A short story
Kashish woke up from sleep with a start, she had been dreaming. A beautiful dream it was where she, her husband Tanmay and their little princess Reva were walking by the beach. Reva ran around splashing water, she looked so happy. Seeing her infectious smile, Kashish’s face lit up. And then suddenly dark clouds loomed all over the sky. The three of them looked upwards- it was a premonition of an impending storm. Just like the storm that had taken over their lives. And then the dream ended abruptly.
As she sat down with her cup of tea in the verandah, she thought about the dream. And it’s relevance in their life. How cruel fate could be at times? Who had cast evil eyes upon their happy family? Tanmay and she had married 4 years back. He worked in a garment factory as a supervisor and she worked as a sales woman in the nearby mall. They struggled to make ends meet, every month they had to pay the EMI for the one room kitchen matchbox size house that they lived in, send some money to their parents who lived in the village, take care of household expenses and bills and with that, all the salary was exhausted. They worked hard to make ends meet. They did not give up. An extra shift, some odd jobs here and there helped them to tide over. And then they were blessed with Reva – their lives felt so much more meaningful now. They had so many dreams for her- to educate her in that convent school, send her for dance classes, and make her a good human being. They had to work harder now. And they happily did that.
The phone beeped. Kashish’s jumped out of her thoughts. It was time for duty. Yet another day, a day closer to fulfilling the dream they had seen for their daughter. She was still short of a few thousands to make good the donation amount. She had just a few days left. I should buck up she thought. She took out the sequined blouse from the cupboard and dressed up. She applied make up like a pro and brushed her hair. She looked at herself in the mirror. A woman in her mid 30’s, slim, sexy with a blouse that showed ample cleavage, kohl smeared eyes, dark red lipstick and pink blush. She was ready. It was time for her second shift. In the day she worked as a sales woman at the mall earning some paltry amount and by night she worked as a sex worker earning 2-3 times the same sum.
Life’s such an irony. She used to look down upon those who indulged in the flesh trade always wondering why could they not take up and other vocation, how can they sleep with so many different men, how does their conscience allow them to do this? But when fate dealt her the most cruel blow, she understood probably why they do that.
That fateful night- had they not decided to go out for dinner, had they decided to take the bus instead of walking, had that car’s brakes not failed, had it hit a tree instead of her husband? She couldn’t erase that ghastly memory from her mind, as much as she tried. His blood stained clothes, the cries for Help, taking him to the hospital, the operations- one after another as she waited outside. They seemed like the longest hours of her life. And then the doctor broke the news of his one side of the body left paralyzed by the accident. It was a huge blow to them.
Once they were able to come to terms with this reality, the mounting hospital bills and the fact that he would no longer be able to get back to work hit them. It was a much bigger blow. The entire responsibility fell on her shoulders now. She couldn’t afford to be fragile. She had no time to sit and weep. She had to be up on her feet and sprinting, it was a marathon she was running. She joined back work and toiled hard. She worked an extra shift too but money was never enough. Reva would be starting school soon and their savings were almost exhausted by his medical bills.
One night when she was breaking her head over how the how could she earn some extra money to fund these needs, her neighbor Malti came over. She shared her troubles with Malti and Malti gave her an unexpected answer. She was appalled at the suggestion at first, how could she even think of something as disgusting at that? She was badly in need of money no doubt hit that doesn’t mean she could stoop so low. Sell her body to another man, the thought itself made her retch. She refused to talk further on this topic and asked Malti to leave. A few more days of futile struggle and when she saw her husband suffer in pain just because she couldn’t afford his expensive pain killers and the deadline for paying her daughter’s school fees loomed over her head- the day was getting closer and she was nowhere close to collecting money.
And that night when she went on her new job for the first time. When she returned home and puked in the sink, washed herself, furiously rubbing each part of her body he had touched, her abode that was sacrosanct and had been violated. She couldn’t get out of her mind that pot bellied man who feasted on her and then threw her away like a piece of rotten meat once he had satiated his hunger it had been a couple of months now and she no longer scrubbed herself every morning after getting back home. She just curled up beside her daughter who slept blissfully unaware and higher her right as she drifted off to sleep watching the little ones angelic face.
Today was yet another day and as she watched the faces of her husband and daughter and thought of all their dreams and her resolve to fulfill them she felt a fresh surge of hope. A hope that one day at a time things would change. This would not last forever. Reva would study; she would live a different life. An empowered one where she has the power of choice. And as a mother she would stretch every muscle and leave no stone unturned to give her daughter the life that she deserved, the life that Tanmay and she had always dreamt to give their child. She would not be bound by as fate similar to that of her parents by virtue of birth.
She will carve her own destiny and I shall be the wind beneath her wings, the soil that shall hold her firm, protect her and nurture her and see her grow from a tiny sapling to a blooming tree. Watching her daughters face gave her a new ray of hope, a silver lining in the dark sky. The fate she had inherited would change and she would bring about that change. With a smile on her lips and a glint in her eyes, she departed.