Chapter 4 [Bruises and Scars]
Sometimes, it’s just you, finding light in a dark moonless night, finding your own stars to guide you through the way, finding your own inner self which you lost track of years ago.
He was sitting beside me. Why? I couldn’t point a finger at the reason which served his purpose. Was he really here to apologise? Or was he here to play me around like the other girls?
I know I am bad at reading faces, but that doesn’t make me dumb. I heard those whistles and I know he must be here due to stupid bets they place. As much naïve I may appear, I do know how to tackle the likes of him. And it wouldn’t be the first time.
I heard those whispers. I heard everything. Those sly comments they passed about me. I never knew that they could think like that about me. I heard a guy planning to play me around, as if I would have let him. I will never dare to let someone in, and these idiots were thinking to have an upper hand on me. I am not a fool to showcase my emotions. I am never going to be as vulnerable as so anyone can take my advantage. I know he is here to toy me. And I know how to stand for myself. I will be damned in hell if I let him succeed.
I don’t know why I am subjected to all this. I never asked for anything like this. I never asked for attention. All I had ever wanted was to have a real friend. A friend who wouldn’t judge me for being myself, but I didn’t get even anything as remote as a friend.
Sometimes, I pity myself for being so full of shit. At other times, I can’t help but curse my fate. Those are the days when I am down, and those are common. Those are the days, I feel helpless, lost and alone and frustrated at my socializing skills. I pity myself for not being able to confide into someone.
Ugh. It’s like going through the same thing again and again. I have been here hundreds of times and I have thought about every possible thing. To this day, I always end up with the same conclusion and console myself saying that I am capable of being the girl I am. I make myself believe that I have the perfect life and everything is fine. But deep down inside I know that my life is far from being perfect. I know that I can’t keep up this charade anymore. This ‘cool, collected and indifferent’ façade of mine will break anytime now. It’s been a long time since I rattled myself hard and threw those traitorous thoughts out of my mind and body too. It always surprises me so as to how I come floating up even after convincing myself that I had been hanging on to the last straw previously. But then, I realize that maybe I am a survivor. Maybe every misery has finally come to an end and things do get better. As unfortunate as I am, that lasts for just a few days and then everything is back to square one. I end up at the very place I started.
“Adi… “, his voice brought me out of my reverie.
I totally forgot that he was here beside me.
“Yeah….” I answered.
“So … how’s it going..?” he inquired.
Time to show my skills.
It has been a week since I last conversed with him. He isn’t much bad of a person. I have realized that everyone has his own faults, and he has some too. But that doesn’t make him a bad person. I know it sounds weird coming from my mouth. I was the one against him till a few days ago and today I am defending him. People change.
I had judged him wrong. He wasn’t going to play me, instead he came to warn me about those guys. I couldn’t believe it at first but when I saw care and sincerity on his face, I knew he was serious.
Enough about him. I have to study for the upcoming tests. I have completed more than half of the syllabus, and there are still two weeks left for the test, but I am planning on being prepared a week ago. That way, I don’t have to stress myself during the tests.
I checked my schedule and found that I have Physics next. That’s good. I love studying Physics. All you have to do is read the theory, learn deriving the formula and BAM. You can easily solve the numericals. It isn’t at all hard. I can’t comprehend why everyone in my class hates Physics. And if they hate Physics, then why study it? Duffers.
I reached home and found that my mother had left for her mother’s house with my brother. I was left alone with my father. It was the thing I dreaded the most. Being with him alone. I crossed my fingers praying again and again that I might save myself today in any possible way. But there was a little part of me which knew that I won’t be spared today. Today, he has got a chance and he won’t miss it for the love of his life.
I proceeded towards my room and started doing my homework. It won’t cost me much time to do my work. Once he is here, he won’t let me study. He won’t let me be myself.
I had enough now. I can’t let this happen anymore. No. I can’t bear it. The pain is turning unbearable day by day. And this pain has ruined me. I can’t do anything. I feel helpless.
Tears slid down my cheeks. That’s what they usually do. They roll down and fall on the ground leaving me broken and vulnerable.
I don’t fathom why he does this to me.
I don’t have that fearlessness in me anymore to see myself in the mirror. Those wounds and unhealed bruises and scars splinter every bit of me. They smash my courage to smithereens and blow me apart. I have done every possible thing to circumvent his ire and fury but my every effort is futile and unproductive. Seems like I am stuck on to the same wheel. And everything is moving in circles.
