ASHES

Reads: 164  | Likes: 6  | Shelves: 6  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
She suffered so that you didn't have to. What are you going to do about it?

Submitted: July 29, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 29, 2017

A A A

A A A


The alarm went off at half past 4. One ring was enough to wake her. Her body still ached from last night’s beating but at least the three hours of sleep had lessened the pounding in her head. The sun would be up in a couple of hours and she had work to do. Like clockwork, she started with their bathroom. She worked her way through the bedroom, the living room, the guest bedroom, her mother in law’s room and finally the kitchen. A light sheen of sweat had formed over her skin. It had taken her an hour and a half this time. She smiled tiredly, that was a new record. She always kept the balcony for last. She timed it perfectly so that she wouldn’t miss the sunrise. She stepped out into the balcony and a cool breeze kissed her skin making her shiver in delight. A dirty rag in one hand and a jhadu in the other, she stared up at the rosy sky. The sun was peeking its cheeky little head from below the sea, its tendrils timidly poking at the vast black sky. The sea was beginning to lose its cloak of shadow and mystery as its blue hue came out to play. The sun had grown in confidence and it burst through the darkness, bathing the balcony in its brilliance.

She turned back around to go back inside when a dark spot on the bottom of the wall caught her eye. She bent down on her knees to get a closer look. She sighed with frustration when she realized that it was her blood again. She hated it when that happened. She always tried to make sure that her cuts bled on disposable or cleanable things. Bloodstains angered him more and she tried her to best to avoid them. Unfortunately, after he had slammed her head on the wall it had left her a bit disorientated and she hadn’t even been aware that her head was bleeding until much later. Subconsciously, she ran her fingers over the ugly scar across the side of her forehead. She scrubbed at the bloodstain until her fingers were raw but one week had been enough for the wall to etch it into itself. Exhausted, she looked at it after 15 minutes of hard scrubbing. It had faded slightly but was still quite visible. It would have to do because if she didn’t start making the breakfast, she would have plenty more bloodstains to worry about. She hurried back into the kitchen and discarded the rag and mop to one side. It was 6:45, which meant she had 20 minutes to prepare three cups of tea, set the table and make breakfast.

 Just as she was pouring out the tea, she heard her husband’s call. Quickly she loaded the tea on the tray and walked into the living room. Her husband, mother in law and sister in law had seated themselves around the table. She laid the tea on the table and normally she would disappear back into the kitchen but today was special. She waited patiently at the side, waiting for one of them to notice her so that she could speak.

Each second that passed was accentuated by the rhythmic tapping of her husband’s slender surgeon fingers against the wooden tabletop. He was one of the most respected doctors in the country. She was extremely lucky that he had chosen her for his wife. Those slender hands had saved lives during the day and bruised her body at night. That was the tax she had to pay because of her family’s incompetence to fulfill the dowry expectation. “We are going to visit your family today. They’ve promised to finally give us the dowry they owe. It’s your lucky day,” her sister-in-law crowed. Delighted, she replied,” That’s great! I was actually hoping for something myself. Today is my 19th birthday and I wanted to go visit my son.” There was a moment of complete silence. She stood in the corner wringing the life out of her hands. She had been working extra hard for the last two weeks, making sure that they couldn’t hold anything against her when she finally made the request. It had been six months since she had seen her son and she couldn’t wait to see his big brown eyes and dimpled cheeks. Her thoughts were interrupted by her mother-in-law exploding, “YOU UNGRATEFUL CUNT! HAVE WE NOT GIVEN YOU A HOUSE TO LIVE IN AND CLOTHES TO WEAR AND FOOD TO EAT! IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR HER HIGHNESS? WE SHOULD HAVE THROWN YOU TO THE STREETS THE MINUTE YOUR FAMILY FAILED TO PAY THE DOWRY AND HERE YOU HAVE THE AUDACTIY TO STAND IN MY HOUSE AND MAKE DEMANDS.” Her husband laid a calming hand on his mother’s shoulder, who was red faced and breathing heavily by now. He saw her cowering under the torrent of abuse and motioned for her to approach him. She bent until she was eye level with him. He hit her once. Then he hit her again. “Do you know what that was for?” he asked in a pleasant voice. “ I-I-I upset Ma?” she stammered. “You’ve become smarter, I’m impressed,” he said warmly, “And what about the second time?” “I called him o-o-our son?” “Two out of two! Turning 19 seems to have sharpened your mind. He is my child, remember that. You are and always will be a stranger to him.” She had never had the courage to stand up for herself and today wasn’t any different, so she nodded in agreement. “However, if your family grants us our dowry today, I might take you to see MY son,” he continued. She felt flickers of life and hope rise inside her and she prayed vigorously that her family had managed to scrounge up enough to satisfy her husband and his family.

