THE ANONYMOUS WELL-WISHER
The bright orange colour of Kalpana’s hennaed hands had not yet paled
completely , when she had scars on her cheeks and body. Rajiv did not need a rhyme or a reason for inflicting pain on her. He found fault with her cooking and housekeeping. At the breakfast table, he complained that the rava dosa was not crisp enough and at dinner the sambhar was less spicy. His shirt was not ironed properly or his socks were missing. Her mother had imparted lessons in domestic work and trained her well in culinary art but Rajiv’s fault findings made her a nervous wreck. She would always be tensed in his presence as when the next blow would bruise her mind, body and spirit.
Her neighbor, Hazel, had noticed her black eye but Kalpana managed to wrap a stole around her face.
Kalpana bore the brunt of violence without a murmur. She was conditioned by the females of her maiden house that the true place of a married woman was besides her husband. She had accepted her fate. When her husband was away she would paint in her leisure time. This hobby of hers, learnt in school days, stood in good stead. She could vent out her frustrations and ire on the white blank canvas. The colours used by her were predominantly black and red. The lifeless canvas was a mute testimony of her turmoil inside her, bringing alive the paintings that were a reflection of her bleak today and an uncertain future.
Rajiv had a 10 day training programme at his Head Office in another city. She was happy about this new development. She could spend the next 10 days without being beaten and bruised.
As usual she was busy with the brush in the afternoon when the door bell rang. Putting aside the painting paraphernalia, she went to answer the door. There was no one at the door. Confused, she thought that it was a figment of her imagination when she looked down, her eyes fell on a piece of paper lying at the side. She picked it up.
“No-body is going to serve you respect on a platter. Learn to earn it.” was boldly printed on it. Two telephone numbers were printed alongside.
It was signed off by an anonymous well wisher.
She decided to take matters into her own hands.
Rajiv came back from his training programme. She served him dinner. “There is no salt in the curry”, he yelled at her.
“You can add salt to the curry” she answered politely.
Taken aback by this retort, he got up and raised his hand on her.
She sprung up in anticipation and caught hold of his wrist in mid-air and yanked it down. His arm hurt.
This was not his meek wife, Kalpana, he thought. How dare she defy him. He was surprised at her calmness.
Before he could gather himself, she said, “Your unmanly behaviour will make you land at the Women‘s Cell of the police-station.”
The earth below his ground had moved. Never in his wildest imaginations had he thought that his wife could have the courage to stand against him. Every nerve in his body was taut and he stood motionless and speechless.
“In your absence, I took lessons in self-defense at the ‘Naari Savrakshan Kendra’. (Women’s Protection Group). They have a legal-aid cell too”.
“What do you want Kalpana? Will you leave me?” asked Rajiv with tears in his eyes and his vocal chords quivering. Now it was her turn to be taken aback. She had never been exposed to this vulnerable side of his bearing. The Jekyll and Hyde personality was ripped open wide, threadbare in front of her.
“Tomorrow we will visit a marriage counselor“. And he just agreed to her suggestion.
Her mother had rightly said that a married woman’s place was her martial home. She would serve her husband and live with dignity as a human being and rightly as his equal partner.
Kalpana sold her paintings from ‘Ajanta Art Gallery’. Now her palette is full of vibrant colours and now she doesn’t have to wrap the stole around her face.
Thank you, anonymous well-wisher.
Note : It’s a shame that domestic violence on women is still prevalent in our society. This post does not intend to be partial or hurt anybody. There is a small but growing section of the fair sex who is taking undue advantage of the very laws that are meant to protect the harassed women. In my next post we will see the other side of the coin.