After all, it was love
After all, it was love
Today they will visit their seventeenth therapist for the fifth time. Neena and Sukh were living in a marriage that revolved around the saying, "Love is about not giving up on each other." Actually, Neena took this quote very seriously, and Sukh was oblivious to anything around him. Last night, as Neena was crying out in frustration of being childless she heard the same scream from the bedroom.
"Do not kill her!" Sukh shouted. But this time Neena did not come to the rescue she was used to it.
"I will kill you, she has such a pretty face you demon." Sukh continued.
"No!" he continued.
Then he opened his eyes and Neena was standing in front of him.
"Do not worry we will meet Dr. Maitri tomorrow, he would have analyzed your drawings, dreams, and questionnaires by then. Go to sleep dear."
Seventeen years of their marriage, yet no children and horrendous screaming at night. Neena was all done yet she could not leave Sukh. Sukh was her childhood friend in the orphanage and was very playful as a child. Although she was sexually frustrated with his problems, yet as the years had passed, her curiosity to know what these nightmares are and why do they happen, increased. She now visits the therapist less for Sukh's benefit but more for her own curiosity's satiation.
The next day, as Dr. Maitri entered her cabin and Neena and Sukh were waiting, behind them entered Mrs. Sanjit Kripal. She was their orphanage's headmistress and male dorm's matron. The therapist had impressed Neena with her proactiveness, somehow Neena knew that the therapist would fulfill her curiosity. Her eyes got glued to the therapist's lips and she waited intently for her to say something profound. But the therapist said,
"Did you know Sukh had been a witness to the Exodus day?" she asked.
"No. He never shared that he was from Kashmir!"
"Well, he drew that day a girl wearing a hijab and a knife being pierced in her breast. Then in the background, there are coniferous trees and mountains. Also in the questionnaire, he had answered that his favorite trees are the chinar trees and his favourite season is winter. He wrote that as a child his favourite pass time was snowman making. But after that, he wrote 'with' and then canceled the name."
Neena was shocked at the epiphany, she had never bothered to ask Sukh his favourite season or his favourite pass time as a child. Nor did he show any inclination towards letting her know. No wonder their marriage had no holidays or honeymoons and had countless trips to the therapists.
Dr Maitri continued, " Please let Mrs Kripal give the additional information."
Mrs Kripal was now ninety-eight years old and had served in the orphanage of Patiala, "Amrita Care" for fifty years. Yet if you will ever ask her about any child she will know all the details. Her hairs might have turned grey, but as she sat there and rolled her grey pupils, her wrinkles twitched as if recalling this memory is not tough at all for her. She loosened her legs as she removed her chappals and that gave an indication to the therapist and Neena that the story is very long.
Neena's long neck got hooked at the lady's face and her eyesight refused to acknowledge that there exists in this world something else too.
"It was 27th January 1990, when Sukh was bought to the orphanage. Eight days after the exodus day. He was bought to us by a Sardar Ji. The man had told us that this boy's mother had worked as a house help in their house in Anantnag. But now as they left Kashmir because many Sikhs and Pandits were forced to do so. He brought him with his family because his (Sukh's) mother was murdered by the rioters. Sukh was never interested in talking to anyone and would often complain to us that he had a pain in his throat. We got him checked by the doctors and found that there was nothing physiologically wrong with him. We gradually ignored his complaint thinking that he was just a six-year-old child. And even he stopped saying it. He would often listen to Mohammad Rafi's songs and his favourite one was 'Likhe jo khat tujhe..." from the movie 'Kanyadaan'. He would listen to this song before going to bed and after getting up. He had a weird habit of eating dates with milk. Something which I found very strange, yet I allowed him to do so. It was in 11th standard when he had painted a girl's picture. It was very beautiful and he would not part with it."
"I have the picture...is it this one?" Neena showed the phone and Mrs Kripal nodded in agreement.
"Why did you keep it in your house?" Dr Maitri asked. Her usual composure of light-heartedness had tightened a bit. She had sensed something dangerous and was cautious. This had frozen Neena. "Actually, when he bought this house we decided to put up his paintings together with my dance trophies and harmonica. It was a simple decoration idea. At least I thought so."
"Let me see the painting, please."
"The girl is brown and has grey eyes, similar to the one drawn in the test. She is wearing a light pink hijab and it is the same again. Wait she has a bracelet in her hand in the test drawing, in Urdu it reads happiness. And Sukh means happiness in Hindi."
Neena's fair face turned pale and Sukh showed a bit more concern. For the first time, he showed an expression. His eyes looked at the therapist and expressed as if they had hit the right target. His smile was gleeful when he saw the photograph but they got narrowed down in pain when Neena looked at him.
"Soraya!" Neena blurted out the name. She had heard this name many times during Sukh's nightly screams.
"Could you please describe the nightmares to us?" the therapist was concerned yet stable. Probably because he had already gauged what the story could be.
"There is a girl and a Sikh man murders her while she is on the shikhara. I am watching her from the shore and I want to save her, yet I am unable to do so."
"How does the girl look?"
"Just the way I have drawn her. But in my painting she is happy. I purposefully drew a happy face of hers because in my nightmares she is always crying and pleading for help. While the man pierces a knife into her breasts and rapes her. The man looks exactly as I have drawn in the test."
Dr. Maitri shows the man's photo to Mrs. Kirpal, "Is he the same man who brought him to the orphanage?"
Mrs. Kirpal's eyes widened in shock. They were in agreement, yet could not believe at the turn of events.
"He would often tell me when we were not married, that he would like to have his first kiss on a shikhara and in the months of winter. At that time I thought he was fascinated by the song from Amitabh Bachchan sir's movie The Great Gambler. But he might be..."
"He lost a lover, his mother, and was raped probably in those days." Dr. Maitri continued.
"His nightmares show more than what he says. They are the traces of those terrors inflicted on him."
"Probably, he needs to just learn how to live with it. After all, it was love which he lost, a human feeling, at the hands of a devil."