Story 116

In continuation of Story 115.
The Story begins here


“Everything is so messed up” she said to her best friend in school.
“Tell me about it!” her friend exclaimed; her eyes set on a guy talking to another girl in the parking space of the school.
“I think we both are crushing on the same guy” she said
“What! No way. Back off. I told you he’s mine.” Her friend reacted.



“What the hell are you talking about?” the girl asked, confused.
“Him” her friend replied, nodding towards the guy. “Whom are you talking about?” she continued.
“Keep him. I am not talking about him.” The girl said, wiping her sweaty palms on her school uniform.


“I think mom and I are crushing on the same guy. The guy we are staying with.” She clarified for her friend. “You know, I dreamed about him in the morning.” The girl blushed as she confided in her friend. “It felt so weird, I woke up because of the dream and hoped I had not said anything in my sleep because mom sleeps next to me. But when I opened my eyes, she was not there. I got up to look for my mom and I saw her sleeping next to him. I wanted to wake her up and ask her what she was doing in bed with the man, but I saw the cologne strip on his forehead, and I knew what had happened.” The girl told her friend, but it was more to convince herself.
“I did not like seeing them together in bed, especially since the dream was still fresh in my mind.”



“Ask her to keep her paws off of that man, then.” Her friend stated matter-of-factly.
“How can you say something like that!” The girl replied, angrily. She was already annoyed because of the whole mess and her friend was not helping.
“He’s too young for her, anyways.” Her friend shrugged her shoulders “And” she continued, “He’s too old for you.” She said, stressing on the ‘too’ and took a bite of her sandwich.
It was lunch time and they were sitting on the bench near the playground eating their sandwiches.



“There’s nothing like old or young, when it comes to relationships. Ask my father, he’s having sex with a woman much younger than him.” The girl said, putting down her sandwich. She was not hungry anymore.
The sour taste of the ugly truth had ruined her taste buds.
“My mom is too young for him, as well.” The girl whispered.
“Guys can date women younger than them.” The friend shared her two cents.
“Nonsense. It’s only about compatibility, companionship and love.” The girl said dreamily.



“Oh my! Look at you, all philosophical” the friend teased but the girl was not in the mood to react to that comment.
“My mom deserves to be happy.” She whispered.
“I know, she does.” Her friend said, wrapping her arm around her best friend.
“I think he will make her happy.” The girl said, tears in her eyes.
“I saw them together today.” she continued.
Her friend knew it was time to keep quiet and listen. She held the girl’s hand in hers and looked at the girl who had started crying.



“They looked so good together. But I was jealous. I want that kind of security in my life. You know, he fought with the society goons for my mom.” The girl talked, fully aware that she needed to get it off her chest and her best friend was a good listener.
“My father has brought that whore to our house.” The girl said bitterly. She disliked calling him her father, but she did that out of respect for her mother. Her mother had insisted that despite the situation, she should not talk to her father disrespectfully and to show respect even when he was not around. She admired her mother for the way she handled the whole situation.



“When I walked to the bedroom, my mother was in his arms, crying. I assumed she had seen my father with the woman because I did, from the living room window. The girl said wiping her tears.
The bell rang indicating that the lunch time was over.
“You are too young to be burdened by all this messy stuff.” Her friend said sympathetically.



“Just let it be. Let your mom handle everything. She’s a good woman, she knows things. Let her be there for you.” She continued and squeezed the girl’s hand.
“I want to be there for her, too.” The girl replied.
“Then, be there for her. Tell her how much you love her. I am sure that will be enough for your mother. Don’t let on how you feel about the man, don’t say or do anything that will make her self-conscious or embarrassed about her situation with the man.” Her friend said.


The girl turned to face her friend and hugged her. That was a valuable advice only a best friend could give.
“Let’s go” the friend said, and the girls got up to go. The guy her friend was staring at walked past them and her friend gasped as his arm brushed against hers. The girl looked at her friend and they both giggled on way to their classroom.


***


She never liked the way her father treated her mom, but she had no say in the matter. She was scared of her father, never dared to open her mouth in front of him. Saying anything against him was out of question. Therefore, she was surprised by her own action when her father accused her mom for having an extra-marital affair, she had slapped her father. “Look who’s talking” she had said but her mother had stopped her. Not only that, her mother made her apologize to her father for slapping him. She had stormed out of the house after apologizing.


She did not hate her mother for what she made her do; in fact, that made her respect her mom more. She should have not left her mother alone in the house with the monster that her father had turned into. She realized that when she returned home.


The main door was open, and it was dark inside the house. She stepped in and called out to her mom. She grew worried when her mom did not answer. She rushed to her parent’s bedroom and screamed. Her mother was lying on the floor, crying; her hair matted with perspiration, eyes swollen and lips bleeding, her saree pushed up to her knees and her blouse torn. She rushed to her mother and straightened her saree and helped her sit up straight. Her mother hid her face in her palms and started sobbing; he wrapped her arms around her mother and her mother had cried in her arms and had cried, too

The memories of that evening still haunted her.


