Tuesday 1 September 2015

Short Story 2015, Shortlist Ashitta Kakkar

One Day Changed It All

“I choose YOU!” he said emphatically and I froze. Those dreams are flushed now. How will I fight this man? How will I fight everyone outside?
I was so happy on my graduation day that I’ll finally make my mom proud of myself. She was so happy that I’ll be one of those elites. She hugged and kissed me when I told her my last exam also went well and I am sure I’ll qualify. She was even happier when I showed her my joining letter. I get it now why my feeble mother was low-spirited to see it was dated for 6 months later. I thought she was sad that I’ll start earning late. But I get the real reason now. How dumb could I be? How couldn’t I understand mummy’s feelings then when I had never ever failed in this before? She feared this!!!
She feared I’ll be here for 6 months with her and was horrified that I’ll be mistaken as others and picked by someone. She didn’t want my fate to be like hers’. She didn’t want my innocence should lose before time like she was forced to give up. She didn’t want me to be paid for nights like she was. She didn’t want me to spend my life in darkness where she burnt the midnight oil, literally. She wanted me to be away, away from this doomed world. She wanted me to be famous and not defamed. She wanted me earn good but respectfully. She wanted me to be happy in and out. But I was so stupid wanting to be in her laps, to have her by my side, to eat whatever she made, to listen to her tragic story and console her that I forgot to look at this darker side.

She always told me how she wanted to run away from this place. How she had been trapped here by that fiendish lady who always thought I was mom’s brother’s daughter. She was beaten back to her room if found trying to escape or should I say whenever (and always) found escaping. She used to be tied to her bed for weeks. Her arms would bleed because of those chains but those people were sadists. She cried for days and weeks but then slowly she started accepting that this hellish place was her fate until I came to her life (hopefully).

While I was articulating how to run away from this hideous place that big man was talking to that lady how he wanted me to be his guest in today’s party. Where was my mom? Couldn’t she stop all this? I wanted her to fight with these two villains of my life, I wanted her to take me in her room like she always did whenever I came here to visit her and comfort me with her mellifluous voice. But she was nowhere to be seen. What was up with her? She wasn’t allowed to have clients with her aging beauty but nevertheless she was the most loved singer here. But I couldn’t even hear her voice which means she isn’t within these boundaries. Where is she? But how does it matter? Even if she was here her trembling legs and shivering voice would not make an impact on these rowdy people. I reminisce how she used to cry in loud sobs while narrating her sad story to me.

She was only 11 when she was out of her hometown to find her supposedly real home. She left on this hunt because her elder brother used to rag her that she had been adopted and her real parents lived far far away. Her innocence (stupidity as you will call) landed her in this polar world. She was fooled into this place and made to play with beautiful dolls for a few months or years (she does not know for how long she was trapped in that unimaginably beautiful doll room). And months (or years) later she was made to face the reality of that place. She was made to sing for older men. And then after a few years sent with men to entertain them for the nights (I wonder how strong is she to tell me all of this). Years passed and she was forced to abort many children. Only until a noble man helped her give me birth (was he my father? Silence was what she answered with each time). He asked the mistress to have mummy for 1 complete year. This is how she kept the secret of me being her daughter.

“Today you’ll be going with this man” the pompous mistress howled. I.. I… I….
I won’t go. I cannot go. This world was a quagmire and I could not let myself be trapped in it. I could not let this happen to me. I had to deny. But how? Why was I not able to utter something? Utter anything? Where did all those rehearsed speeches go? I knew exactly what to say only if I could. The only reflex that responded was to run around to find mommy (only without calling out “mummy” instead to cry out “aunty”). My brain was active and so were my legs and eyes. My eyes were searching for her, my legs running out to her, my brain calculating as to where possibly she could be. I asked about her whereabouts from a few familiar faces only to be dejected by all. No living person here knew where she was. It was a perfect plot for. I was pitched in. This was all planned. My legs were catching up speed and so were my rolling tears. I did not want to go with that beast and I could not find maa. Was she alright? I hope they didn’t do anything to her.

All my senses had stopped responding. But I suddenly came to a halt. Someone was holding my arm firmly. My blurred vision and vaguely active brain directed me that it was mom. My lips were about to curl when my ears told me she was the mistress. She was screaming. Oh wait! She was actually shouting at me. She wanted me to be locked in one room until this party came up. Was she grounding me? How dare she? She was nobody to do any such thing to me! Her orders will not be my command. I will not obey her. I am not bound to and I will not.

Ohh but wait! “Where is my aunt?” I commanded looking into her eye. “You will show me the way to her locale. NOW!!!” She was taken aback with the fury in my voice (so was I but I am glad I took a stand for atleast something). She did try to speak something but I cut her in, “NOW!!!!!!!”
She made walk through a shitty smelling corridor that ended at an ancient type of a door. Was she here? But why? Did this villainous woman lock her here? Or was she made to please some client? But she wasn’t doing anything else than singing nowadays and I could not hear her voice. Which means she is locked here. Why? What does this lady want from maa now? After all these years of slavery what more does she need? Me? Was this loathsome woman thinking she would get me to work for her? Ohh no! She has planned it all. What if she locks me in this room with mummy? What if she has done something bad to her? Or she blackmails me? Or tricks me into this life? No! I have been taught a lot by mother. She has made me rehearse for these situations over and over again. I did fail her by not saying that speech in her face but now I’ll think of something to get myself out of this mess.

While that gross lady was unlocking the door, my mind was articulating my way to flee.
“Maaaa” I exclaimed in joy on seeing her hale and hearty. We hugged. She kissed me all over.
It suddenly ticked my mind. I had said maa in front of her. She now knew I was her daughter. In a snap I turned to look at her. She had a frightful outrage in her eyes. She felt betrayed. She was ferocious. She turned around and locked me too. Shit! I had ruined everything. Since eighteen long years I have been calling her aunt and now this stupid excitement ruined it all. I am stuck here. 

Mummy looked at me with teary eyes. I explained everything to her. And in no time she placed a chair just beneath a small window. She signaled me to run away through this small tiny vent. I geared myself up to help myself. We said our final goodbyes and vowed not to meet again. Maa pushed me away and signaled me to leave. I put my right foot on the chair and left hand on the window and started the struggle to push myself out. I was doubtful if my plump body will be able to go past that window. I had put on so much weight. Maa had been so pampering in these 3 months. Why wasn’t I with her all the while? Wait! I won’t be meeting her again!!!!!! All the love I have received until now will be all I’ll ever have from her.
No! I am not going anywhere. I cannot leave like this. I am not going anywhere without mummy. I will run away taking mommy along. I won’t betray her. She will be with me ALWAYS. I will take her away with me. She can live a life she wants. I WILL live a life I want! We will lead a happy life that we want!

I got down. I held her hand and asked her to get out first. She was perplexed.
“Maa, you are going with me. We both are running away from here to a normal world. You ARE coming with me!”
Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She hugged me but did not say a word. She got off the window first (and easily because of her lean frame) followed by me (with much difficulty).
I had the money to buy tickets to Bangalore. We stayed with my friends for a week or so. And I found myself a job until my company called me.
Cut to today. Maa is cuddling with her granddaughter, Ambika whom we named after my grandmother to let maa live her old life. That filthy place is closed now and the mistress is behind the bars, thanks to our duo (obviously of my mom and me). And me? I am happy with my small cute family.

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