For Her

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 06, 2017

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Submitted: June 06, 2017

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Chapter 1
 
“Doctor, may I come in?”, asked Vidya while knocking the half opened door.
“Yes Vidya, please come in”, said the Doctor. Vidya came in and was offered a seat by him.
“So, how is Khushi now? Do you see any sign of improvement?”, asked the doctor formally, looking least interested.
“Yes doctor! Definitely!“, said Vidya excitedly. “I have noticed this over the past few days that now she doesn’t spit out water while drinking”, continued Vidya.
“Is that it?”, Doctor asked disgracefully.
“No…No…there are many like…”, answered Vidya but got interrupted by the doctor.
“Stop! Please stop! Vidya, why don’t you understand? I am asking about mental maturity changes, the changes which show her mental improvement. How many times will we have the same conversation?”, asked the doctor getting irritated. Vidya got silent. The spark of hope in her eyes with which she came to the doctor was vanished. Her eyes were down now.
“Vidya, listen to me”, said the doctor and Vidya turned her eyes to him. “I completely understand your feelings, But let me tell you tell you honestly and frankly that there is nothing much we can do. What have you got by coming here all these years?  You spent your entire savings in Khushi’s operation four years ago. And what was the outcome? The operation got unsuccessful. The doctor which operated her was one of the finest in the country, if he could not treat her then how could you expect my mere medicines will?”, continued the doctor with slight signs of anger.
“I know this, doctor. But I am ready to take Khushi to the United States for getting operated by world’s finest doctor”, said Vidya showing her faith.
“Oh! So now you are planning for United States?”, asked the doctor with a giggle.
“Of course, doctor. I will not stop trying, never”, said Vidya.
“Do you mind if I ask you something about your current receptionist job?”, doctor asked.
“Not at all, doctor. Please ask”, said Vidya.
“Okay. Tell me how much you earn through this job?”, asked the doctor.
“Eight thousand monthly. But why?”, asked Vidya confusingly.
“And what would be your current bank balance right now?”, asked the doctor again. Vidya was again silent. She understood the reason why is she being asked such questions.
“The reason I am asking you all this is to make you aware that the operation you are dreaming can cost you crores. Do you realize that? Even after saving for another twenty years, you won’t be able to gather half of the required money.”, continued the doctor with a sarcastic smile. Vidya understood that she has nothing to say to him. While standing up, she said, “Okay, doctor. I must go now. Thank you for your time”. The doctor smiled at her and Vidya went out of the clinic. She walked to nearby bus stand, thinking about the meeting with the doctor. All she thought was how to arrange that amount of rupees for Khushi’s operation. Her mind knew that she can’t bring that amount but her faith in God and immense love for her daughter overlooked her mind’s perception. 
As the bus arrived, Vidya got into it and took a seat. Throughout the ride, she was just consumed with Khushi’s thoughts. Amidst all this, she suddenly heard the bus conductor calling out the area’s name where she is supposed to get down. She stood up rapidly and got off the bus. Her home was about a couple of minutes walk from there.
Vidya lived in a lower class locality of the town, with her mentally challenged daughter named Khushi. Like every lower class area of India, Vidya’s locality too had uneducated lower class people. Vidya was the only graduate in that entire area. Most of the men passed their time in gambling, drinking liquor and getting involved in small thefts. Most of the houses in this area had the ladies as the working member of the family. They would generally become home maids and earn money. But earn money what for? Just to hand it over to their husbands so that they can buy liquor and spend in gambling, and if the husbands were restricted or interrupted, wives would often end up getting bashed, severely. Domestic violence was a normal practice in such areas. Vidya always tried to shift and move on to a new and better place, but lack of money resulted in cancelling those plans. She knew that this place is not an ideal one for Khushi to grow up, because her mental challenges will be surely be challenged by such people.
 
Chapter 2
 
Like every day, Vidya walked straight to Neelam’s house which was just two streets away from her own. Upon knocking the door, Neelam opened it.
“Oh!  There you come, Vidya. Come in”, said Neelam.
“Not today Neelam ji. Its already too late. I went to the doctor too. Its better I take Khushi back”, said Vidya smilingly.
“For sure. Even I was wondering that how can Vidya be late, and that too for taking her princess home. I was just going to call”, said Neelam continuing her smile.  “Shagun, please bring Khushi here, Vidya has come”, Neelam called out to her daughter-in-law, who was busy with some household work inside.
