I stand before the familiar door, with trepidation in my heart. The toran of cheap plastic marigolds, in garish mustard and orange, the ones you had put up last Diwali, fails to extend its welcome to me. I’m back but I don’t feel like the prodigal daughter. Is it because I’m here not of my own volition but because of your call? It took you a hundred and eighty seven days. I know. I’ve counted.
How did you restrain yourself? You who would call me three times daily just to ensure I’d eaten. Or knew when I needed to hear your voice to lift me up. Maybe it was vice versa as you always assured me. I don’t lift up your mood, anymore. Not since the day I let you down. When I decided to follow my heart, I knew I was going to shatter yours.
The door opens. You seem different. Shrunken. Less. As if I took a part of you with me when I left. You don’t smile or hug me. Only an imperceptible nod, an invitation to enter. You’d declared me a stranger when I announced I was marrying Aakash and strangers don’t deserve your love.
I put my bags in my room. The clink of porcelain on the marble table surface announces that tea is ready. When I come out, the tea cup stands there, forlorn. You are missing from the room, just like your warmth.
You didn’t tell me I’d lost weight, your invariable greeting. Or that my frizzy hair needs oiling. I long for a hug and old times. When I would sit at your feet and your deft fingers weaved through my tresses with warm coconut oil. Our laughter and chatter would fill the room like dust mites sparkling in the evening sunlight.
What had I expected? That returning would erase the last six months, the recriminations forgiven and forgotten? Forgiveness and acceptance take time, sometimes years. You are stubborn, not given to forgiveness, and my crime, unforgivable for you. Dinner is a sad affair, bitter with the flavour of unsaid reprobation. My room is a refuge and sleep is a relief.
Each fibre of my body screams at me to wake up. I can’t breathe! I gasp for air. Someone is smothering me! I flail my hands and try to fight but then they recognize the fingers holding the pillow. The ones which have always weaved through my curls so lovingly.
A parent’s love for his child is unconditional. But sometimes love bows down before honour. As women we learn to smother our desires and aren’t children our greatest ones?
It is ironic that you, who gave me life, is also taking it away. Someone once told me that Maa and Mrityu are the only absolute truths on this earth. Today I have found both in you.
Toran – decoration put up at the main door to welcome guests, good luck and Goddess Lakshmi
Maa – mother
Mrityu – death
Disclaimer: This story is a fictionalised account of what happens behind many honour killings. It is inconceivable to me how parents, who lovingly raise children to adulthood get so angry at the same child’s choice to live a life according to his or her own dictat. When I had read of this incident it had left a deep imprint upon me. The story is inspired from this real life incident. The death was eventually ruled a suicide.
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