Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The relief

Saswathi, thirteen years old, was a mentally retarded girl. Gawky in her gait and ungainly in her walk, she was quiet most of the time but went hysterical on occasions. There were long periods when you would not suspect of her disability. She would talk sensibly for hours and ask very pertinent questions. One would not know why she screamed on occasions as the doors to her house were always closed. She had a younger brother who was normal like any other child. Her mother never allowed her to go to the neighbouring houses. But Saswathi knew how to dodge her mom and often escaped to other flats. In many houses she was not welcome. She would pick all things from the show case and butter fingered as she was, would drop them. When something gets broken she would cry inconsolably and plead with the lady of the house not to report to her mother. She would lift her skirt and show the burn marks she received as punishment. It was a pathetic sight for a girl of 13 sobbing like a young kid, wiping her nose with her upper cloth. She would relate with exaggeration to the willing ears how her mother wished that she commit suicide instead of being an embarrassing burden on the family. She would narrate in detail to some of the gossipy neighbours the fights between her parents or about things not usually discussed in public. She was a simpleton unaware of the mean people who encouraged her to talk by their sweet words. She would not cover herself properly and would ask the young boys playing cricket to include her too. Her mother would rush from nowhere and drag her inside after slapping her. It was a regular sight and the boys would hang their heads in pity for the girl when she gets beaten in public.
Her mother used to tell her close friends in the colony that the girl was cunning and not as simple as she appeared to be. She would deliberately scream aloud when she saw some people around her house. She craved for attention and pity from others. On one occasion she went round the colony telling that her mother was dead when she was actually asleep and did not respond to her calls. Schools were not willing to admit her. Her father had no regular income. He kept changing jobs frequently. To make up for the income her mother did odd jobs, taught music to the children in the colony and also undertook tuition for small children. The lady worked hard to make both ends meet. Her husband would stay away from the house for three or four days now and then without informing her. A recluse he never took interest in the family and was not a steady support to his wife.

It was then a young doctor came to live in the same building. A psychiatrist he witnessed the tantrums thrown by this girl intermittently. The mother approached him for help. He became a regular visitor and a sort of family friend. But the girl took a dislike for the doctor and shouted at him to go away. Her irritability became pronounced whenever the doctor was around. She would be put on tranquilizers when things went beyond control. Over a period of time the neighbours were talking in hushed tones that the doctor was seen most afternoons in her house. Whispers were also heard that he was helping the family financially. The neighbours mostly women were jealous of the mother who was fetchingly good looking. The main topic in their gossips would revolve around what was perceived by them as a passionate affair between the doctor and the mother. There was no credence to this except their malicious surmise.

It was a year or two later when one afternoon everybody heard Saswati’s loud screams from the flat. They thought it to be one of her usual bad temper. When the screams became persistent and loud, they rushed to help her but found the doors bolted from inside. Smoke was coming out. Her mother was evidently not there. They shouted back asking the girl to open the doors. When this proved to be of no avail, they broke open the doors. It was too late to save the girl. She died in the hospital that night. It was perhaps a relief both for the girl and her mom. But the incident set the tongues of neighbouring women busy with all sorts of baseless stories. Sympathy for the girl was one ingredient that was missing in their rumour mill.

17 comments:

  1. dear partha,
    you forgot your promise!you told me,the next post will be with happy ending!atleast after the visit of the doctor,the girl could have been made normal.
    it's easy to kill the characters!try to give them life and like us you will also enjoy!
    and let's show care n concern to the less previlaged as they are the special children of GOD!
    happy blogging.........
    sasneham,
    anu

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  2. Feel good stories does not leave a lasting impact as some stories like this that invoke sympathy.
    You know that pretty well, dont you sir? :)

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  3. nice story tears the mask of grapevining monsters.

    @ Anupama

    Life is not all that rosy my dear frnd, see the impact it had you. You wouldn't have had such impact if the story had a happy ending as we always want, which in reality doesnt happen.

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  4. dear venky,
    come on ,now!MY GOD!do u think,i have a notion of life as a bed of roses?never!to be frank,when i started loving life more than anything,i want the whole world ,with all my dear friends like you smile and look at the bright side of life!
    enough of tears,enough of low feelings,please,i need a break!
    you'll never realise!as there are miles between us with a rough and tough road to bridge the gap......
    so,please don't stop me if i expect a happy ending........[atleast my dreams won't be taxed,nah?]:D
    sasneham,
    anu

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  5. no i dont think you have a notion that life is a bed of roses. What i say is all stories cant have the happen endings. sorry if i hurt your feelings.

    as a famous tamil song goes "if whatever you desire in life happens, then there is no God, if you always desire what is happening there is no sorrow in life"

    again different people have different views, i am from this school of thought

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  6. dear venky,
    yes,you said it.all stories can't have happy endings;similar way all stories can't have tragic endings.partha had promised me a story with happy ending this time.that was between us.right?
    and venky,you have not hurt my feelings.and to be honest,my feelings were hurt long back very often;but not by you.so,anu is used to all sort of reactions!
    thanks for the tamil quote........i loved it...
    i don't belong to any school of thoughts.
    ''Don't go the way life takes you
    but take the life the way you go.
    Remember you are born to live;
    and not living because you are born.....''
    so,venky,frineds?
    sasneham,
    anu

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  7. @anupama

    ya friends for sure

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  8. Beautiful story... Touched my heart...

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  9. Venky and anupamas dialogues seem to gather more attention than the story..lol, im kidding...the story somehow left me puzzled and wondering!!

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  10. Good one. Very realistic and quite a common thread in neighbourhoods especially-the grapevine gossip. The tendency to make a mountain of a molehill seems to be a favourite pass time for such people. Its surprising how creative juices are seen flowing in the most unproductive mannner depleting humanity altogether. Wonder why such folks dont get into novel writing at times.

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  11. Your stories r opening a gr8 platform for debate:) Congrats..that means the story was a hit!!!!

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  12. Namaste....
    This story speaks of neglect and abuse. The mother was overwhelmed with her life, saddled with a husband that often abandoned her and was not a good provider. In her efforts to take care of herself and her children she often took her frustrations out on her daughter who multiple disabilities added to her burden to the degree that she then became part of the problem instead of the solution. The community at large did nothing and condoned by their lack of assistance the continued abuse of this child by her parents. The community in essence became part of the problem instead of part of the solution. The mother in her own inept way tried to protect her daughter by keeping her locked away from the ridicule and public distain but by keeping her in she isolated the child terribly which added to the child’s trauma as she longed for human interaction but sadly lacked social skills due to the continual seclusion.

    It’s a sad story one that puts the blame not only squarely on the parents shoulders but also on the community who failed not only the child but the whole family as well because they preferred to wag their tongues than lend a hand to someone in need.

    Great story, sad story, all too familiar a story.

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  15. on second reading, the story could have been ended well.. a lil more better..

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