“Yes maa. Just coming”, answered Shagun from the kitchen. Soon, Shagun and Khushi came out to the front room. As soon as Vidya and Khushi looked at each other, a broad smile came on Khushi’s lips and she paced her steps excitedly. This excitement was the same of a kid who is just taking his first tiny steps with his mother sitting on her knees at the other end, waiting for the kid to reach her, with opened arms. This excitement and smile of Khushi always made Vidya forget her day-long tiredness. The exhausted eyes used to get filled with the shine again. Neelam and Shagun understood that the sight of seeing them hug was priceless, and often their eyes got wet. 
As Vidya took Neelam’s leave and just turned around to go, Neelam said, “Vidya, wait”.
“Yes Neelam ji?”, said Vidya after turning to Neelam.
“I want to talk to you about something important. May I come to your home after about an hour and a half?”, asked Neelam.
“Of course, Neelam ji. Do you feel the need to ask?”, said Vidya with a smile. Neelam smiled too. Vidya, while holding Khushi’s hand, started to walk off. As they were walking, they started to pass by a group of boys. Vidya heard many teasing comments made at Khushi, but ignored, like every day. Practicing eve-teasing was usual for the boys of that locality.
 After having dinner and washing the utensils, Vidya laid Khushi down with her head on Vidya’s lap. While caressing her head gently, Vidya said, “Khushi, my princess, your worries never leave me. When will you get treated? You are already 20 now. Your body growth is so normal and good, but your mind…When will God stop sleeping with opened eyes?”. Vidya looked at Khushi’s innocent eyes which were wondering what her mother is saying. Vidya understood that today too, her words have just strike Khushi’s mind but did not enter her heart. Vidya kissed Khushi’s forehead and said, “No worries, princess, you will definitely get your due”. As she said that, Vidya heard the main door being knocked. She quickly took Khushi to the bedroom and laid her. She then raced towards the main door and opened it. Upon seeing Neelam, she said, “Neelam ji, please come. I was expecting you know”.
“Yes Vidya. I hope you are done with your dinner?”, asked Neelam.
“Of course. You know it very well that this is the time for Khushi to sleep. I just made her sleep”, replied Vidya.
“Oh! So our lovely princess is sleeping now. I wish I could get a sweet kiss from her”, said Neelam smilingly as she came in and they both sat.
“So sorry, Neelam ji. But do you realize one thing. You are very lucky. At least you get to spend almost 10 hours daily with her, while I just have 5”, said Vidya continuing her smile.
“Yes, that’s happily true”, said Neelam.
“Thank you for your love, Neelam ji. So what was the important thing that you needed to discuss with me?”, recalled Vidya.
“Vidya, I have come to you to say something important, but I am still thinking how to say it to you”, said Neelam while taking pauses.
“What is it, Neelam ji? Please tell me”, said Vidya in a very concerned voice and held Neelam’s hands.
“Okay Vidya, I will tell you, because I think I have to, but please assure me that you won’t take it otherwise”, said Neelam seeking assurance.
“Of course Neelam ji, just go on and say. I am like your own daughter. You clearly are aware about our understanding”, said Vidya smilingly while holding Neelam’s hands more firmly now. Look at Neelam who was getting more hesitated now, Vidya insisted again, “Neelam ji, believe me. I won’t misunderstand”.
With a lowered voice and not looking at Vidya, Neelam said, “Like every day, today when you left Khushi to my home and went for the office, I too went to temple. But when I came, I saw something”.
“What?”, asked Vidya getting impatient.
“As soon as I entered the bedroom, I saw that Khushi was without any clothes. She removed them herself”, said Neelam and looked at Vidya, who was shocked. Neelam looked at Vidya’s staring wide open eyes and realized that her senses were jammed. The room got silent. Only the tick of the clock was heard. Upon placing her palm at Vidya’s cheeks, Neelam said, “Vidya, I knew you won’t be able to handle this, that is why I wasn’t sure to inform you. But due to the matter, it would have been wrong to stay silent”. Understanding the situation and composing herself, Vidya thoughtfully said, “Why is she suddenly removing her clothes? Are the clothes not comfortable or…”.
“No Vidya, its not sudden, and its not about comfortable clothes”, interrupted Neelam. “Its been quite a few days that I am noticing her trying to take clothes off. But as I always stopped her, she didn’t remove them earlier”, continued Neelam.
“Then why didn’t you inform me earlier”, asked Vidya with a tone full of concern.
