Sunday, April 05, 2015

Dark Is The Devil

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 53; the fifty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with ​Soulmates: Love without ownership by Vinit K Bansal. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Pic from http://www.lulas.com


“I love chocolates”, she sounded a little garbled with her mouth filled with generous bites of the dark brown slab. Her pearly white teeth were now smudged with the colour of the slightly softened bar. But she seemed not to mind. I scanned her face for that morsel of remorse which I thought she must be trying very hard to disguise. But to my disappointment she acted so normal, a little child-like perhaps, yet definitely ecstatic biting ravenously and almost vengefully into the thick, long piece of chocolate, now almost halved in size.


I wondered for the nth time whether it would not be heartless to remind her that she was out on bail. Charged of a gruesome murder, she did not seem one bit perturbed – just enjoying every moment of life which was in hand and absolutely not bothering what would happen if the verdict of the Court was not in her favour. But she did not seem to care a damn for the morrow. She was now licking her fingers one after the other as the chocolatey glue trickled down the length of her middle and ring fingers – she seemed to be savouring  along with her chocolate, a Zen moment, merely being aware of the fact that she was having a piece of her favourite desert, which was coursing down her fingers in tactile pleasure.


Had it been somebody else, the scene to him/her might have been puzzling, disturbing or at its extreme, disgusting. But not for me because I knew Sandhya for more than a decade now – the quiet, simple home bird whose upbringing centered around the notion that girls were parented to be married off to strangers and manage their homesteads as if they were their own. Girls like Sandhya institutionalized marriage by giving in their hundred percent and getting nothing in return except bruises and abuses.


Chandar was not a born looser. He was well educated in so far as degrees were concerned. But when he lost his cushy job as the Head Accountant in a private firm due to certain inadvertent mistakes his confidence crumbled. Thereafter, it was one short lived job to another which broke him gradually. There are some men in this world who cave in to disaster very rapidly. Chandar was one of them. He attributed his repeated failures at first to circumstances and then to his wife. Every night he would return home mentally and physically tired. The simplest of word from Sandhya’s lips or the most mundane event of the day would then prove to be catastrophic. In the beginning, it would be a few heated exchanges sprinkled with one or two abusive slangs which graduated into a habit of speech. And as the calamitous days of joblessness increased verbal abuses gave way to violent outbursts.


I would often be woken up in the middle of the night by angry shouts followed by muffled sobs. My flat was adjacent to theirs and the wall in between was not soundproof as many flat owners of the Capital would vouch.


I knew Sandhya as a Good Samaritan always extending a helping hand to my mother when I was in office or out on an errand. “What a nice girl!” My mother always remarked after a friendly tete-a-tete with the next door neighbour. Her marital rifts saddened her. But being a private person herself she did not think it was right to probe in Sandhya’s personal affairs unless and until she herself thought it prudent to confide in us.


Of late, Sandhya would appear pale and thin. A scar here and a bruise there would be the telltale marks which disclosed much that she frantically tried to camouflage behind wan smiles, vacant eyes and colourless contours. But she fought valiantly not against her husband but against fate.




She was good at sewing and crafting and took up a part time job in a nearby school as Arts & Crafts Teacher. It was a temporary job but every penny that could be scraped in was welcome. Chandar had inherited the flat from his parents. So one worry was less – nobody could snatch away the roof on their heads. Yet, it was getting increasingly difficult to maintain the flat and pay the bills and taxes.


It was one rainy dusk that the inevitable happened. I had just walked in from office and about to sit down with the customary cup of evening tea that Sandhya rushed in. She looked terribly upset. Chandar had been home that day. And as they say, idle brain is devil’s workshop, he had been fighting with her incessantly, accusing her of being a show-off, since at present, her earnings happened to be more than his, on which the house was now more or less being run. A flustered Sandhya could not take it anymore and had walked out in protest.


That evening she unburdened herself before me and Maa. By the time she finished recounting her pathetic story we three were bleary eyed and choked. After sometime I got up, opened the fridge and took out a cube of dark chocolate. Handing her the piece, I said, “Chocolates are a woman’s best friend. They up your mood in no time.” She ate it gratefully. From then onwards, it became quite a ritual and a regular affair as well. A manhandled, browbeaten Sandhya chomping on pieces of Silk, Fruits & Nuts or a Plain Dairy Milk in my drawing room after a showdown with her husband.


