Warning: Slightly long and dark post.
He looked around. The cries, the mourning, the sadness of it all, did not seem to make any sense to him. But he did not speak. He stood staring blankly at the creature that lay before them, draped in white. White is meant to be pure, signify the purity of the soul. He could not get himself to imagine, how the soul of a body so impure could be even remotely considered pure! Oh, if only these people would stop crying, he shuddered. But he did not speak.
Just as he had not spoken then. 20 years back, on that fateful night, when two of the three lives involved had changed inevitably. It was a real dark night. When you’re 12, every night is frightful, but that night was something else. He remembered, being woken up from deep sleep by some voices in the room below. He tiptoed, calling akka. But there was no reply. All he could see was a dim light in the room and all he heard were voices - muffled voices that he quickly recognised. He started banging the door. But the voices only got louder. He heard her scream, pleading for help… he heard him grunt and scold her for being such a ruckus. His voice wasn’t the same, as before. It resembled the voice of an animal now… an animal that would harm anyone and everyone who came in its way. And her voice… who could ever forget that….
A chill ran down his spine. His little heart ran faster than his little feet. He banged the door, with the sole intention of breaking it down. He was not sure, what was happening inside. But something was wrong, very wrong. Akka was in pain, and he had to save her. What would chaachi say, when she returned? Soon his eyes were full of tears and he could barely make sense of anything that was happening around him. All he could remember was that his right arm and shoulder had turned sore by banging the door, so hard. But he did not stop. He was wailing now, almost in unison with the cry of his cousin. But to no avail. Something struck him, he ran out. But the neighbour’s house which was about 5 kms from his was closed. “Ammaaaaaaa…… what do I do now?”… he cried. Where was she, when you needed her the most…. He ran back. He had to do everything to stop this. He continued banging the door. He must have banged all night. The pain got to him, and his little body gave way by dawn.
When his eyes opened next, all he saw was his chaachi sitting next to him, with a hand on her head. Her eyes were red. She smiled sadly, when she saw him awake.
Where is akka?
She drowned herself in the village river… We don’t know how or why it happened…. But he told us, when we returned…
But… his eyes gave way, before he could say anything.
Sssshhhh! You are not to speak of it… we can’t change what happened, can we?... She was our daughter, but we have accepted it too… she tried comforting the child.
But he did not speak.
He went downstairs. He avoided the room, but his tears did not stop. He went to the living room and saw Chacha sit with a hand on his head. He realised that there was nothing he could tell him, which would take away the pain of this father. He looked around. He saw the man, the animal, the devil who had caused the family this. But that person now was smiling in his drunken stupor, to no one in particular. Not a trace of guilt, of the man who had played havoc with so many people’s lives. Nothing! He watched in horror, as the man stood up, walked past him to get wasted. No one said anything. He too did not speak.
The rage in his eyes, in his entire being, made it impossible for him to stand. He went to his favourite spot below the coconut tree to think. That night, he quietly sneaked out of the house with a few of his things and a picture of akka. He passed by his sleeping family members. The man was nowhere in the house. He left home, vowing never to return again. And it was a promise he had maintained for 20 years now. He knew, they would have tried to search him. It was a promise well kept, until that day, when he got a call. It must have been really long, he thought, for he did not recognise the voice at the other end….
“So ? …”
“you’re needed… please come…”
“…. I don’t know…”
He heard a click.
But they had waited. By some faith in a bond, that didn’t exist, or for lack of any alternative, they had waited. And he had come back to see this.
The memories were too taxing. Not a day had passed, in all these years, when he didn’t remember the incident in some or the other manner. But standing here, after all these years, looking at the face of the one person, who he had promised to not see was completely overwhelming. He went and sat below the coconut tree.
Unknowingly, the tears started to flow. He had not cried a single day, after that night. But now, he realised, he had no control over them, anymore. It was a cry so violent that no one could have stopped or comforted him. He cried with all his might. He cried till there were no tears left to flow, he felt that every part of his body was participating in this moment, with him. He could have carried this moment with him, for the rest of his life. He cried, even when the tears had dried, because the hatred, rage and pain still remained. It was a curse, he could not wish it away. It would always be there … taunting his existence, asking for its redemption. It was that part of his life, which he had never spoken about, the man and his action was something so shameful, he could never get himself to admit to its existence. The injustice he had been witness to… the things he should have spoken about, but did not speak. He cried.
He heard someone call his name… he looked at the body being carried away. He was needed. It was then, that he realised, that maybe; just maybe, this was his chance to obtain the closure he so desperately sought. This was the chance that he could wish those demons away. Maybe, if this was his opportunity to seek liberation from those ghosts and scars of his existence, he was more than happy to do it. Maybe, he smiled; this was his way of giving justice to akka. He walked towards them. He was ready - ready to smoulder the body of the person, who had given him this, ready to set ablaze the body of the person, whom he once would have called his “Father”.
April happens to be the "Child Abuse Awareness" Month. - FYI
April happens to be the "Child Abuse Awareness" Month. - FYI