“I thought it was just, just childishness. I didn’t take it seriously, because I never believed she could open up her clothes, all by herself”, answered Neelam in a regretting way. Sensing the regret in Neelam’s answer, Vidya said,”Don’t feel sorry, Neelam ji, its not your mistake. If there is anyone to be blamed, its nature. Otherwise why would a 20 years old girl urinate in front of other people, or start spitting here and there, or slap herself for no reason. Its all nature’s play. And look, now she has started to take her clothes off too”. Taking a pause and looking at Neelam, Vidya said, “I am indebted to you and your family. How could I have earned without keeping Khushi with you? I am indebted to you for the rest of my life, Neelam ji. Who does that for anyone these days?”.
“Please don’t say this. It is my fortune to serve such a beautiful child of God. Not many people get this opportunity. Just forget those debt talks”, said Neelam pleasingly.
“Its your modesty. Otherwise taking care of a girl like Khushi who…”, said Vidya.
“Stop! Stop!”, interrupted Neelam. “Don’t think again and again about her condition, God has made her like this. All we can do is make her life beautiful and easy by treating her”, continued Neelam.
“I understand this, but whenever I see other girls of the same age as Khushi, my heart breaks. It just sends me to a stage where I am just thinking about the unjustified answers of justified questions“, said Vidya with a lowered voice.
“I know very well that you have questions about Khushi’s future. See, I know the reason why aren’t you ready to send her to a mental hospital. But Vidya, I think the conditions might have improved now, please reconsider the option of sending Khushi to the state-run mental hospital”, said Neelam trying to convince her.
“You are going wrong, Neelam ji. Before a month or two, a national survey was printed in an English daily and according to that more than 500 cases of physical assault and rape were registered in last 5 years, all over the country. And the one in our town had 54”, informed Vidya.
“500? Really?”, asked Neelam shockingly.
“Yes, more than 500. So, clearly the conditions are not improving but getting worse. And it would be fine to me if Khushi doesn’t get treated and stays like this all her life, but I won’t tolerate anyone using her body”, said Vidya adamantly.
“I just don’t understand why can’t the mentality of these typical men be improved?”, said Neelam disgracefully. Vidya brought a sarcastic smile and said, “That is totally an irrelevant question to ask to this Indian society”.
“This is the same reason why I have been asking you to leave this locality. Just look at Khushi. She is so beautiful, and you clearly know what young beautiful lower-class girls have to go through. You yourself have been experiencing eve-teasing for years. Localities like ours don’t have anything to offer women”, said Neelam.
“You are right, but what to do. I too want to leave this area, but I am not left with anything at the end of the month. Khushi’s medicines are getting costlier now. How will I manage to give the rent anywhere else? At least I have my own house here”, said Vidya thoughtfully.
Getting hesitated, Neelam asked, “Can you ask your ex-husband for some money? After all, Khushi is his child too”.
“Do you really think I will approach a man who was ready to kill his own daughter for being mentally challenged? He was ready to leave me but not accept our girl because of some so-called honor. Do you think the man is worth contributing to Khushi’s future?”, said Vidya. Neelam remained silent, as she understood that she asked a wrong question. Breaking this silence, Vidya said, “Don’t get worried, Neelam ji. Time will play it’s part. No one can race against time”.
“That is true, Vidya. Just look at my son, not too long ago, he was like the other men of this locality. Gambling was everything he did. But see the change time has brought in him. Its been 3 days now that he has joined as a police constable”.
“That is a good news, Congratulations. So he must have done well in the selection process”, said Vidya happily.
“Yes exactly. He completed all those formalities, but frankly speaking, he even had to bribe the upper level officers for getting the job”, said Neelam with a not so convincing smile.
“I am aware of the bribe system. Its just everywhere”, said Vidya with a giggle. “So, is he liking the new job?”, continued Vidya.
“Do you think they work? Their only task is to impress the local politicians by following their orders, that’s it. These orders are hardly for development or people, instead, they are mostly for their personal interest. You know, the nearby Kashi Nagar plot on which an orphanage was to be made is used for building a posh residential complex, and guess who is doing this, its Rakesh Patil, the local politician who handles the underdeveloped localities like ours. My son told me that people like Patil often practice illegal activities which get overshadowed by their political status. This is reality”, said Neelam with a sigh. Vidya was listening her silently and wondered where the ethics and morals of people have gone. Why do some powerful individuals seek personal interest at the cost of social welfare and development? Seeing Vidya being consumed with thoughts, Neelam laughingly said, “Vidya, stop thinking now. Look at the time, I must go now. My grandson would be sleepy and must be waiting for my ‘goodnight stories’. He is 10 now but still never sleeps without me”.