Last night was the most horrendous one. I still remember those words he flung at me and those atrocities I was subjected to. I was still crying when the landlady came in the morning and fed me herself. She knows about it. She knows about everything that my father does and she has told me a million times that I should stand up and do something but I always ignore her. She has threatened me that she will do something herself but I always manage to prohibit her from taking any action.
She always questions my behaviour. She is the only one beside me and my father who knows what happens with me in the confinement of four walls of my room. Even my own mother is unaware about the brutalities, barbarities and viciousness I am imperilled to. But she has been my mother, she has been the one to nurse and tend to my wounds. She is the one giving me inspiration and a reason to strive.
“It’s enough Adi, I can’t see you like this anymore. I count you as my own daughter and it maims me to see you hurting inside and on the outside too.”
Her voice brought me out of my hazy contemplation. I kept mum knowing too well that it is the mother in her who is agonizing over the barbarism her daughter is facing.
“Its high time you tell your mother about it. She will definitely do something regarding It.”, she said crying.
“No, Aunty, you know I can’t tell her or anyone. He won’t appreciate it. I can’t.”, it was my consistent reply. We always had this conversation and I always say the same thing.
“Adi, just let us in. Please. It’s not like things will always be like this. Let someone in and see magic work in front of your very own eyes.” she snivelled.
I let her pour her heart out. She cried and sobbed touching my wounds. She expressed her concerns and worries and I felt good knowing that if no one else, then she was certainly there for me.
After an hour and a half of sniffing and sobbing she finally calmed down.
“Come, let’s get you to bed. I know you haven’t slept a wink last night, so no debates.” she ordered in her own motherly tone.
She made me rest my head on her lap and caressed my hair singing me my favourite lullaby.
I closed my eyes as a reflex and leaned into her soothing touch. Her voice was like a melody to me. My eyes started welling up realizing that my own mother never showed so much concern for me. True, she loved me as much as she loved my brother but I never felt so cared and loved in her presence.
“Adi, hear me out… just this once”
Agh. Why won’t he leave me alone? I didn’t come to school for two days and now he is after me asking me the reason of my absence. As if I am gonna tell him. As if I am going to trust him with my black secrets. I know he truly cares for me. I know he looks after me and stands up for me. And I know it too that all this is not because he likes me or something like that, but because he is good at heart. He isn’t fake like others but I can’t tell him, I can’t let him in.
“Thank God, you stopped. I never would have caught up to you. And I never took you for a sprinter.” he heaved catching his breath.
In my constant contemplation, I didn’t realize I had stopped walking.
“Adi, Will you please tell me what happened? You are extraordinarily off since you got here.” he stated.
“I am not in the mood to talk. Go away.” I snapped and turned around to go.
He sighed but caught my wrist causing me to hiss. He dropped my hand abruptly and interrogated, “What happened? Are you hurt?”
“No.” I said way too early for my own good.
He didn’t believe me. Instead he tried to find out the truth himself. He held my wrist carefully and pulled the band. I closed my eyes knowingly. I couldn’t stop him now. And it wasn’t the first time, he would see my wounds. He has seen them twice or thrice but I always make some excuse and save myself.
“Why?” was all he asked before his eyes welled up. Was he crying for me? But why?
“Hey, it’s nothing… just a bruise.” I said trying to cheer him.
“Yeah. Just a bruise. Why don’t you let someone in, Adi? It won’t hurt you as much as this hurts.” he opined touching my wrist and a tear fell down his cheek.
Why is everyone hell bent on making me feel more miserable than I currently am?
“You don’t need to worry. It’s just a small wound. It’ll heal within a few days and I’ll be fine as always.” I informed him.
“You are not fine always. Instead, you aren’t fine at all. It’s just your act. Even when you say you are good, you are hurting inside. Even when you smile, you are crying inside. Even
when you say you need to be alone, you are cursing loneliness inside. Even…”
“Stop. Don’t say anything. Leave me alone Piyush. Please. I beg you.” I bawled. He can’t go on. I won’t be able to stop myself from tearing up. Listening all those things from someone else made me feel lower. It’s good to know that there is someone who can read your expressions but at this moment I don’t feel like going gaga over the fact that he knows me way too well for my liking.