Something was wrong. It had been six hours since her in-laws and husband had left for her house. Even with the distance to her house, they should have been back two hours ago. She knew her fate depended on how this meeting went. She perked up when she heard the main door open and the sound of footsteps became audible. Suddenly she shrunk back into her huddled form in the corner of her room. The meeting had not gone well. She could hear her mother-in-law’s shrieks mixed with her husband’s angry shouts. The footsteps grew louder. She jumped out of her skin when the door slammed open. She cowered when her she met her husband’s glowering eyes. “Please, please I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” she whimpered like a wounded dog, pressing as far back into the wall as was physically possible. She might as well have been talking to herself because a second later she was roughly pulled onto her feet. Her sister-in-law’s nails dug into her skin, purposely making sure to draw some blood. “You can take my jewelry please, it’s under the bed! Take it take it! I’ll work harder I promise. I won’t ask for anything, I’ll sleep on the floor and I’ll pay you back I promise. PLEASEEE!!PLEAAASE!!” she wept. Her throat was sore but they still continued dragging her out of the house. Pieces of wood had torn the skin from under her nails as she tried to hold on to door after door. They hustled her screaming and crying body into the private elevator and into their garage. A rag was stuffed into her mouth to prevent her from alerting the neighbors and her arms were bound tightly behind her back. She was shoved into the trunk of the BMW. She felt the car start up and then they began to move.

She had lost track of time. Had it been 10 minutes? Had it been an hour? Were her eyes open or were they shut? The darkness was overwhelming. The occasional bump in the road was the only thing that she was aware of. After what seemed like forever, she felt the car come to a standstill. The trunk cracked open and she caught a glimpse of the night sky. They weren’t in the city anymore. You could never see the stars in the city. Her mother-in-law barked at her to get out the trunk. She winced as her body groaned in protest at being woken up from its slumber. She had barely made her way out of the trunk when her husband pushed her against a tree and tied her to it. It was going to be a witch burning. She pulled against the ropes, almost breaking her arms in the process but it was doing more harm than good. She didn’t want to die. She wanted to see her son again. When her sister-in-law came towards her with a can of kerosene, she bit down on the arm holding the can forcing her to drop it. Her sister-in-law cursed loudly before returning with a vengeance and gleefully emptying the entire can over her body. She felt the oil roll down her body in waves. Her body would provide the fuel for her own pyre. She was hysterical by this point. She was terrified of death and the pain that the fire would bring. She would rather go back to being his wife-slave and suffer everything that he had done to her twice over. Her husband approached her slowly holding a match in his hand. The forest was eerily quiet as if the earth itself was holding its breath. “Happy Birthday,” he whispered. The matchstick flew through the air for a fraction of a second; it’s tiny flame flickering dangerously. Her skin was afire. The pain did not hit her for a brief second and she stared cluelessly before letting out a blood-curling scream. She was melting. Every nerve ending was going through its own nine circles of hell and her brain was fried from the barrage of agony. She screamed and screamed and screamed until her voice failed her. Her only crime: being born a girl. Suddenly there was nothing. The pain vanished. She was not bound by a physical body anymore. She floated in the sky above the body of a limp girl bound to the tree, a tower of terrifyingly beautiful flames consuming her. As the girl’s soul floated above the body she was tempted to give up, to embrace the warmth of the fire. But the soul was a woman and it wasn’t in their nature to accept defeat. She would be back. She wasn’t done with the world just yet.


© Copyright 2017 sanyarunwal. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

More Non-Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by sanyarunwal

ASHES

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Memory of a Face

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Popular Tags