“Grandmother stories are a special part of childhood. And yes Neelam ji, its too late, please go carefully”. Soon Neelam got out of the main door while Vidya just stood inside to see her off. After walking a few steps, Neelam stopped and turned towards Vidya and said, “You are a good woman. Just wait for the good things to happen”.
“Its good to hear from a lady like you. Good night, Neelam ji”, said Vidya with a smile.
“Good night”, said Neelam smilingly and started walking off. Vidya closed and locked the door and went inside. Upon lying on the bed besides Khushi, she peacefully watched her and caressed her head once. “Princess, why do remove your clothes? Why are you developing such a habit?”, said Vidya very softly and kissed her forehead. While trying to sleep, the incident of Khushi removing her clothes and roaming inside the bedroom was visualized by Vidya. She thought about the consequences which could be led by the incident like this. These thoughts left Vidya thinking and scared too.
Next few days were similar to earlier ones. In the morning, Vidya would leave Khushi at Neelam’s house and go to the office. Khushi stayed there all day and in the evening, Vidya would bring her back. After dinner, Vidya always made Khushi sleep with the head on her lap and talk to her regardless of Khushi understanding a bit or not. Of course, she did not understand anything. Nature sometimes does play with people, and Vidya was one of them. What could be more saddening for a mother that her own child is incapable to understand what she conveys, ever. A mother’s love, her anxiety, her wishes and even her care would never be expressed to her child’s heart. This motherhood is the most difficult one for a mother to have. Yet, she never complains but does her job, not necessary dutifully, but out of love for her child. Vidya too had this motherhood. Every day in the morning, Vidya would wake up with the intent of earning for Khushi’s betterment. This intention, with which Vidya woke up, was the proof that definitely she was helpless, but not hopeless.
One day, Vidya was in her office. She was constantly receiving calls through the office landline and keeping the records of the callers. Suddenly she realized that her own mobile is vibrating. Upon lifting the mobile from her desk, she saw that it was a call, still incoming, from Neelam. She quickly picked up the call and said, “Neelam ji, is everything alright?” sensing something weird as Neelam had hardly called her during office timings. On the other end of the call, Neelam, with a cry in her voice, said, “Vidya, please come fast. Khushi is being teased and played by some drunk boys. She went out of the house, without clothes. Please come fast”.  
 
 
Chapter 3
 
She rushed. She rushed hard. All along the way, she thought about the inevitable turn her life took, which she feared long ago. The things which she wanted to avoid by not sending Khushi to a mental hospital, happened. Her phone rang. Expecting it to be Neelam’s, she picked the call.
“Neelam ji, where is she? How is she? Are the boys still there?”, asked Vidya rapidly.
“Hey…Hey…Listen. I am Shruti, from the office. Where are you? Boss is shouting now…”, said the caller on the other end and got interrupted by Vidya, “Shruti, listen. Inform him that I am quitting the job. I won’t be able to continue” and hung up the call. The phone rang again, it was Neelam this time. Upon picking up the call, Vidya asked the same question, to which Neelam replied, “Vidya, just come to the government hospital, just come” and hung up the call with a seemed disappointment of not having enough courage to inform further. This disappointment explained many things to Vidya. Thinking about the actions and consequences of the incident, Vidya turned still, she got motionless as if everything was finished, everything.
She reached the hospital. Upon inquiring, she came to know that Khushi was in the ICU. Taking the stairs, she reached the floor. Neelam and Shagun were sitting on the chairs outside the ICU. They saw Vidya entering the corridor and stood up and walked towards her. Neelam straightaway hugged her and said crying loud, “I am so sorry Vidya, so sorry. It all happened because of us, our negligence.” Vidya’s face was expressionless with still eyes. She was in no state to have a conversation.
“I went to the temple. Shagun was washing clothes in the wash area. When I was leaving for the temple, I did tell Shagun to keep an eye on Khushi. Khushi was sleeping then, in the bedroom and…”, continued Neelam and stopped and Shagun started to speak, “…and I got busy washing clothes. I didn’t realize but it took me about an hour in the wash area. With the loud sound of running tap, I couldn’t listen anything. When I finished and went to check Khushi, she was gone. The door was opened, probably my son must have kept it while going to play outside. He didn’t even inform me before going. And when I went outside to search, she was on the streets, the boys were…”, unable to speak more, she started shedding tears. Vidya was listening motionlessly. Her eyes still didn’t move, but couldn’t resist getting wet.
“I was coming from the temple, when I saw this happening. I got bewildered at the very first sight. We tried to counter them, but they had pistols. Nobody could do anything”, said Neelam while still hugging her.
