A Daughter’s Fight for what’s right

Fright will kill you; Fortitude will build you

Picture Courtesy: https://bit.ly/32YNoBv

It was 7 pm and a Friday night. The girls came back from the dining hall and having a jolly time watching movies together. They planned on staying up all night out and watch all the horror movies that they could find possibly on the internet.

Kanchan was thrilled. After all, this is what makes her happy. She comes from a rich family and has no dearth of luxury yet she finds solace in her small hostel room, in the company of her dear friends. Home to her is an alien world and she prefers staying away from it as much as possible.

Being Friday it was, incessant phone calls at the reception, coming from parents, between 7–9 pm was a normal thing. The girls stay alert and excited at being summoned when their parents called.

That day, too, the phone rang. The call was from Kanchan’s father.

Kanchan was taken aback, so were her friends. Her father never cared to call her even once during the last 2 years so it took her by surprise. It was usually her mother who called often whenever she could.

Kanchan was still in awe. She picked up the phone and timidly uttered “Hello.”

Father: “Hello Kaju, it’s me your Dad. How are you doing?”

Kanchan: “Good dad. I am doing just fine.” (wondering why her father even cared!).

Father: “I hope you haven’t forgotten why I called and I hope your bags are ready!” He spoke this at one go in a harsh tone.

Kanchan: “But, Dad!”

She was interrupted midway.

Papa: “No buts ifs! It’s mine and your mother’s anniversary tomorrow. We are throwing a party and I want you to be here before 6 pm!” Usual tone of arrogance reflected in his voice.

Kanchan sighed from the other end. She wondered how was she going to witness another drama! She was lost in past thoughts when her father’s high pitched tone “Kanchan, are you listening?” brought her back to her senses.

“No, no I remembered. It’s just that I had some assignments to be done. But anyway I will come.”

No matter how much she protested, Kanchan was scared as hell to say no to her father.

And then wishing each other goodnight, Kanchan hung up with a heavy heart. All she wished then was that tomorrow shouldn’t come early!

Alas, but time waits for none. Tomorrow came and in its own pace. It was a five hours journey by bus from the hostel to her place. She started on her journey at noon so that she could be on time before the party, lest she had to face her father’s wrath.

Finally, after five and a half hours journey, she reached home. She rang the doorbell.

She noticed the door was kept slightly ajar so went in. No sooner had she entered, she saw a horde of people at home, some were dancing, some were laughing, some were drinking and some were lazying around in the couch. Overall, it was a fun-filled affair. So, it seemed the party had begun.

She greeted some people here and there and tried to sneak away quickly into her room. But her father’s voice coming from behind made her stop where she was. Trying to hide all her irritation and exhaustion, she put on her so-called happy face and turned towards her father.

“Kaju, oh my dear! You finally arrived. How I missed you!” and hugged her tightly. Oh, how she hated that moment! All she wanted then was to become invisible before anyone could notice her visibly upset face.

On his left, stood her mother, beautiful outside as ever, but with a sense of fear inside, which is so prominent in her eyes. Her mother said nothing but from her eyes, she understood her mother was elated on seeing her daughter after one long year!

Despite being so close by, her mother never forced or asked her to come and meet her. The ordeal of 18 years into marriage has taught her mother to bear all misery of life silently and put on that happy face for the world to see.

However, she couldn’t afford to let her daughter go through the same, so with a lot of tribulation, she somehow managed to persuade her husband to let their daughter finish her high school education staying away from home.

Kanchan’s mother married to a man, who, she thought, loved her. But it didn’t take her long to understand that the man she ended up marrying was not a man but a monster! The first few months of their marriage went on pretty well, but gradually he started showing his true colours.

He started first with verbal abuse but gradually, being alcoholic he was, he started hitting her too. Kanchan’s mother was stunned at first and for many months, stayed in the state of denial, thinking that this was just a phase and it would go away. Alas, only if it were true!

Over time, it became a ritual for him to hit his wife for any petty issues; if he lost his purse she was spanked; if the food had less salt he dipped her hand into a tub of hot water; if she raised her voice she was slapped and if by mistake, any male friend of hers waved her on the way, she was made to kneel as punishment. No sooner her mother was under the complete authority of this monstrous man!

Kanchan’s mother who was so jolly and sociable distanced herself from her family and friends. Her friends and family tried to help her come out of this dreadful wedlock but she was just too scared to take a step forward. And, gradually she was forced to cut off ties from all. She was all alone and lost!

However, amidst the dark clouds, there was a silver lining to the life of this bereaved lady. It was in the form of a baby- Kanchan!

Kanchan came by and with her, she brought a sense of joy to her despondent being. She started living in hope that her marital life will be filled with love and laughter again!

