it coming. She was already well into what she thought was an innocent conversation which before she knew it had come to this. Why did he do it?? It was so unfair. She felt the constriction in her throat. The tears were ready to flow. She felt helpless, inadequate, frustrated.
And just when she would start explaining herself he would abruptly end the talk indicating he didn’t want to hear anything more. Anything she said after that was received with absolute silence. Plain indifference was all the reaction she would got from then on.
She looked at him again, anguish in her eyes. He yawned, and with a casual look at her arranged himself on the berth and prepared for sleep. His eyes were already closed. Soon she could see the gentle rise and fall of his chest. He was asleep. How could he sleep so peacefully?? He had cut her up into little pieces and left her smarting with the pain and now was sleeping peacefully. How terribly it hurt. She wanted to scream her lungs out, to hit at something. Instead, she angrily brushed the few tears that had dared fill her eyes. She sat staring out of the window of the train.
The beautiful scenery whizzed past her in a blur. How familiar these places were to her! How many times had she gone up and down this same route traveling to and fro to her college hostel? It was one of her favorite areas in the five-hour journey. The blue of the water, the green canopied coconut trees and the clear sky with not a cloud in sight. Unlike my life. She felt the acidic taste of bitterness rise up in her. She used to sit with her face glued to the window during those days, for this stretch of the journey. There would always be a song on her lips which she would be happily humming to herself. There had been hope in her heart and dreams in her eyes. Now there is no song on my lips, not even a sad one. Hopes and dreams seem to have deserted me.
Her sorrow welled within her yet again. The tears that blurred her vision were pushed out by fresh ones, making some trickle down her cheeks. Once again she angrily brushed them away, trying to regain some composure. I don’t want to live anymore. The thought descended on her out of the blue, but she was not surprised. I want to die. If he doesn’t need me, why should I live anyway?? She looked across at the form of the one she loved, sleeping peacefully after causing her so much of pain. Words were his weapons that he used to maim and bruise her. Then he would leave her to her smarting wounds, least bothered about the heartache and agony that tore her apart. I cannot go on, she thought. Her despair had reached new heights today. I have been taking this too long. Helpless rage filled her being. The noise of the train grew louder as it now reached one of the many bridges along the way. The crescendo of the sound matched that of the rising hopelessness in her heart. She had to do something. She rummaged in her bag, found a pen and also an old bill. She scribbled some lines of despair behind the bill. Death, my eternal lover dark, where are you?? Come take me in your arms…
She put the pen and the bill with the scribbled verse back in her handbag and sat with unseeing eyes chaotic thoughts holding her in their spell. No more!! I am going to end it all!! I am going to jump off the train and into the water at the next bridge. She felt a strange sort of calm descend on her at her decision. Will he miss me when I am gone?? Would he hurt the way I am hurting now?? He should realize how it felt. And if he didn’t feel a thing, wasn’t she better off gone from his life??
She could here chatter and laughter from some youngsters at the door to the compartment. How am I going to jump past them?? Wouldn’t they try to stop me?? She did not want to be thwarted in her endeavor. She had to succeed. No drama of a failed attempt. Was the door on the opposite side open?? If I opened it, would the boys become suspicious and interfere?? They might wonder what she was up to. Moreover would he get up and come to investigate?? Going and standing at the door would be so uncharacteristic of a woman like her. What about the door on the other end?? Did it have people standing at the door too?? She could pretend she was going to the washroom. But that door was further away. He might wonder why she was taking a longer route to the further one. He may keep a watch. She did not want that. This side it had to be. She made her choice. In her mind’s eye she heard the warning cries of the boys at the door and the shocked look on his face when he found out. Or would he have the same nonchalant look then too?? She saw herself laid out on the banana leaf with lighted oil lamp and burning incense sticks. Would he shed a tear at this loss?? The thought struck her that she might not even have a funeral. Would they ever find her or would she be food for the fish in the river or the seas?? Thoughts churned her mind. The train sped along the way she knew so well. She sat there waiting for the next bridge.
Then penetrating the thick clouds of grief which covered her like a blanket she heard it. It was a tiny whimper, a feeble cry. She jerked awake as if from a trance. Something tugged at her heart strings. She turned around and gathered the little bundle of joy lying next to her. She held it close to her heart, kissing it gently, letting the tears flow freely, silently.
No little one, I will never leave you alone.
Reposted from shail-mohan blogs @sulekha.com