“How did she end up being in the ICU?”, asked Vidya turning her eyes to Shagun.
“When we were helplessly witnessing the incident, Maa called you to inform”, said Shagun. “In about five minutes, a car came, big and luxurious one. They dragged Khushi into it and drove away. I got scared, we all were. Then about 15-20 minutes later, when I was informing my husband about the incident, hoping that being a constable he would soon get the police here, that same car came. One of the boys threw away Khushi out of the car and threatened all of us to stay quiet. It seemed the boy was threatened too. Then, we brought Khushi here”, continued Shagun shedding her tears. Hearing this, Vidya closed her eyes, a drop of tear fell. This tear projected her condition as it had the salt of despair, the liquidity of grief and the transparency of her condition.
Three of them were seated, silent. After sometime, the doctor came out of the ICU and informed Vidya that Khushi is been raped, brutally raped. The doctor told them that it is a police case and he has to inform the police, and gave them permission to see Khushi. Vidya went into the ICU with slow steps, as if she too, like Neelam and Shagun, didn’t have the courage to go in. She came near the bed, Khushi was asleep. Her body was full of harsh scars, still some blood coming out of it. Her face, which used to be so beautiful, was turned red and damaged. One end of her lip had a deep cut. Scars and cuts on her legs still had some glass particles untaken. Probably all those scars were made though glass, glass of a bottle. Seeing all this, Vidya fell onto her knees, cried very hard and loud. In a mixed emotion of agony and anger, she started hitting her fist against the floor. Soon, she was handled by Neelam and Shagun, who brought her out of the room.
A couple of hours passed. They were waiting for Neelam’s son, the constable to come, as he told them to wait until he gathers some information about the incident. He came soon and straightaway took them a room where police usually interrogates. With a faded face, he started saying hesitantly, “Vidya, listen to me carefully. Please, please forget this incident” and the ladies looked at him with confusion.
“What? What are you saying? How can we let go and forget the ones who did this?”, asked Neelam agitatedly.
“Yes. How can we even think of that?”, asked Shagun with the same emotion as Neelam. Vidya was quiet, as if she understood the untold matter.
“Who were they?”, asked Vidya.
“Out of the five boys, one was the son of Rakesh Patil, our politician. His name is Pratap. Rest were all his workers”, said Neelam’s son. “When Shagun called me and told to enquire, I straightaway started going to the Commissioner, who came to our police station for a routine visit. Upon reaching the gate of his room, the constable standing outside stopped me and told to wait as there were some guests inside. I soon started overhearing their conversation. They were talking about the same incident. I asked the other constable about the people inside the room, he informed that Rakesh Patil’s son and his workers have raped a mentally challenged naked girl. He was overhearing them from the very start. We started listening them, they were again and again requesting the commissioner to look upon the matter and make sure that no one comes to know about it. The commissioner too gave them assurance that no one would ever make out. Rakesh Patil and our commissioner are very close friends. All the illegal practices of Patil are managed and handled by him personally”, continued Neelam’s son and took a sigh.
“How did they get Khushi?”, asked Vidya.
“When Khushi went outside, to the street just outside our house, the drunk workers were there too, probably for some work of Patil. After teasing and playing with Khushi for a while, they called Patil’s son, who came there with his car, and the rest happened”, informed Neelam’s son with a lowered voice.
All four were silent. It seemed that the dark room grew even darker. Neelam placed her hand on Vidya’s shoulder and asked, “What do you plan to do know? We just had police as our only help but that too is in the hands of Patil”. Vidya didn’t answer, of course she didn’t have one, but she looked intended of something.
“Even if police arrests Patil’s son, what is the use? He would get bail in few days and Patil will start harassing Vidya for withdrawing the complaint”, said Neelam’s son. “I would have suggested going to the media, but the heads of the media houses would never go against Patil, believe me. Media houses would never risk themselves”, he continued. Meanwhile, a nurse came to them and handed a list of medicines required for Khushi. Vidya stepped out of the hospital to get the medicines. She saw some medical shops in front of the hospital and started going towards it. Just in the mid way, her phone rang. It was an unknown number. She picked up the call and said, “Who is it?” understanding the weirdness of the call.
“Vidya, I am Rakesh Patil”, said the caller.
Vidya was not shocked at all, as if she was expecting the call, but didn’t give an answer.
“See, I know whatever happened to your girl was not right. Many times I have scolded my son for things like these, but you yourself know how these young boys are”, said Patil with a laugh.