He sighed wiping his tears and continued, “Being alone won’t solve your problems. Instead discussing them with someone who truly cares will ease your difficulties.” And with that, having had the last say, he went away.
I too hurried towards my class only to hear him screaming, “Try it once and see what happens.”
I darted towards the counsellor’s room. As soon as I entered the room I bolted the door. The counsellor glanced at me and I greeted her. I have been seeing her since a year now. I come here whenever I feel low. She advises me how to tackle my problems. But even now, I haven’t shared everything with her. She just knows that I have limited friends and I don’t talk much. Every day, when she meets me, she asks me how my day was and I just ignore her. She has been trying to make me open up. But I do nothing like that. I wouldn’t be here if it were not for the promise aunty took from me.
“How are things going, honey?” she asked as soon as I sat in front of her.
“As usual, everything sucks. My life is f**ked up.” I replied honestly.
“Don’t worry kiddo, we’ll sort it out. Everything will be fine.” She cajoled.
“No. Nothing’s gonna be fine. I am fed up now.” I said, my eyes welling up stimulating those horrific incidents.
“Nothing is impossible sweetheart. All what matters is the amount of hard work you put in.”
“I am tired of trying. Tired of changing myself. Tired of being ordered around. It is as if I can’t even breathe without his permission.” That was it. I broke down. In front of her. I cried hard recalling all those memories my not so sweet or loving father gifted me. And she hugged me caressing my hair. She whispered words I couldn’t comprehend.
“Adi, speak up honey. Don’t bottle up your emotions.” She insisted.
When I didn’t speak, she continued, “Sweetheart, hemming in your emotions is never going to help you.”
“So I should stand on a dais and put my emotions on display. Right?” I retorted.
“No honey, you just have to unburden your heart to someone. You can do that. You have to trust someone with yourself.”
“I can’t trust anyone with my dark secrets.” I countered.
“Baby, you can if you want to. It contingents on you and your efforts.”
“That’s what I am saying. I don’t want to initiate anything. I don’t want to try. ‘Cause I am f**king fed up of trying on my own. I am exasperated of being the one who puts in numerous endeavours but gets zilch.” I barked, got up wiping my tears and stomped out of the room.
It ended as usual, with me banging the door and she flinching at the sound trying to determine tactics which she will use on me the next time.
“Mammals possess muscular diaphragm which separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity.” Ms. Ann, our biology teacher, said. She is lecturing us about the characteristics of mammals. I can’t concentrate on what she is saying. Apparently, my mind is busy evaluating my life history and studying mammalian characteristics isn’t much of an interesting topic to divert my mind from its usual job.
“They show parental care.” She continued completely oblivious to the torments and anguish I am enduring due to her words. Parents have always been a sensitive issue to me.
”Class Mammalia is divided into three subclasses, i.e. Prototheria, Metatheria and…”
I can’t bear it anymore.
“Excuse me Miss” I interrupted her before she could complete her sentence. One thing you need to remember about Ms. Ann is that she doesn’t like being interrupted during her lectures.
“Yes, Aditi.” She asked seeing it was me who dared to intrude her lecture.
“Can I go to the washroom?” I pleaded.
She must have seen it in my eyes because she permitted me to go outside. I smiled at her thanking her internally a gazillion times and headed out.
The class was eerily silent. That’s because it’s a first. I mean the first time she didn’t shout or punish someone who disturbed her lecture and even let that someone go out.
“Adi.” His voice greeted me as soon as I stepped in the library. I know I had asked Ms. Ann to let me go to the washroom but that was just an excuse. I wanted to be alone and our school library is the perfect definition of loneliness. But seems like fate has decided to play tricks on me today.
I tried to ignore him. Keyword being ‘tried to’, but failed. How could I think that I’ll be left in peace today? I sighed and pulled out a book from the bookshelf. “‘Why didn’t they ask
Evans?’ by ‘Agatha Christie’ “it read. It was a murder mystery. The book cover seemed intimidating, so I decided to read it.
“Adi. I need a favour.” He told me while I arranged my chair.
“Hmm.” I replied.
“Tomorrow is my birthday….”
Why was he telling me about his birthday? I didn’t ask him.
“I have kept a party at my home….” He trailed off waiting for me to catch his hint.
I could see where this was going. He will now ask me to be the designated driver and drive those drunkards home at late night. Why would I risk myself for underage driving?
“So?” I asked irritated. I never thought he would ask me to do this.
