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Sujata Dash

Abstract


3  

Sujata Dash

Abstract


Fluid Boundaries

Fluid Boundaries

8 mins 195 8 mins 195

Wiping her precious tears Samma tried to control her sobs. what she told made both Minu and Madhuri weak in the knees and they kept gaping at her in utter disbelief.

"I am a widow. My in-laws were forcing me to marry my brother in law after sudden demise, my husband. I was aghast that instead of consoling me after the tragic episode, they were wanting me to enter wedlock again. I fled their place one night with the help of my mother in law, who supported me despite the threat from the head of the family. She could empathize with my state of being".

  Her words were laced with intermittent sobs.

"I came to my parents' place catching the earliest mode of transport, but they refused to accept me. My in-laws were moneyed people, had a good rapport with both netas and babus and had spelled "fatwa". So, instead of protecting me, they expressed their inability to be of help to me. I had to be shunted out of my father's place by my jobless brother and my parents remained moot spectators as they are very old. It was my friend Sabba, who gave me shelter, supported me unconditionally. She helped me to complete my studies and take up a job for livelihood."

  "All these years, I have been hiding the truth, almost jealously guarding it against the public, as I have the fear that it may tarnish my image and lessen my chances to elicit good avenues."-She spoke in one breath.

  "I am very unhappy and sad today as I was not granted leave to attend the betrothal ceremony of Sabba. I had promised to be there and decorate her hands with Mehendi. I do not want to continue with the job anymore"...she sobbed bitterly and gasped for breath.

 Madhuri was quick to pick a glass of water, made Samma drink some and tried to arrange her unkempt mane. As she fondly wiped Samma's tear with her kerchief, she burst into a fit of laughter impulsively, followed by weeping and it appeared as if she was possessed.

 "Samma dear! You are not alone in this sojourn of sorrow and dismay. I have a similar story to tell. We all here are perhaps chosen by the Supreme as we share more or less the same predicament. Happiness for us is marginal and occasional in the sprawling drama of pain and sorrow."


"My platter has always less. For me, it is always ill luck in abundance. Chance eludes me every now and then and I do not have any inkling as to when the sun will rise again".

 "I have been putting brave front all the time as I do not want to incur pity, that would certainly affect my self-esteem. I have always been a private person and till my last breath want to remain so."

"I came to Mumbai, precisely three years ago to attend a job interview. Coming from Amaravati, Mumbai was a big city for me. It was my first stepping out of home-my comfort zone. I was very scared and nervous. Our neighbor's son Prateek, who happens to be my classmate accompanied me as he too was appearing for the same job selection. I was brilliant academically, so I could secure a berth and he could not. He decided not to go back but try something other than the routine nine to five job. Initial days for him were difficult to manage, with absolutely no source of income and no one in the unfamiliar place to fall back upon. I had to support him with my meager salary as we had developed a fondness for each other. I had kept fasts for his well being, prayed to God for his well being. Finally, my prayers were answered. He got his first modeling assignment. He came running and virtually pulled me off from my seat dragged me to the nearby cafeteria, hugged me and nearly stuffed my mouth with raspberry flavored pie, knowing well I would be delighted. He was breathless with excitement and poured his heart out-"Madhuri! I owe my success to you. You have supported me unconditionally. I would not have been what I am today had you not been kind. We need to celebrate now. Invite a few of your close friends too. I shall spring a surprise on you that day. Do not ask me right now, what it is?"The big party happened. I had a few friends from my side. He had the cast and crew of his to be launched serial. After the cake cutting, he announced my name and urged me to be by his side, which I followed. He took out a ring, went on his knees and my finger ring wore a dazzling look. My demure being wanting to say so much, could not utter even a line."This was the surprise janu, I am ecstatic today"... he spoke amidst applauds. I nodded in affirmation."As he rose the rung of success, he became busier. Frequent, long calls were replaced by short formal ones. When I inquired, I got the same answer-I am busy...I am shooting...I am with the producer, etc"."I decided to visit his house one day but did not disclose it to him. I wore a decent saree, carried his favorite snacks and carried fresh yellow roses for him. My spirits soared and my mind sped faster than the taxi. A screeching halt near his apartment brought me to senses. I adjusted my pallu and carried all the stuff that I had brought. I was about to enter the lift when the watchman asked me -who I wanted to meet?"


"When I told him, I want to go to the third floor to meet Prateek, he seemed to be confused". "Madam! Sir has shifted for a week." 

"It was a bolt from the blue. I quickly made an exit from the sight. It really felt strange that he did not even bother to inform. His mobile was out of range, my attempts to elicit reason did not yield result. I was dejected, felt deceived and my pace slowed down. Upon reaching the main road, I found a huge poster showing Prateek holding the female lead of the show in a fond embrace. Both looked great in glittering ensembles. I stood there like a log of wood staring at the display of promo in bewilderment. For how long I do not know. I hired a taxi as soon as I got back to senses and straightaway headed for bed to cuddle my favorite pillow and wept bitterly all night." "I did not mind being cheated, but the repercussions it had on my psyche made my belief system crumble down. To me, this was the worst thing and it took its toll. It took me nearly six months to come out of the ordeal. I made a promise to myself, not to trust men again."

Minu stared at these two brave hearts and sobbed bitterly.

"We have been staying together for one year and we have not opened up till now...how strange!"

"Samma, Madhuri di! I really do not know how to console you both. My ordeal is nothing in comparison to what you all have been through. Is it imperative to belong to the world of sorrow and suffering if you are a woman?"

"There has not been a single day when I do not throw this question at myself. I plead before God to provide an answer".

There was complete silence now.


Madhuri slowly got up from the couch, sat near Minu, took her palms in her hands and looked into her eyes before saying anything.

"Can't believe this Minu, You too have been subjected to travesty of justice? You are so tender dear, how can one not be fair to you?"

"Yes, Di! I have been a victim of the so-called casting couch. This is my third job in a row within a span of twelve months. I do not know how long my present one will last... I smell something fishy here too. My boss has proposed my name for promotion when there are so many senior and competent people. He would call me to his cabin at the slightest pretext. He orders my favorite food and forces me to have lunch with him. I feel so awkward. I take a plea to avoid him whenever it is possible, but he comes from nowhere. He is so senior, almost of my papa's age, and see how he is bent upon outraging modesty".

"And you know what, he always says-You are like my daughter...then why does he touch me inappropriately? These men ..they will not be. I want to resign stating this reason, but, before that, I must find a suitable alternative. I have to send money for monthly expenses at home as you know. I am keeping mum for this reason".

"Di! Is it a sin to stand on own feet? Is it not in good taste that women should be financially independent? Then, why men behave like a leech? Why they make us soft targets? When will this end Samma? When?"

Minu cried bitterly.


It was past midnight. They were still on the terrace. The food and drinks they had ordered were not even half consumed.

"Samma! please heat food in the oven, I am pouring drinks. Please do bring the ice-bucket..let us celebrate the quaint evening, which has been very unpredictable and has unfolded our private lives to a great extent."-Madhuri said.

"What is there to celebrate di! we all have been wronged in our lives and have been punished for no fault of ours."

"No Minu, you are wrong, we shall celebrate our victory, our triumph for braving oddities of life, not retracting the next step, knowing well it is insecure and filled with obscurity, having not been swayed by waves of negative vibes and above all having been relentless and remaining undaunted. We have the courage to live life."

"Now take a tissue, wipe out that purgative fluid, be ready to shake a leg. Samma is coming perhaps.Enjoy the food. We all shall raise a toast to the woman in us. Let the party go non-stop...till darkness gets swallowed up by the rising sun."

 


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