I got up with a scream, drenched in sweat, only to realise that I was having the nightmare again. Oh God, why can’t I let it go? I am divorced and living on my own, then what is so fascinating about my past that it keeps me chained? Why does he has to haunt me? Why can’t he let me live in peace?
Prabal turned and hugged me bringing me back to the reality. The warmth of a 4 year old wrapped around me brought me peace and solace. One look at his blissful face and my morning was already better. I kissed him good morning and started my morning chores as it would take me more than 2 hours to finish with one hand.
It was already way past ten when I reached the office after dropping Prabal at the school. I always thought I was lucky that he liked his school and didn’t mind staying back at the day care.
My work station in the office is in one corner and there is no distraction. I could easily focus on my work. And right now I need all the peace because only two days are left for my first project’s presentation. I had to fight and convince a lot of people for the project. Being in this corner cuts me from the office and helps me in avoiding breaks. I sometimes skip lunch break also and today was no different. Any break pushes me back by atleast 20-30 min as I take more time than anyone else to type.
Mr Verma was standing at the other hand and looking at Sidhi. He has been pleasantly surprised at her efficiency inspite of her handicap. She has climbed up the ladder quite well in last few years and he was thinking of promoting her again. He went over to her and tried looking at the presentation.
I held my breath because I knew I was being judged. My handicap was being judged. After a few minutes he suggested few changes and left without saying much. That in itself was an accomplishment. I knew he was not a man of fewer words when it came to disapproving things.
The whole day went in a jiffy, and it was already 7pm. I packed my bag and headed for the station. After reaching there I tried to locate Jaya, my guardian angel who has been there to support me daily since she met me few months back. Why is she not at her regular spot? I was a little worried; she has not been herself lately. Looking around I saw her sitting on the corner bench gaping at the floor. I went over there and she jolted back to reality. This was enough; I had to know what was wrong.
But first I called my parents and asked them to pick up Prabal because I was sure I would be late. Then I sat next to Jaya and asked her what was wrong. After a lot of coercing she told me she was going through a lot of trauma since her divorce. She is currently staying at her brother’s place who has asked her to move out.
I wanted to tell her that she has to be brave and strive for independence. But I knew easier said than done. Hence I decided to share my story with her. I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier inspite of her asking me so many times. May be it was predestined to help her in the hour of need.
Jaya sat there looking at Sidhi. She was shivering and crying. How could someone go through so much pain, survive and be happy?
Sidhi just told her how she met Ankush her ex-husband. How they dated for few months and had got married in a jiffy against Sidhi’s parents’ wishes. She moved in with Ankush and his parents and immediately the tortures started. She soon realised being conservative was not a fad, it was a part of who Ankush was. His parents asked her to quit studies but she didn’t. May be this irked them most.
Conditions were set for studies. She had to do all the work, wear a Sari, even to college; and travel only with Ankush. Sidhi had done all this. Even after she had conceived, nothing had changed. When she was in her first trimester, she couldn't get into the train with Ankush while coming back from the college and had to wait for the next half an hour for a train. When she had reached home all hell broke loose. Ankush had pounced on her like a wild animal. No one had stopped him; in fact, his parents had encouraged him and finally they had kicked her out of the house
By the time Sidhi had reached her parents’ house, she had been barely conscious. That was enough for her parents to know what had happened. A police complaint was launched immediately and Ankush’s parents were arrested the next day. But police had not been able to get hold of Ankush. Simultaneously Sidhi had filed for a divorce while still in shock. She had also been hospitalised for few days as there was a risk to her pregnancy following the brutal beating. Looking at her condition, the Judge had accepted the divorce petition. Within few months, she was divorced. She was finally accepting what had happened to her and was trying to get back to normal life..
During her last trimester on her parent's insistence she joined back the college. But despite her dad’s resistance she preferred to travel alone. It would give her time to think, time to digest what had happened and time to plan for the future. On that fateful day she was coming back from the college.
When she was getting in the train, when she had caught a glimpse of Ankush but thinking that it was her stupid imagination, she had boarded the empty compartment. She had been sitting with eyes closed and out of the blue, she had felt a strong hold on her shoulders. Ankush had caught hold of her and was violently yelling “How dare you do something like this? My parents went to jail because of you.
Sidhi had tried her best to get away and had even started shouting for help. Hearing her shouts, people from the adjoining compartment had started yelling at Ankush to let her go. However, he hadn't stopped. He inflicted slaps after slaps after slaps with one final push he had thrown her out of the running train.
When she got up she was in the ICU. The passengers pulled the chain and called the police who caught Ankush and found her besides the track. She lost her right hand and Prabal was born through an emergency surgery.
For the next few months, Sidhi had to stay at hospital, which gave her a lot of time to think. It had all finally sunk in and she had promised herself that she would never cry. She had decided to build a strong future for herself and her son.
Life after coming home was tough but adversity had made her strong. She had become prepared for everything to come. It had not been easy for her to carry and care for her baby with one hand but she had learned . She had changed. Every problem had a solution. Combing her long hair was difficult, she got short crops. Cooking was difficult, she practised earnestly. She had even learned to roll Roti with one hand, she would just put her left hand on middle of the rolling pin and practice for hours. And finally she had also managed to graduate next year.
Prabal was already more than a year by the time she had managed to get a job. It was time to be independent. Since then she had been managing everything on her own. Against all odds she was doing very well and was successful in her field. The scars are still there but more as a lesson than a reminder of bitter past.
Jaya was crying and thinking; if Sidhi can bear all this and still be successful and happy, why can’t I? I only went through a fraction of it. It was a bitter divorce but nothing even close to what Sidhi went through.
Sidhi’s voice brought her back to reality. “Jaya I am asking you to let go of the past. Are you listening to me at all? And please stop looking at me like I am a ghost and promise me you will complete your studies and will get back on your feet”
Jaya hugged her tightly and said; “Yes Sidhi I promise. I will try to follow your footsteps, thank you so much for showing me the mirror”.
Sidhi hugged her back and said “I am glad that you understood and you are ready to take your life in your own hands.
Her story was helping someone, just this thought made Sidhi free, like all the burden has been lifted from her shoulders. May be it was time for her also to let go and be completely free.
This was a story about courage and determination. A tale about how a strong willed person can survive and be successful even in adversities.
This story is inspired from someone very close to me. The names and some incidents have been changed to protect the identities.