***


I empathized with Sandhya. She was a soft spoken, kind hearted soul. A little shaken by the turn of events in her life but immensely house proud. She maintained her home well even with the meager resources that she managed to get by with diligence and industry along with a husband who was day by day getting out of hand and becoming intolerable. Yet Sandhya pulled on. At first I had taken her quietness as timidity. Gradually, I realized that she was a girl of remarkable aptitude, inner strength and courage. I came to respect her.


However, strong Sandhya might have been, I had never imagined her to be capable of murder in my weirdest of dreams. Yet, she did bloody her hands.


***


If you ask me how it all happened I would not be able to say. We were woken up at about 03.00 am in the night by a huge commotion. When I came out in the balcony the police had already come in. Who had called them? Sandhya refused to clarify. There were two dead bodies lying in the drawing room – one was of Chandar and the other one was of one of his friends who had suddenly paid a visit to settle some past scores with him. Most probably an argument had erupted which transpired into a scuffle. How did Sandhya get embroiled in the brawl I would not know as she decided to seal her lips tight. When the police walked in Sandhya was standing over the spread-eagled bodies with a bloody kitchen knife in hand. For the police the case was as lucid as broad daylight. For Sandhya, her fate was sealed as much as her lips were.


***


The next sequence of events was a blur. Things happened so fast that it was hard to chronicle. Sandhya’s parents rushed in. Poor things had always thought Sandhya was happily ensconced in Chandar’s heart!! A lawyer was arranged who was competent yet helpless. All evidences pointed against Sandhya. A case of self-defense could have been filed but Sandhya’s silence made the situation so immensely hopeless.


Thankfully, a bail could be arranged. And here she was sitting on the sofa digging her teeth into a bar of nutty chocolate! I did not have the heart to remind her of the uncertainties ahead. I thought she knew that she stood no chance. Yet, she wouldn’t let her choco-chip moment go undevoured.


I mustered all my heartlessness and whispered, “Sandhya! What about the future?” Her lips stretched in a gleeful smile, a smile that I had missed for as long as she was with Chandar. Her mouth was full. Wordlessly she rolled her eyes upwards. And then she invested all her attention to the chocolate in hand. I watched her, watched the deep lines running down on either side of her chin, watched the grey strands lining her forehead, watched the dark patch around her eyes…..eyes which were no more vacant but shining with an odd light….a light which provided the perfect complement to the brown stains melting down the corners of her lips….the colour of rich, brown chocolate… a woman’s greatest friend…indeed!!!


I wondered if God forbid Sandhya had to cross over the invisible threshold of death would she still be clutching a brick of molten chocolate in her hand…


I shook my head immediately.


It was hard to image the scene as it was getting unusually blurred.


I tasted salt on my tongue….not the right taste to go with a chocolatey noir!!!

(Domestic violence and abuse is a curse upon the institution of marriage. Fight it!!!!)

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 01

13 comments:

  1. Very sad story, so true of so many middle class lives. I loved the way you described her chocolate savouring as a Zen moment...!

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  2. There is no class distinction when it comes to domestic violence. Even the Upper Class is not saved from its ills. And its a way of life in the lower class, as we all know. Thanks for being the first to comment.

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  3. Its a pleasure to receive your comment Vimala. Hope you are coping well.

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  4. Women's should be stronger to handle the domestic violence but in some cases, they are failing like Sandya. Because of his cruel husband, she lost her beautiful life. Toching write-up. All the best for BAT!

    Vidhya

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  5. You are absolutely right Vidhya. However, every individual has his or her own way or protest. Thanks for your presence on this post

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  6. nicely narrated story but I think you missed the reason why she killed her husband and his friend , end also appears incomplete to me

    My Blog-A-Ton Entry Raju's Chocolate

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    Replies
    1. The absence of reason and the inconclusive ending is deliberate. How would you end a situation like Sandhya's and what reasons could she have of committing such a crime?

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  7. It is sad to know that Sandya lost her life. This is one of the darkest entry in this edition. All the very best for BAT!

    Someone is Special - Life is a Chocolate

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    Replies
    1. Every temptation has a dark side to it, Thanks for your comment and wishes. All the best to you too.

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  8. Read such narration after a long time..Enjoyed it...Though made me sad but hopeful..

    ~AyushiA

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