Paap...7 mins 394 7 mins 394
Seven days Ago...
"Mom I'm leaving alright? It's my first day at work and I don't want to be late, just in case they tag me as a lazy bum", Sita shouted on top of her voice, in an attempt to inform her mother who was in the backyard, scanning the kitchen garden for signs of fresh carrots.
"There is a dabba on the table. Take that. I've filled it with Jhal Muri. Have it. Okay?", her mother shouted back.
In a haste, Sita ran down the gate to the bus stop, and stood there, adjusting her dupatta before catching the bus.
Once the bus arrived, she got up and took a seat on the left. Nervous as well as excited, she kept on thinking about how her first day would turn out. Suddenly, she noticed the woman seated beside her, on the window side. She was frantically rubbing her palms and sweating. Out of the corner of her eye, Sita looked up into the woman's face. She was exquisitely beautiful.
With a light powdered blue dupatta and a floral printed cotton salwar suit, she had her wavy hairs tied in a ponytail, with loose ends peeking out from the back of her ears. She wore a long pair of jhumkas, with the symbol of peacocks embedded in it. Both her hands were filled with light blue bangles. As beautiful as she was, she wasn't at ease. Something haunted that beautifully porcelain-skinned face of hers. Unable to hide her curiosity, Sita spoke up.
"Are you okay? I am sorry but I could see you were quite tense. If there is anything I can do, please tell me".
Turning towards Sita, the girl blinked her moist eyelashes with awe and looked at her. Perhaps a nudge was all she needed so long.
After a few seconds, she spoke.
"I'm Pavitra. Funny name ain't it? Well the name, and what you are about to hear, are two opposite poles of a story. Do you really want to know why I'm anxious?", the girl asked.
"The office I'm going to is another 45 minutes away. Go on, I have ample time. Tell me your story", Sita replied.
Pavitra was from a well-to-do family. No, wait. I'm being modest. She was the daughter of the Head Pandit of RamNarayanpur. Her family was one of the most respected in the entire town. And her mother? Well, she had been the daughter of the ex MLA of the town. All her life, Pavitra had wanted for nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Until she met Manpreet.
Completing her graduation, Pavitra wanted to pursue her future career outside town, in the infamous Indrapur University. After a lot of persuasions, finally, her parents allowed her to leave.
It was a world of its own. There was absolutely nothing one can not find here. With over 60 courses and more than 100 faculty members, this university was a place where politics originated and rested, where new talents bloomed and finally, dreams got lost in the pomp and show.
Pavitra had first met Manpreet on the lawn behind the basketball field. She was seated with her back towards the pine trees and facing the basketball ground. Her classes had just begun for a week, and she had a lot to catch up to what was being taught.
And then, all of a sudden, the ball hit her hard on the thighs.
A shadow loomed over her. Looking up, her eyes met with Manpreet Randhawa, the ace basketball player of Indrapur, looking down at her, with a sweaty, baggy T-shirt and smiling.
"Sorry! Pass the ball please?".
Everything about Manpreet was normal, and in a normal way, they shouldn't have been anything but just friends. But that's not what happened.
And so, that is how the famous couple of IU, Pavitra and Manpreet, had begun their story of love.
Three months went by. Pavitra and Manpreet were both deeply involved with one another. The only question was, how are they going to take this further into their future?
It says that bad news travels fast. And if it's worse, then it travels even faster. Another two months later, Pavitra's parents had come to know of her relationship with Manpreet. Being a part of such headstrong and orthodox rules all their lives, both her father and mother called her home to talk about this.
"So I came from the University yesterday and stayed at my cousin's place for the night. The worry you see, its not anything else. Its the fact that I'm sure my family would not accept my relationship. But the much scarier question is, what are they going to do about it", Pavitra looked in anxiety towards Sita.
"Its fine dear. Just remember one thing. Never let go. They might hurt you, but they can't break you. They are your parents. In the end, they'll embrace you. Anyway, it was nice meeting you Pavitra. Give me your address and phone number. I'll drop by someday this weekend", Sita replied.
One day ago...
Knocking on the big four bolted door of the old fashioned house, Sita waited on the verandah. She was at the address given by Pavitra. The whole week, the curiosity of what might have happened between Pavitra and her parents, regarding her boyfriend Manpreet, had been eating away Sita's mind, both at the office and at home.
The door jolted and creaked. Jumping back to the present, Sita looked up.
A bald, roughly built man stood there, with a saffron dhoti around hid waist and below; and a janeuv (sacred thread) around his upper thorax in a diagonal manner. With strict fiery eyes, he spoke up.
"Anything important? Today there will be no offerings by me. Pritamji is there. He will aid you".
So this was Pavitra's father. Hmm.
"Oh no no Panditji. I haven't come to offer anything. I am Pavitra's friend. You can say her Sita is here. She'll know", Sita replied.
Hearing Pavitra's name, the face of the Pandit turned red. Closing one part of the door already, he blared at Sita,
"That girl shouldn't have any friends. She took down our name to a level, that even our enemies wouldn't wish upon us. We feel ashamed to have a child like her".
"But Uncle, Manpreet is a good guy. Or else why would Pavitra, a girl from such righteous roots, agree to be with him? Be reasonable Uncle", Sita urged him to understand, stopping the door from getting closed.
With a huge bellowing laughter, Pavitra's father opened the door.
"Come on then, meet Manpreet yourself. If you still feel Pavitra has a good choice, we will have a talk".
Following him inside through a series of doors, Sita came into a clearing behind the house.
There was Pavitra.
Seated in a short-statured stool, she was in a devastated state. Hairs roughed up and pulled out, she was dressed in a salwar so crippled up that God knows how long she was seated like that.
Beside her, was her mother, almost in tears. And with them, was another beautiful girl, perhaps the cousin with whom she had stayed...
"Meet your friend's lover, Manpreet", saying so the Pandit grabbed the hairs of that girl and pulled her forward.
Everything had suddenly dawned on Sita.
Pavitra was in a homosexual relationship.
She now realised that all the while when Pavitra was narrating the story, there was no mention of the details of Manpreet. And now she knew why.
Dragging Pavitra out of the house, the group of Pandits pushed her towards the road that led to the ghats. Pavitra's parents had stripped her naked and burnt down all her clothes. She was a sinner, the ultimate sinner. And Manpreet? Well, she was forcibly married off to one of the junior Pujaris in the temple.
Naked, cold and barren, Pavitra walked slowly towards the Ghats. It was her judgment day. All the people in town had gathered to curse her from going against God and residing in evil.
Stepping foot in the water, she shivered. It was cold. But there was no escaping. One step ahead of another, she went neck-deep into the water.
The sin-shredding ceremony had begun.
The long locks of hair slapped hard on her wet skin. With slow breaths and quivering lips, she gasped for air. Tears got lost in the huge laps of water. The pandit remained unwavering, still continuing the purifying chant.
She had to atone for her sins. The crowd started throwing stones and pebbles at her. Getting hurt on her head numerous times, she looked into her parent's eyes and begged for mercy. All they did was look away.
After about two hours, when everything around her was weighing her down and all vision turned blurry, she felt something heavy around her neck.
A rock was being tied to her body, with her hands and feet bound together.
Realising what was happening, she struggled to get free, but in vain. After splashing in the water for some time and gasping for air, Pavitra drowned.
Honour-killing had won over Constitutional rights, once again.