Darkness was dancing in the corners of my vision. Wind was whipping my hair. Cold was coaxing its way into the breeze. Tears were pooling in my eyes. Pebbles were slipping into my thin slippers and adding a sharp pain to my feet.  The open sky, bushes and mountains were my only solace. With no energy in my limbs, I settled under a tree surrounded by the hilly terrain, sans the nightmares but with my soul beating.

I kept gazing at the moon admiring its beauty. ‘Ridden with potholes, it is still an eye-catcher’, I thought. It was serene with just whistling of winds and the sound of leaves enjoying the wind reaching through my ears. Blurred images of lights were seen emanating faraway from here. My eyes were equally tired just as my limbs. All I wanted was a peaceful sleep, which is something that I got easily although after years.

I woke up to the melodious chirping of the birds. Even the caw-caw of the crow felt music to ears. I stretched my arms with a tinge of smile on my face. The expression that was dead suddenly became alive. My back ached and I still felt the burning sensation of ‘hurt’ that has decided to dwell on me. Amid the warmth of early morning sun with hunger pangs signalling my brain, I wandered in search of food.

The terrain proved to be a real tough one for me. I walked and walked with beads of perspiration forming all over my body. I picked up pace. Many trees with various fruits hanging passed by. I didn’t know where I was heading but wherever I could find my way through the trees and the mountains. Slowly, I found myself running. I could hear the crushing sound of dead leaves following me. I feared looking back. Suddenly the sound was gone. I still feared looking behind but tried to swirl around quickly and have a look. No one was there. I stood there, circling and looking in all directions. Satisfied, I lay under one of the trees, plucked some fruits and heaved a sigh of relief.

The rest of the day went smoothly without any troubles.

The next morning same thing happened. I ran and ran, more than yesterday. My slippers had given away and so had my toes and limbs. It was getting extremely difficult now. I was panting heavily but still continued running. Finally with no energy left, I fainted.

My eyes opened to see an old fan rotating and screeching in between. I turned my neck only to find myself attached with wires and surrounded with machines. It dawned on me that I was in some nursing home.

‘How are you madam’? The nurse asked.

I was confused with volley of questions popping in my mind.

My silence made her to say that my husband brought me here. Panic gripped me from within but I didn’t allow it to show on my face. She asked me to lay here till she called for my husband.

For a moment I thought of running away but couldn’t due to wires attached all over me. I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer to give me enough strength to fight against all odds. ‘This cannot happen to me. From being so close of acquiring freedom and yet far’, I said to myself. I decided to tell the nurse to call the police and tell them everything.

A tall, well built man with a moustache stood along with the nurse in front of me.

‘This is not him!’ My eyes went bigger in shock. He came besides me, ran his hand over my forehead and inquired about my health.

Tears rolled down my eyes as he helped me to get up. I kept silent. No one has shown such affection towards me in recent times. Was I dreaming?  

With apprehensions and questions galore I walked with him. He took me to his home but for me it seemed like a palace. Small, clean and elegant. He offered a chair to sit and went inside only to come out within few minutes with a tray full of biscuits and tea. Before I could attack him with my questions, he did.

A lot of things were there inside waiting to be released. Initially I thought of concentrating on biscuits but with his constant prodding I broke.

It all started two years back when I got married. Once a darling of my parents’ eye now reduced to a slut. Such was the tragedy of my life. From getting married to a stranger, on being a ‘display item’ to his friends, to being labelled as a town whore, I had come a long way, quite literally – To the ever so beautiful, never seen, other end of the universe.

“Everything looks beautiful to a person whose life is only confined to be at home, cook and ‘entertain’ people. From being a caged bird, I felt like a free bird here.”

Sometimes from his harsh words, beating or slapping, my soul died a slow death. His words, ‘Hadn’t your parents greased my palms, I would have married someone whose face didn’t resemble that of a coal, and body, a bag of bones’, pierced me in such a way as if a poisonous arrow has pierced through my body. Neither did he like me nor did he love me. I was just a piece of flesh left to be obeyed and served on various beds, satisfying the carnal needs.

Once I had tried to object by raising my voice and he landed a tight slap on my face. The impact was such that my mouth tasted blood as two teeth gave away. I was naive initially waiting for him to embrace me, love me and show some affection but this incident woke me up and I decided to run away from this life as I simply didn’t deserve this.

“What is my fault? Just that I am black and not good looking? Or that I expected him to love me just as people do after an arranged marriage? I do obey his commands all against my wishes, treat him respectfully and still? Whatever it is, I cannot let my life get ruined and henceforth will take charge of My Life.”

Thus mustering thrice the amount of courage normally required, I ran away.

With every word and every sentence my heart felt lighter. But tears kept on rolling down my eyes, initially a few drops to sobbing to crying profusely. My already red eyes started hurting me.

My heart experienced the much needed warmth and peace when he wiped my tears away and hugged me. It felt like heaven to be wrapped under the warmth and masculine shoulders of his. He kept patting my back and head as if he is consoling some child. Yes, for a minute even I felt like a child too! Though my looks may not agree with my heart but it will be always a child from within.

Form patting to exploring to kissing to enjoying each other’s naked body, nothing was left. We lay there still for few minutes. Tears started welling in my eyes but I didn’t let it flow.

What have I done? Will he just use me as a paper napkin? Will I be back to square one? Will I ever find Love in its pure essence? Questions had taken over my mind when he suddenly came close to me, tugged my soft tendril of curls behind my ears and said, ‘I want to marry you. To see life through your eyes, have kids, share a bond such that even HE wouldn’t dare to break and have a new beginning for both of us,  ’

I didn’t know whether this was for real or not. Was my life going to take a turn? Will I get to shed those horrendous tags that I have got? Or will it acquire the tag of ‘happily married forever’?
My heart was in my mouth. Unable to judge his intentions but with the anticipation of new dawn I agreed to marry him.
Destiny's Child

In her soft and sleepy voice she said, “Mamma, will you please stop staring at the fan. Your two kids, one of which I call Papa, needs you and are trying to sleep.”

I immediately come back from the shadows of dark and within a second both of them curl up towards me and hugs me tight with smiles all over. Wishing each other good night, I wait with open arms to embrace life to the dawn of happiness and only happiness.

This post has been written for the ongoing Indian Bloggers League conducted by Writeup Cafe