This post onwards, “mom” would only be mentioned as a part of my memory. I had lost her forever. With her leaving me; I had as if grown up in fortnight. Quite Literally. The power to “judge” was bestowed upon me, so hard. I had begun to exercise my opinion; not on others, but to retrospect.
31st July, 96- 13th October, 96
Uncle had hurriedly gotten married after I had refused to settle down with him. I had refused to and not traveled to Agra. That’s where his wedding had taken place. My mom had passed away only a few months back. I couldn’t come to terms with celebrating an in- house marriage function. I had not stepped out even at the “aashirwad” ceremony. When the relatives had come over along with the bride; they were so surprised to see a young girl moving around the house.. They weren’t told anything at all about me and mom. I had sniffed trouble since then itself.
Things had started to deteriorate.
They had gone to Mount Abu for their Honeymoon. I had stayed alone at home. Shipra mami had bought an imitation jewelery set as a souvenir. Only after a day of their return, uncle had declared that his wrist- watch was missing. My mom had bought that some 20 years back and presented him as a Gift. Till a day before their coming back, I had seen that watch sitting at his bed, next to his pillow. Shipra mami had added that perhaps, I had sold that for money!
She would spy around my room when I would be gone to my college. She would use my set of cosmetics and move around. She would dab herself clean just before uncle were to step in. Anytime I would try to ask her; she would create a huge ruckus. Obviously, to her advantage.
Soon thereafter one day, she had wanted to talk to me. She had wanted me to show her my Drawing portfolio. I had, gladly. Little did I know that that was not as sweet a gesture as I was taking that to be. After going though a couple of those, she had wanted to know how much the colors cost. She had also wanted to know who funded for those. Her queries had surprised me no end. Was she ignorant? I had remained silent.
She had announced that soon things would change.
Change, they did. I used to remain locked up in my bedroom. I was not to step out even once. There used to be no food for me in the afternoon. Not that I had expected any. But definitely, didn’t expect her to make me starve either. I wasn’t even supposed to warm and eat the last night’s leftover from the fridge as well.
The Polytechnic didn’t have any college canteen. Only a Tikkivala used to be at the gate. On most of the days, a Chhole- kulcha uncle used to travel on his cycle. That had become my staple for the next 1 year. I didn’t drink milk. Can’t digest. I was given a glass of milk at 8.00, and a cup of tea with 2 bread slices. The next meal used to be at 2.00pm. No dinner most of the times. And whenever it was; it used to be a tip- toed walk to kitchen and Maggi after the old couple locked themselves in their bedroom.
He would powder himself (!#$@#$@); often knock at my door and disappear. I would then after 5 minutes, peep outside my bedroom door, cross the living room and sneak into the kitchen next to his bedroom. Without switching on lights, I would prepare Maggi and or take another glass of milk and vanish. I was 18. I needed more than a glass of milk.
Years back, I had asked mom not to slog herself over my breakfast early morning. In continuation, I had again begun to starve. This is how I can survive without food for a long time. A trait that had come in very very handy in a short while from then. I have spent more than 24 hours without eating my meals. I didn’t have enough money.
Now that I have enough, my metabolism has gone for a toss..
It was decided that I would be given no pocket money; instead, ask for 30 bucks everyday. That was the amount that was spent on commuting from Patparganj to Lajpat Nagar- IV. The cost of the STs was calculated. That amount also was included. Apart from that, no other allowance was given.
I had become a convict in my own house. For each and every Drawing sheet that I bought; I was made to give the details of the expenses. I was not to sit anywhere in the Living Room at any point of time. One time that her brother had visited our place; I was treated royally. I was served dinner at the Dining Table and separately. He wanted to understand why I remained so upset. I had spoken about none.
I was in touch with Ruby and Sudipa on phone. Often I would call them and cry. I had hunted down Himanshu as well again. I had tried one more time to check if he still remembered me. He did. We may have spoken a couple of times over the phone. One day, he had made me speak with one of his friends; someone who I didn’t know personally. He had wanted to be “friends” with me. I had taken offence.
It was “we” who were to become “friends”- if at all. I had wanted to share my “problems” with him. I had not expected any help since he was my age. He was also a student and not independent or employed. How could he have helped me? Yet, he could not offer any level of comfort and “we” had drifted away again.
My masi was called at my place one evening. I was sternly instructed to stay inside my bedroom. Both Uncle and aunty had embarrassed masi no end. They wanted to get rid of me. They had wanted masi to take me along with. She had refused to. She had left crying and sobbing. I was asked to witness how “caring” my masi was. No comments.
Uncle and I were a family. If he couldn’t care enough for me; how could I have expected any from who had not extended some to her own sister- my mom.
The guy who had helped me spent my night the other day, had come to my rescue. If only it was that.
The day he had negotiated his “terms” with me, in return of looking for a place for me; Himanshu had called up. He had wanted to talk to me. I could feel he was somewhat embarrassed about our last conversation. He had wanted to talk to me becoming the friends that we were- once upon a time.
I could not speak- a word. I had coldly asked him not to call up anymore. I had tried to tell him that I was to leave soon and that I didn’t know where to go. He had known about mom. He had kept asking as to what had happened. How could I have told him that I was to leave that house, only to stay with another guy. How was I to tell him that I had only agreed upon his “terms” and that I had no other option. I didn’t know where to go, whom to approach.
I couldn’t as much as sob when he had called up. That Blotch was sat right across me summing up his “terms”. I had acted so mechanically figuring out what to do that I had not cried even later. I had felt a heart numbing pain- that’s all. I have cried now, while writing this portion. I was in my late teens. Both of us had grown up. That was the time when we could have dated. Or even expressed our feelings for each other. I still felt for him. It seemed; so did he.
I have sobbed and felt sorry.
The groundfloor neighbor had been my savior. She had regularly kept me updated about what Saha, Khatri, Samanta and her father conspired about. About asking me to leave. Once and for all.
The evening I was asked to leave apparently; Reema had already informed about that too. She had come upstairs, stood at the staircase and talked to me. She had cried holding me and asked if I had any place to go out and stay. I would not know if that was staged; given the fact that my very relatives and parents have been the biggest deceits. Yet, I would always stay thankful for it was she who had prepared me in advance.
I was given time till 25th September, 96 to leave the house. I had pleaded for another 10 days. Reluctantly Shipra had agreed to.
9th October, 1996
I often used to go to masi’s place to stay. That weekend too, I had. I had packed my clothes for 2 days, colors and sheets etc. As I was about to step out, I was asked to sit on the sofa, beside her. Shipra had again wanted to talk to me. She had inquired as to when I was leaving. I had no answer.
She had wanted to stay in the whole of the house. One bedroom and Living Room was suffocating her. She had wanted to receive guests. There was no room for her relatives to stay in. She was bothered about why her husband was to spend on my food and education. At the most, she could stand as a guardian and marry me off. Once married; I was never to go back. Ask for anything else. The relationship would end.
I had not known where to go. I had tried to delay that for as long as possible. I had calculated what it would have resulted in, if I were to stay with a guy who was un- employed, un- educated and a loafer. I had sat lost in my thoughts about the next course of action. She shook me hard. To get me back to present.
I was asked to not comeback after leaving that evening.