The Light to Her Shadows

 The Light to Her Shadows

‘Where there are shadows, can the light be far behind?’ Atul’s words boomeranged through Chitra’s senses punctuating the marigold redolence storming through her olfactory. Her neighbour and classmate, Atul had been a silent sentinel to her fragmented heart for as long as she could remember.

Chitra’s life had been an uphill battle, cementing her place in a patriarchal household with two older brothers. Her covenant desire to study further trampled upon by her father’s dominion resulted in her marriage to Ram as soon as she turned 18. That was five years ago.

Her marital life had been a chasm of despondency from the beginning itself. Ram was far from the celestial revered being he was named after. Right from the first night he exerted his conjugal rights. Chitra had hoped for understanding, sharing, and companionship but was met with disappointment.

“You bitch…” Ram had yelled on the second night after remaining unsatisfied despite leaving behind a traumatised Chitra writhing in pain. “… I have been fooled. You know nothing… I shouldn’t have married you.” 

Chitra preferred being berated for unsatisfactory housework during the day, than to returning to the confines of her bedroom at night where an usually inebriated Ram lay in wait to debauch her soul. 

She once visited her maternal home two months after the marriage. Her mother held her close and wept seeing her daughter a shell of her former self, Chitra’s body riddled with evidence of her abuse at the hands of her husband. 

“Maa, I can’t take it anymore…” Chitra had wailed holding her mother tightly.

“No bitiya…” her mother remarked in horror. “… now Ram’s house is your home. Ram is your everything. You should… please him. If you do then you will be happy throughout your life…” 

Atul had left the area plunging her world further into the dark abyss. 

A year later, Ram almost strangulated her and the neighbours intervened to get her back to her maternal home. Her father didn’t want to press charges and Chitra agreed as well for the acrimonious divorce. 

Something must be wrong with their daughter… people talked.

Atul returned after 2 years and proposed marriage. 

This is what happens when the husband disowns you… poor girl has no choice…  harsh voices droned on around.

The pirouetting of the nylon curtains shook her out of her reverie. Time had flown and ebbed ever since she had discovered herself at 16. Only Atul was privy to her secret. She blinked back tears inhaling the earthy fragrance of her flame-red ‘mehendi’ resembling the fire in her heart. 

She was asexual, absolutely uninterested in intimacy of any kind and Atul was her saviour in the hypocritic world that considered her orientation blasphemous. 

“You are my light, Atul…” Chitra said later in their decorated bedroom, easing him into his specially equipped bed.

“I wish I could do more, Chitra, but being a widow will entail freedom compared to being a divorcee.”

She held his hands and sobbed.

Atul was terminally ill.
Author notes: (source: Google)
Asexual people may not experience sexual attraction to others. They may also: 

  • Not be interested in sex
  • Not develop crushes
  • Not be stimulated by erotic content
  • Prioritize personality over looks
  • Feel left out from conversations about sex and relationships
  • Not experience sexual arousal
  • Feel that someone is attractive but not be attracted to them

The first line of the story was taken from Lalitha Ramanathan’s story titled: Master of the Shadows.
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Priya Nayak-Gole
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