“Why have you called me?”, asked Vidya sharply.
“I have just called you to ask, where are you going from the hospital? You seem to be in a hurry”, said Patil and continued his laugh. Vidya understood that she is being followed. She started turning her head again and again in curiosity to find those who are following her. Patil continued, “Don’t search them, Vidya. They are my men, well trained and undercover too. So let us stop wasting my time and yours. I am coming straight to the point. Accept a blank cheque from me, fill in your amount and close this matter forever. I know my son didn’t do a good thing, but I can’t send him to jail for silly mistakes like these”.
“Silly mistakes? You find this entire thing silly?”, asked Vidya.
“Come on Vidya. You know what I mean. And do you think my men would let you go to a place like police station or anywhere else, where you can extend the matter? Why do you want to be killed? Don’t you worry about your beautiful daughter? Who would take her care after you? Don’t even think of taking those steps which could hurt you or your girl. And the matter is not at all that serious. Do you one thing? Only my son touched your daughter, the rest were just standing outside the car, guarding. Believe me. He was just making love to her, nothing else. People often do silly things while they are drunk, otherwise my son is a very good boy”, said Patil with ease. After not getting a reply for a while, Patil continued again, “Don’t think too much, Vidya. Opportunity like this doesn’t come easily. I will pay the hospital bills and you can have the blank cheque too. Treat your daughter’s illness in any corner of the world. This is the best for your daughter, believe me”.
Taking a deep breath, Vidya said, “Okay Patil ji. I will take the money”.
 
 
Chapter 4
 
Hearing this, Patil said in an egoistic tone, “Good. I expected you to be smart and understand what is better. My men will hand over the cheque to you in half an hour.
“Wait Patil ji. I have one condition”, said Vidya firmly.
“Condition?”, said Patil laughingly and continued, “Do you think you are in a state of having a condition? The police, media and every damn thing is in my hands. To whom will you go if I refuse?”.
“Everything? What about Swaraj Singh, the opposition leader who is going to contest the upcoming elections against you, is he too in your hands?”, said Vidya with an elegant laugh.
Upon hearing the name of the opposition leader, Patil stood up from his chair, he said cautiously, “What about Swaraj Singh? How do you know him?”
“I too have a political mind, Patil ji. I mailed him at his office email-id informing him that I have a strong evidence as a video clip against Rakesh Patil”, said Vidya.
“What evidence? Which video clip?”, asked Patil losing his control.
“Video clip of your son throwing my daughter out of the car and threatening the people of my locality. One person in the crowd had taken the clip silently”, said Vidya getting slight loud.
“Who took that video? Tell me”, shouted Patil.
“I am not a fool, Patil ji. But remember one thing, if you or your men try to harm me or my daughter, that video would be sent to Swaraj Singh by that person, and believe me Patil ji, that person would do that for me and you would never know who that person was”, said Vidya. Patil was shocked. He couldn’t speak another word and started to sweat. Vidya could hear someone asking him that what happened. Regaining his composure and after drinking some water, he calmly said, “Vidya, listen to me. You won’t do that, please. Tell me your condition”.
“Good. Now listen to me carefully. Tonight, I will bring my daughter back to home. Sharp at 1 in the night, you have to send your son to my home with the blank cheque”, said Vidya.
“Send my son? Why him? Anyone could give the cheque to you”, said Patil.
“Because along with handing over the cheque to me, he will touch my daughter’s feet with his head, then after saying sorry to her, he may go”, said Vidya.
After thinking for a while and taking a sigh, Patil said, “Okay. He will do that. But the matter should be closed forever after this”.
“Surely, Patil ji. Everything will be at peace after that. But I am saying this again, if anything happens to me or my daughter till we reach home, the video would be sent to Swaraj Singh and you will be finished”, said Vidya firmly.
“I get that, Vidya. I totally get that”, said Patil calmly. “But wait, what if you are lying?”, continued Patil.
“About what?”, asked Vidya.
“About the video. What if you don’t have any video? Send me the video right now”, said Patil.
“As I told earlier, I am not a fool, Patil ji. I can’t let my person send the video to you, you will get his number and location, and I don’t have a copy too. But I have seen the clip, believe me Patil ji, your respect and political status will be vanished if Swaraj Singh gets that. And as an additional evidence, I am already recording this conversation”, said Vidya with a sarcastic smile.
“No…No…You won’t send anything to him. Everything will be done according to you. Just don’t stretch the matter”, said Patil and hung up the call. He was thinking over the matter, he knew he had been trapped completely. He sat down slowly. His son, Pratap was seated too, scared.