But the horrendous tale of this monstrous man continued. Kanchan vividly remembered all the time when her mother was hit, abused and spanked at, right in front of her. Seeing so much violence since childhood turned her into a timid child. She could hardly voice her opinion or even protest to all the pain that her mother suffered.

It was only later when she was shifted to the boarding school, Kanchan understood the true meaning of life- to laugh freely, to smile broadly, to have fun with no fear, to voice your opinion loudly and much more. She found solace in the company of her friends. Gradually, she distanced herself from her so-called home! But, one phone call forced her to come back after a long 12 months!

She was lost in mixed thoughts of joy and sorrow when suddenly, there was a thud on her shoulder and she came back to the present day.

People were shouting, cheering and clicking pictures of her parents who were cutting the cake and treating each other with a piece each. During that moment, Kanchan felt as if all eyes were fixed on her parents, not at how they celebrated the occasion, but at the way how perfectly they put on the mask of their so-called happy married life! She felt being mocked at and stood there feeling disgusted.

After 2–3 hours of this circus, the people dispersed. Kanchan bid goodnight to her drunken father and hugged her mother. Then she went to her room. She was just too exhausted and needed a bed to rest her mind and body. Within a minute or so she fell asleep.

It was just past an hour since she slept when she was woken up by the loud cries of her mother. A sudden shrill of fear shook her once again- the kind of fear that engulfed her during her childhood. She understood that her mother was once again at the mercy of her monstrous father. She tried to cover her ears with a pillow and pretended to fall asleep but couldn’t. She woke up and rose from her bed.

Still in fright, yet she walked on until she was standing right in front of her parents’ room. Through the keyhole, she saw a horrible sight that shook her very being.

Her mother was on the ground kneeling while his father was sitting on the sofa with a bottle of whiskey on his hand. From the conversation they had, Kanchan understood that her monstrous father was pissed off at her mother as, according to him, she was being more friendly to Mr Bakshi, who he believed, had a soft corner for her!

Her mother kept pleading and reiterating that this was untrue but to no avail. Having his belt removed and gulping the whole bottle at one go, he rose up and at the count of 1,2,3, hit her hard. Ouch!

Her mother shouted and then cried and cried until she could cry no more and fell on the ground motionless!

A sense of abhorrence shook Kanchan’s body. She clenched her teeth and broke open the door. Without batting an eyelid she took hold of the chair and hit the monster hard at his head. Before he could even react he fell on the floor and lost consciousness!

Without losing a second from there, Kanchan ran towards her mother. Her worst fear should not come true. All she wanted then was to see her mother alive and breathing! She prayed to God to give her one last chance to make things better and to never let her mother suffer.

She held her mother by her arms and kept shouting .”Maa, maa wake up, wake up…please please…”

Kanchan was filled with tears and panic. She held her mother tightly and hugged her. She didn’t know what to do. She was shaken to even move an inch from her.

Just then her mother coughed. Alas, God listened. Her mother was alive!

Kanchan burst into tears and hugged her tight once again and planted a kiss on her forehead. She was too weak to open her eyes or to utter a word. Yet, Kanchan made a promise to her never to let go of her.

She promised, no matter what, she won’t let her mother suffer. But for that, she needed to take the first drastic step!

Holding her mother, she placed her on the chair and headed towards the phone, walking past her father who was still laid there unconscious at the floor.

She dialled 100!

In half an hour time, the police were summoned. By now, her father seemed to have gained his senses but was too fragile to rise from there. The police officer moved towards her father and handcuffed him. He saw everything. He sensed everything. He fumbled as he tried to hold the officer’s hands and rise.

Before being taken away to jail, Kanchan moved for one last time towards her helpless father. With a heart filled with disgust, she looked towards him and uttered “This is what you deserve. Rot in jail as long as you live and I will see that you suffer till the end!”

He mumbled something inside his mouth but nothing made sense. Not that anyone cared either!

With that, she turned her back towards him and went towards her mother, who was still wailing in pain. Healing her wounds, both inside and outside, that she endured for so long, seemed her only concern at that moment. Kanchan hugged her mother tightly and in the warmth of her mother’s love, she waited for the storm inside her to pass by.

P.S: Domestic violence is deep-rooted in our society. However, not all cases are being reported. For the fear of being embarrassed or lack of financial independence, most women refrain from coming out in open and protest. But what they don’t realise is that once a monster is always a monster!

Kanchan is not just a character; Kanchan exists in all of us. It’s natural to be intimidated and feel helpless but what is not okay is to give in to such ruthlessness. Kanchan did what was right-she finally took the first step towards justice! Let reality sink in, let go of inhibitions and let nobody overpower you ever!