A small scene from a novel that I am currently working on.
It was a dark night. Tripti looked around, and even though she had been sitting on a roadside boundary block for a while now and her eyes must have adjusted to the dark, she couldn’t make anything out. It was a moonless night, and that was no help.
She wasn’t afraid; she was much too shocked to be afraid. Sumesh had been gone for about ten minutes, although Tripti had no way of knowing this. She was not wearing any watch.
There were no cars on the road, and even if she were to see one, she didn’t know what she’d do.
Asking for a lift at three at night isn’t really an option for a woman, she told herself.
“Sumesh will be back,” she mused, aloud. “He has to be back. He won’t leave me here all night. Would he?”
“Sure, he will,” said a voice in the back of her head, but she pushed it down.
She got up, and started walking in the direction of her – or rather, Sumesh’s – home. After taking a few steps, she stopped.
What was the use? she asked herself. Sumesh won’t let me in anyway.
She turned around, but was hesitant to head on. The road led to the bus stand. If she could get there, she could take a bus to her mother’s place. But then what?
He’ll come back…
By the time she reached Sumesh’s home, daylight was about to break. Sumesh had dropped her an hour away on foot, but it had taken her more than that. She had been stopping occasionally, mostly, to cry her eyes out. On the way, she had seen a car whiz by her, but she had kept her head down. The car had stopped a few metres ahead, driven backwards, and the windows had opened. A head had popped out and a man had said, in a very sleazy way, “How much for a shot?” Tripti had hurled abuses, but that hadn’t been enough; she had to hurl one of her shoe at the car.
Now, standing outside the door, she tried to forget all that, and rang the bell.
No one answered.
“Sumesh, open the door, please,” she whispered.
She sat down on the cold ground. Her hand went to her face, and she felt it had swelled a bit now. She hoped that her neighbours won’t notice her sitting around. She knew that soon people would start walking the streets, getting exercise before heading on to work. She just hoped that Sumesh would let her in before that.
She felt she did not have anyone to blame but herself for her predicament. Sumesh had asked her to make a cup of tea, before he went to bed. She had been feeling sick, and had refused. And then it had started.
She remembered being thrown on the floor. She had felt a sharp pain in her belly, a few times, before she realised Sumesh was kicking her. The kicks were followed by a barrage of punches to her face, like a combo right out of a video game.He had picked her up by the hair, and thrown her on the bed. She had been prepared for all of it, but not for the kick. It had been the first time he had kicked. Normally, he would only punch or slap. Kicking had been where he drew the line. Not anymore, apparently.
She had cried, and had tried to fight back. At least that is how she remembered it.
She felt her belly and it was sore. At least she wasn’t pregnant. Sumesh had put her on a pill, and she felt it was for the best. If she had a child, it would have died, or would have been deformed.
She recalled how she had uttered muffled cries. She did not want the neighbours to know. Not that they would do anything, like call the police, but she did not want to feel embarrassed when she’d meet them the next day. Sumesh had dragged her to the kitchen, and made her turn on the gas stove. She was sure he would burn her hand or, worse, her face, but he only forced her to make tea. And as she had put a pan with water on the flamed, he had kicked her butt. And then she had felt a punch on the back of her head. That had been her breaking point.
She had turned off the stove, and turned around, filled with anger. “I’m going to go back to my mother’s home,” she had shouted, only to hear a maniacal laugh.
“Even if I let you, how would you do that, you bitch?” he had asked.
Tripti had been too distraught to come up with a reply. She had sat down, and had felt another kick on her leg. Sumesh had left the room, only to return back, with the keys of his scooter in his hands.
“Come, I will drop you there. You always say you will leave, but you never do. I don’t want you here, any more, whore.”
He had led her to her scooter, dragging her by her arm. She had begged him to at least let her pickup her dupatta, but he hadn’t stopped.
They had driven for a while, and then suddenly, he had stopped, in the middle of nowhere.
“Get down,” he had yelled, his voice ringing around in the dark.
“Here?” she had asked, slowly.
“Yes,” he had replied, and she had got down without any further resistance.
And now, as she was back at his door step, she felt rather silly. He had beaten her, kicked her, called her a whore, and still she was here, wanting to be taken back inside. But what choice did she have?
Tripti had told her sister her ordeal a few weeks ago, and of course Karuna had been supportive. She had been furious, and had even started on her way to Tripti and Sumesh’s place. But Tripti had stopped her. She had promised Karuna that the next time Sumesh laid his hand on her, she would just leave him. But since then he had beaten her, raped her, and here she was.
Going back to her mother’s place wasn’t really an option – she had just said that too piss Sumesh off. Her mother was old, and she was barely living by herself. Tripti did not have a job, and she had no way of getting one anytime soon. What would she do, without Sumesh to support her? This thought often tormented her.
And this was not the first time she was thinking these things. It had almost become a routine for her: getting battered and then thinking of her options.
Amidst her thoughts, she got up and knocked again. No answer.