“Pratap, did you see anyone recording the incident when you threw the girl outside the car?”, asked Patil with closed eyes.
“Dad, I was too drunk. All I wanted to do was throwing her and get away as soon as possible”, said Pratap with eyes downside.
“Idiot, there were our men with you too, you should have told them to throw her. And why did you take her again to that place? You could have thrown her anywhere else, you idiot. But how could you think all of that? I have told you millions of time not to drink this much”, shouted Patil and threw away the glass of water kept on the table.
“I am sorry, dad. I really am. I won’t repeat this, I promise”, said Pratap and started crying. Patil stood up and came close to him. As soon as Pratap looked at him, Patil slapped him. Pulling Pratap’s collars, he said, “Your promises, your sorry is of no use to me. An ordinary lower-class woman is ordering me, just because of you. If Swaraj Singh gets that video or the call recording, God knows, how badly he will expose the matter to win the elections”.
“Dad, can’t you ask to Swaraj Singh or his office employees about the mail?”, asked Pratap.
“Are you not aware of our rivalry? Do you think they would answer me or anyone else about this sensitive matter which could win them elections? Stop thinking all these things, idiot”, said Patil continuing his shout.
“No dad, no. I will do anything you say. I won’t let you be in any trouble”, cried Pratap.
“You better do that. Otherwise I would be kicked out of the party and you will end up being behind the bars”, said Patil as he moved away from Pratap and turned his head. Pratap understood Vidya’s condition. He just wanted to finish the matter and secure his father’s position and status, and for this he was ready to put his ego aside and touch Khushi’s feet with his head.
Vidya went in to the hospital with the medicines. She told Neelam and Shagun about Patil’s call but didn’t mention the evidences. She told them that she doesn’t have the capacity to fight against a powerful man like Patil and has settled the matter with a good amount of money offered by him. Neelam and Shagun were quiet surprised by this. They never thought that a principled and self respectful woman like Vidya would settle for money. Of course they didn’t express this on her face but gave it a thought. Soon, they realized that the wish of getting her daughter treated might have been the key for settling. They were convinced with this as it seemed a wise decision, because whatever was to happen has happened and Vidya should look towards the future now. Probably, this was the best option for Vidya and Khushi, they thought.
Khushi was discharged from the hospital within some hours after her consciousness. Vidya assured the doctors that she will feel better at home and recover quickly. She brought Khushi home and gave her the medicines so that she sleeps soon. Vidya sat beside her and was consumed with thoughts, the thoughts of Khushi’s future, even after her. She was thinking about the challenges her daughter’s survival would face. She thought about the incidents which may occur in which people like Patil’s son would use her. Is she just for satisfying someone? Just for someone to play with? Doesn’t a person like her deserve a respectable place in this society? Are people like her just meant to die, without the joys of life? What has she achieved by not going to a mental hospital? Questions like these were consuming her.
Vidya was standing in her small balcony, waiting for Pratap to come. The entire area was silent. Nothing could be heard except the usual barking of stray dogs. Streets were empty, all shops closed. Lights of the houses were off and no one could be seen on the road. Vidya was badly waiting for the boy, because of whom everything happened. She was waiting the moment when his head would touch Khushi’s feet. While thinking all this, she suddenly saw an arriving car which stopped on the street which was in front of her balcony. She got alert. Two boys got out of the car with driver still inside. As they moved some steps forward, Vidya said loudly, “Wait!”. The boys stopped and quickly looked at Vidya, whose voice tore the silence.
“Who is Pratap?”, asked Vidya.
“I am Pratap. Rakesh Patil’s son”, answered Pratap.
“See, if I come to know that you are not Pratap and Patil sent someone else, remember, the video is still with my person”, said Vidya strictly.
“No Vidya ji. I am Pratap. I am aware of the video and recording with your person”, said Pratap being nervous.
“Okay. So now, only you would come up here and your mate can wait for you. If your mate tries to come here or try to do anything smart, my person is waiting to hit the ‘send’ button. You can’t see him, but my person is watching you carefully”, threatened Vidya. She could see Pratap being too nervous and probably scared.
“Pratap”, called Vidya. “Now you come up. This would hardly take some minutes”, continued Vidya. Pratap started taking forward steps and the other boy didn’t move an inch, just as Vidya ordered. Pratap’s fright increased with every step he took, but he started quelling it and pacified himself by believing that it’s a simple task to say sorry and touch the girl’s feet. He reached at the main door where Vidya was standing just inside it.