***


Her husband blamed her for the disrespect his daughter showed him. So, he punished her. How blind he was to his own actions! He did not give it a moment’s thought that his daughter’s attitude towards him had everything to do with his affair and how she had seen her father treating her mother. Girls these days, they grow up so fast, she thought to herself. Just the other day her daughter had come to her saying that she had started menstruating. Her daughter was younger than her when she had gotten her first period. There are many factors, she knew, which influenced the growing up of a girl that reflected in the hormonal changes; but in her daughter’s case she was sure it was the stress of the whole situation.


Her husband did not know about the kind of support she had from her daughter. She had been surprised as well, that day. The day she had spent in the stranger’s house and changed into the saree he had bought for her.

She had rolled the saree and pushed it under the bed and had totally forgotten about it later. When she remembered, she had looked under the bed, the saree was not there.
Later, her daughter had told her that she had found the saree, folded it neatly and kept it in her wardrobe because her father would never go through her wardrobe. She did not have to tell her daughter that she had hid the saree under the bed because she did not want her husband to find out about the saree. She told her how she had gone out and locked herself out of the house, she had skipped the part about spying on her husband. She told her daughter about the period mishap and how the neighbor had helped her. Her daughter understood.


She thought about that day –
The restlessness and the anger but above all the weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. She had been too tired to move yet she had walked to the window to open it, to take a breath of fresh air and see her neighbor for one last time before she became sick and was confined to the bed. She was about to close the window when she saw him. He was a mess. He seemed angry. Why was he angry? Was it because of what was happening in her life or was it something else? Why would he care about what was happening in her life? For the same reason he cared to take her home and let her change her stained clothes. Humanity. Whatever it was, it felt good that someone cared. Her husband did once, but lately he had been too self-centered to realize what a mess she had turned into. Smiling on the outside, she was broken beyond repair from within. She held on together on the outside for the sake of her daughter.

Seeing the neighbor before walking away from the window warmed her heart. She should have closed the window, but she did not. She left it open. It was as if she was giving him part access to her life.


-A few days later -
While she was recuperating, her daughter had returned the saree to the neighbor and thanked him for the help. Her husband, who had been forced to stay at home to take care of her finally found a way to walk out one evening. When he returned, he went for a quick shower and then sat next to her, she turned and slept with her back to him. She fell asleep again and did not know how her husband had taken to the insult. He did not touch or bother her, that was more than enough for her.


She had just started moving around the house again, doing simple chores when he told her that he had to go on another business trip. She had been surprised by her reaction; she was happy to see him go. His absence did not matter much to her. Her daughter helped her with the chores. One afternoon she had been out for buying groceries when she felt dizzy and lost her balance right in front of her house. Her neighbor had rushed to help her stand and walked her inside the house carrying the grocery bags.


He’d stayed when he realized that she was alone at home. She should have thanked him at the door and not let him in. He was bad news. He made her feel cared for. Every time he looked at her, she felt wanted. His desires were evident in his eyes. Despite the knowledge, she let him in. She hated that she knowingly encouraged him. Her devotion to her husband was quickly fading but that did not mean she wanted to get into the bed with another man. But she liked the fact that someone else cared about her, made her feel special.


She made tea for him, they chatted. He asked her how she was, whether she had confronted her husband. She noticed the disappointment in his eyes when she told him that she had not confronted her husband. She wanted to explain to him why she had done what she had done, rather not done what she was supposed to do. She wanted him to know that she had gulped down her anger and secretly nursed her wounded pride for the sake of her daughter. And, that she did. She told him. His response was not what she was expecting. What he said hurt her, more than she expected. He said, “Don’t ever tell that to your daughter” and he had walked out. She was hurt, she had slammed the door shut the moment he had stepped out of the house. But she realized later that he had been right. Telling her daughter that she was still stuck in a broken relationship for her sake, was like indirectly blaming her for being there in her life. Her daughter was a blessing and she did not want her daughter to think otherwise.


She had gathered courage and walked across the street to apologize to the man. She knocked on the door and waited. She rang the doorbell a couple of times and waited; she grew worried when he did not open the door. She assumed he was disappointed in her and was angry and did not want to face her. She turned around to go, that’s when she heard the sounds. She walked to the window and saw that her neighbor was throwing a tantrum, or so it seemed. His bedroom was a mess. His shirt was unbuttoned, his hair matted with sweat. Things were thrown on the bedroom floor, the bedsheet pulled off. He was hyper-ventilating. He was having a panic attack, she thought and called out to him.
“Open the door” she had yelled at him.



Story 117