“Will you come to my party?” he enquired making me look at him. He was inviting me to his party? “Please Adi. Just this time. It’s my birthday tomorrow.” He added when I didn’t reply.
I can’t go. Dad won’t allow me.
‘Sorry, I won’t be able to make it.’ I wanted to say, but he didn’t let me. Instead he started rambling.
“Please Adi. Please. Please. Pretty please with a cherry on the top. Please.” He pleaded as if his life depended on my presence.
“Alright.” It sounded way too eccentric for my league. I myself don’t know why I agreed. Maybe due to his persistence or maybe because I was feeling low today.
“Really?” he asked astounded at my answer. But from the look I gave him, he gathered that I was serious.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. You don’t have an idea how happy I am right now.” He blethered gleefully.
“Calm down Piyush.” I told him when I saw the librarian glaring daggers at him for not being silent in the library. I don’t want to be in her bad books.
“Sorry.” he smiled sheepishly realizing the whole situation.
She agreed. I am so damn happy. I couldn’t believe my own ears when she acquiesced to come.
I went home in a joyful and jaunty mood.
When mom saw the goofy grin plastered on my face, she was eager to know the reason behind my gleeful disposition.
“What made you smile like a lovesick teenager who just f**ked his girlfriend?” she asked jovially. There is nothing which will make her behave like an ordinary mother. She is always rapt about cursing and swearing in front of me. Ostensibly, my parents have a notion of acting like teenagers. I ignored her words and replied, “Adi.”
“What? You talked to her? What did she say?” she asked cheerfully. Presumably, mom is more excited than me to know about Adi.
“I invited her to the party and she agreed.” I answered grinning from ear to ear. I can’t get that smile off my face. Since the moment she assented, my brain settled with the decision of making me smile all day.
“Really.” She asked like I had asked Adi. That’s where I get my cheerful side from.
“Yup.” I said eating the pancake she had made for me. I have to say that she makes scrumptious pancakes.
“That’s wonderful. Tell me what I should get for her. What does she like to eat? Which genre of music she likes?” she rattled off flinging numerous questions at me.
“What’s going on? Who are you talking about? And Piyush why the hell are you smiling like a f**king idiot?” he asked as he entered the kitchen. That’s what I was saying. Both of them talk like teenagers who just learned a few curses using them in every sentence possible.
“Oh honey, Adi is coming here tomorrow.” Mom told him.
“Really?” he asked with a smile similar to mine appearing on his face.
“Yup.” Mom answered copying my words and actions too.
“That’s freaking wonderful.” He exclaimed.
“Yeah.” I answered trying to fit in.
“I am proud of you, son. You finally took an initiative. You have honoured your father.” He said patting my back.
“Hmm.” I grunted disinterested and concentrated on eating my pancake going back to my happy mood.
They both yakked about the preparations of my birthday and I just tuned them out.
“Dad, tomorrow’s my friend’s birthday.” I hesitated before going on. He was sober today so I thought to ask him. He acknowledged my presence and that made me continue, “Can I go?” I asked meekly.
“Yeah.” He answered robotically.
“Really dad?” I asked excitedly.
Seeing my enthusiasm, he smiled a little and nodded in affirmative. I leapt at him hugged him tight.
“Thank you dad. Thank you so much.” I said still hugging him.
“That’s alright.” He spoke detaching himself from me.
I took it as my cue to leave. I turned around when he called my name “Aditi, here take this.” He verbalized handing me a few notes of thousand.
“But dad, I don’t need this.” I told him truthfully.
“You planning on going to a birthday party empty-handed?” he teased putting those notes in my hand.
“Oh. Thanks dad.”
He ruffled my hair, a ghost of a smile forming on his face.
I moved towards my room unable to process all what happened. He agreed easily. I didn’t need to plead or beg him. That was bizarre.
This chappy is for you guys
Aparna, Jessie, Sammy, Zaimal, Sweetie, Shruthis and all the silent readers [ if there are any ]
I just want to tell you guys that it has been hard to post this chapter due to situtations here in J&K. so, next time pls don’t be mad when I don’t reply or don’t post chapters regularly.
Though your comments do encourage me but they make me feel bad for not acceding to your wishes. I feel bad I can’t return back the love and support you guys provide.
Until next time.
Stay healthy. Happy. And blessed.
Credit to: anu-annie