“Come in”, said Vidya. He came inside and saw that the things were hardly visible with just one dim bulb lightened inside the bedroom. The darkness and the quietness of the house were making him very uncomfortable. He was getting restless as he wasn’t able to handle his fright. Vidya took him to the bedroom where Khushi was sleeping. Upon seeing Khushi’s damaged face, Pratap closed his eyes as this all was getting uncontrollable for him.
“Why? Why are you closing your eyes now? Are you not able to look at her?”, said Vidya and slapped him. His eyes got wet. Almost crying, he said, “I am sorry. I was so drunk that…”
“…that you didn’t even realize that you are raping a girl, a mentally challenged girl and threw her on the street”, completed Vidya angrily.
“I know I have done wrong. I am so sorry”, said Pratap bursting into tears.
“Shut up!”, said Vidya. “Look at her red face which used to be so beautiful and pretty. Look at her hands and legs which used to be so soft, but now are full of scars and cuts. See there, the right knee, still bleeding”, continued Vidya with her eyes getting wide and red. Pratap couldn’t see all that, he was just crying with his eyes closed.
“But actions have reactions. Do you understand this? Consequences are unavoidable”, said Vidya with her red eyes getting wet too. “Now, get onto your knees and place your head at my daughter’s feet”, ordered Vidya ragingly. With still unable to stop his cry, Pratap got onto his knees. He started bending slowly towards Khushi’s feet. Vidya could see his tears falling on her fingers. Vidya slowly came behind him. As soon as Pratap’s head touched Khushi’s feet, Vidya quickly held up the carpet placed on the table behind, took out the large knife and stabbed his throat, her eyes were still raging red. He was now lying dead on Khushi’s feet. Seeing him dead, Vidya said, “Cowards like you deserve this. Suffer in hell”. She then quickly dragged his body to the balcony. The other boy was still standing there. Vidya somehow managed to get the body on the railing. Seeing this, the other boy and the driver ran towards the balcony. She quickly rolled the body over the railing and threw him down. The boy and the driver started shouting ‘Pratap’ as they approached his body. They quickly lifted him and got into the car to head towards the nearby hospital.
Seeing all this, Vidya went inside the bedroom and sat beside Khushi. She placed her head onto the lap and started caressing her head, like always. While doing so, she pleasingly said, “Princess, see your mother has killed that boy. The boy, who took your self-respect, is now knocking the doorsteps of hell”. She said all this with a restful smile on her face, as if Pratap’s killing was all that she dreamt of.
Her phone rang, it was Patil. She picked up the call.
“You wicked woman, you killed him. For this you wanted him to come to you”, shouted Patil angrily. “Just see now, what I will do with you and your daughter. I will not settle less than life imprisonment for you, as you have to stay alive for watching your daughter’s life turning into hell. Just wait for the time when I throw your beautiful girl to my men. Just imagine what they will do with her, again. Run wherever you can, Vidya. Run for your life. But you will be caught and not spared. Police will be there in few minutes”, continued Patil angrily.
“Patil, didn’t I say that I will bring everything at peace. I will not run. Where can I run with my daughter? I am here with my princess, going nowhere. I have got what I wanted. And talking about your plans with my daughter, I doubt it, as I know that you won’t spare her, but there is something called destiny”, said Vidya being composed and ended the call. She started caressing Khushi’s head again with a smile on her face. Soon, she heard the siren of the arriving police vehicle. Looking at Khushi’s face peacefully, she said, “Princess, forgive me for doing this. Believe me, I am relieving you, child. This small hearted society didn’t deserve your large hearted challenge. For them, you didn’t fit into the parameters of living. I cannot let another Pratap use you. Your pride and self-respect is dear to me more than your miserable life”. She took the pillow which was under Khushi’s arms, placed it on her face and started pushing it against her nose. Khushi’s body started to shake and tremble. Vidya didn’t look at her, she wasn’t able to. While pressing it harder, she uttered, “Sorry princess, I am so sorry”. Khushi’s body stopped moving. She was lying peacefully now. After removing the pillow, Vidya closed her eyes and didn’t dare to open it. She kissed her forehead, again and again. Vidya hesitatingly opened her eyes slowly. While seeing her so restful, she said lovingly, “I hope there is something better on the other side”. She lied besides Khushi, with a smile on her face. Her worries and anxieties, which she carried along these years, were all gone. She could feel the bliss of her daughter’s departing soul. Justified? Unjustified? She didn’t think. All she did, was for her.


© Copyright 2017 Abhishek Navathe. All rights reserved.

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