Story 43

She looked outside the window of the bus. Phase two of her life had just begun. The trees, different structures, unknown cities that seemed to whiz past the bus resembled her life she was leaving behind. The life that had been miserable; memories that would haunt her forever. The cool evening breeze felt good on her face and she closed her eyes; inviting the memories to invade.

She had just finished school and wanted to study further.  Her father supported her decision and she set out filling forms of different universities, hoping to get into one of the best. That’s when she met him. One out of the many students standing in the queue at the cafeteria. They shared the same table as they ate their lunch, they discussed colleges and exchanged phone numbers. Then, days later they went to submit forms together. They became friends and when they got admission in the same college; they fell in love.

The sudden halting of the bus pushed her out of her reverie. She felt a shiver running down her spine as she saw new people climbing into the bus. Her eyes scanned the crowd for anyone that might be a danger to her; not really knowing whom she was looking for. When the new people had settled in and the bus started; she realized she had been holding her breath. She relaxed and rested her head on the head-rest. Beads of sweat trickled down from her hair, on to her neck and then over the head-rest. She realized that the back of her shirt and the seat was soaked in sweat. The sweat was soon mixed with tears from her eyes as memories came flooding, rushing towards her at high speed, suffocating her and all of it was because she feared being caught running away.

Everyone in the college knew that they would get married eventually and they did. They had a happy life and were soon expecting a child when he decided to bring home his parents from their house in India to take care of her. That’s when the drama began. Being brought up in a big house, raised in a totally different culture; matters got worse faster than her pregnancy progressed. To add to the chaos; he left his house one day without a word. It was later, that a goodbye note was found under the bedside table – he had been planning it for a while and had finally found his path. He decide to join the army. ‘Found his path – bullshit.” She had said to herself; he was an escapist. He threw her into the fire and then he, himself ran out of the fire escape, she thought. Hell broke loose when his parents found out and obviously they blamed it all on her. She moved out of the house; her father let her in and soon she settled down. She never heard from him, she did not know whether he wrote to her. She did not want to know, she was mad at him. She did not dare to return to that house. She knew he would come back after the training and she was ready to wait to ask him the questions that were disturbing her. She started having nightmares because of the mess and her father suggested that she should socialize. She did. She met new people, made new friends. One of those few friends showed his interest in courting her, which she politely turned down. He told her he did not have any problem with her being pregnant and she told him she was still married and she still loved the man she was married to.

One day, out of the blue, her in-laws appeared at the door of her parent’s house and things took an ugly turn from there. Her in-laws apologized and begged her to come back. Her father refused and she kept quiet. Weeks later, she decided to give them a second chance. She decided to go back mainly because she wanted to find out whether he had written to her. Her in-laws welcomed her with a smile and hugs. Her mother-in-law took care of her and accompanied her to the doctor who later advised her to take bedrest.
‘Is it a son?’ her mother-in-law tried to find out by asking the doctor. Before the doctor could speak she told her mother-in-law that she did not want to know. Her mother-in-law let it go. Things were fine until then - 

The bus halted yet again and she opened her eyes. Couple of people climbed in the bus and settled down immediately. The bus began its journey again. She had bought ticket to the farthest destination on the route; a place from where yet another journey would take her to the place she wanted to go. Running away from what she had left behind was not easy.

He returned after his training; right on time to meet his new-born son. He was happy, she was angry. He tried to convince her but her anger had doubled postpartum. He decided to give her some time. Many months later she decided to give him another chance and he accepted it willingly. He made love to her that night and the next morning he told her that he was returning home to India with his parents and she could come if she wanted to. She was sceptical about uprooting from where she had lived her entire life to some place she had never visited and she told him so. She asked for some time to think it over and he agreed. 
When she woke up the next morning; the first thing she noticed was that her baby was not in the crib. She got worried and rushed out of the bedroom, her instinct told her that something was wrong. Neither her husband nor her in-laws were found anywhere, their stuff was gone as well. She fainted and collapsed on the floor.

The bus driver applied sudden brakes that threw everyone forward in their seats. Instinctively, she placed her hand on the hand-rest of the adjacent seat; stopping the forward fall of her sleeping child. She looked at him, he was too small to travel but she had no option. She had to get him away from this place before it was too late.
It took many months for her to find out the whereabouts of his family in India. The man, who she thought was merely infatuated towards her had helped her find them. The facts that she learned were devastating. She was told that he was married before he moved to USA for studies; in fact he moved out because he wanted time away from his marriage. He’d come to USA, pretended to fall in love with her, married her, gotten her pregnant, invited his parents to USA, ran out on her – visited his first wife in India under the pretext of joining the army and now – he had returned home, to his wife – with his parents and his son. Their son. He had taken away her son from her. Her father assured her that he would do everything possible to get his grandchild back. She knew it would take time for the legal procedures; she did not want to miss this chance – she feared they might disappear from their house if they found out that she had knowledge about their whereabouts. 

The man from the party, her friend, arranged for her trip to India. He had wanted to join but she wanted him to stay in USA in case she needed help over here. It was a long journey from USA to India but the journey from the airport to her cheat husband’s house was the hardest. They were shocked to see her standing at the door, only a duffel-bag in hand and anger on her face. How could they think that she would give up on her child so easily? The moment she saw her son in the arms of another woman; her husband’s first wife; she lost control. “Give me my baby” she yelled as she moved towards the woman not realizing that her husband had moved to place himself between her and the woman holding her baby. Before she knew what happened she felt the sting of the slap on her face. She lost her balance but she steadied herself before falling flat on the floor.

If anyone asked her now about what happened moments after she recovered from the slap; she knew she would not be able to narrate. To be able to narrate what happened, it was important to remember in first place. Everything was a blur except the part when she found herself covered in blood holding axe in one hand and her crying son in another. Through her blurred vision she remembered seeing four dead bodies lying sprawled in the house. From that moment on until now; she had been running. 

She had washed herself clean and changed into fresh clothes at a cheap motel where people minded their own business but she knew that it won’t take too long for the local police to follow her trail and then people minding their own business would get shit scared and provide information about her. It was not safe for her to stay at one place. She had called her friend in the USA who had suggested that she go to the U.S. Embassy as soon as she could. That was exactly what she was trying to do. 

The bus reached its final destination and she climbed out of the bus with her son. She hired a cab that would take her to the U.S. Embassy.

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