This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 28; the 28th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'BLANK PAGES'.
Arjun looked up from his diary as his wife clicked her tongue impatiently at the dining table. Amused, he silently watched her battle with the task of rolling the pasta. The dough is too thick, he thought, watching her small hands pulling in vain at the rolling machine.
Kusum was a tiny little thing, a mere 5’2’’ before his towering 6’ frame, with a pretty face and small hands and feet. It was always fun for Arjun to watch her in the kitchen; she was inexperienced and timid, cutting her fingers more than often, overcooking the meat, forgetting to seal the stuffing, producing runny custards and so on. But she was highly unpredictable as well; he had tasted more than just exceptional food at her hands.
She just needs to get the hang of cooking, Arjun mused, but it’s whenever I’m around that she messes up the food, he added ruefully as an afterthought.
It was true. Kusum was intimidated by his mere presence which drove her to committing blunders whenever he was around. She was vulnerable and shy, almost pathologically shy, even more so before her handsome husband.
I can’t blame her for being shy, he thought, as after a quick glance at him that confirmed her worries that he was watching her, her fair cheeks blushed pink; I had never done it right from the beginning, he realized bitterly.
Arjun had an arranged marriage like any other guy from a middle-class family in India. Or that was the impression anyone would get from the outside. For that’s what he wished to be most of the time- just some other 29 year old guy with a normal life, with no gruesome past that haunted him at nights…
His fingers absent mindedly reached for the well ruffled page in his notebook, his eyes froze on the date- it was the day everything had started… and everything had come to an end…
28th may, 2001
There was not a single word written on the page, because it was the day he had stopped what he loved doing the most- writing. Since that night, the page of his diary had served only as a blotting paper, soaking every drop of pain he had to shed, erasing all the happiness of his life, making him crouch into darkness, the all consuming darkness…
He had started college like any normal teenager of 18- a bit nervous, a bit excited, a bit tensed to know what was in store for him.
As it turned out, it was the worst of things.
It started with group ragging but while it ended for the other guys of his batch with that one night, it began as a series of similar nights for him.
Day after day for three terrifying years he spent in the fear of what was in store for him later in the night. It never wavered once, only the numbers assaulting him kept increasing.
That one ruthless senior along with his gang mates screwed his life forever- literally and figuratively.
Till the final day when he put his foot down and sealed his ultimate doom.
It started with the usual stuff, the drunken guys staggering into his room and pinning him down to the floor except that he put up a fight that time. He was badly beaten; it seemed to add to their enjoyment, for that’s what he was- their play toy.
It continued till he felt he couldn’t take it any longer and with all his might, he pushed him. What happened after that was still clear in his mind-the senior's body falling against his study table in slow motion, a light thud as the back of his head met the rough jagged corner of it and then silence… complete and utter silence.
Arjun was too dazed to remember what came next; he could just remember everyone rushing away to the hospital, later he came to know that the guy had relapsed into coma.
Then started the more terrifying period of his life, the endless wait accompanied by sheer fear, of when the whole thing would come out and he would be accused for the crime he had never meant to commit. But somehow it never came. What did come were the terrible nightmares. What did reach to him was not the guy’s vindictive gang but greater forces of guilt, fear and seclusion.
He had eaten away every part of him, that unknown senior, left not one but a million holes in every part of his heart, given him not one but a hundred reasons to end his life. And the guilt, that was more overpowering than the sheer loneliness, rotted his insides till it left him hollow and empty.
The entire chapter of incidents had left a deep sense of fear in his heart- he was scared to trust anyone, scared to put his step forward to test anything new in his path because the slap life had awarded him with still resounded in his ears.
His family oblivious to the torturous matters in his life arranged his marriage with a girl from a well-off family and common acquaintances. He couldn’t even put up an inch of resistance; he had no reasons to give them.
He put up a last valiant effort a fortnight before the engagement by pleading to his elder brother “I’m broken Avinash. I can’t let a girl suffer with my screwed up life!”
He regretted it as soon as the words left his mouth, afraid that he will be asked questions he couldn't answer. But instead he patted his shoulder and said quietly “She will heal you Arjun”.
But she never did. Because he never gave her a chance.
Right from the very first night of his wedding when he had shouted “I can’t love you, I can’t live with you!” in frustration, to the endless months that followed, he never gave his wife a chance to peek into the torment he felt every passing moment; the ghosts of his past had gnawed up his present entirely.
But she bore with him; bore with his brooding silences, short outbursts, the mood swings, and his evident ignorance towards her without questioning. This fact made him feel even worse; she didn’t have to suffer with his pain too. And then, one day, all the pent up frustration mingled with alcohol brought out his story from the lips that had swore to remain sealed to the end.
She heard everything with the same calm look on her face and only to the end she came to sit beside him and spoke for the first time that night.
“How come it never came out?”
“The… guy’s brother… who was also in the group… couldn’t afford to bring anything up by slamming a case because they were heavily indulged in drugs and had several other sexual assault cases to their credit” he said bitterly “A case would have meant investigation… and it would have revealed everything… everything…”
“And… what happened to that… guy?”
“They had to pull the plug…” he choked, sobbing again.
She stood up and left, returning with a glass of water and 2 tablets of Disprin. She watched him gulp them down with the same unfathomable expression on his face. As she turned around to leave, Arjun whispered, “Don’t you hate me now?”
She turned surprised, her eyes opening wider than ever at his question.
“It wasn’t your fault!” she said softly “And of course I don’t hate you… I never hated you” then blushing slightly she added “You are my husband”.
She left him with the small glimmer of hope that night, something he hadn’t felt for more than a decade…
Things changed after that, if the subtle difference could be tagged under the dynamic connotation of ‘change’. For the first time in 13 months, Arjun started noticing Kusum. The delicate frame of her body, her tendency to blush whenever he was around, her under confidence in chores like cooking, her timidity with neighbors and her compassion with kids.
He even tried to watch a movie with her, theatre was a failure for she was so intimidated by his proximity that she spilt the soda on him by mistake and sobbed quietly the way back home for ruining his shirt. So they watched movies at home, sitting at the two farthest ends of the couch with her getting up every 15 minutes to get something or the other.
She was like a small, sweet child, shy and unassuming, devoted and caring and seeing her unchanged reaction towards him, Arjun realized that she had accepted him whole heartedly and it would never change for her… it was as if that night of confessions had never happened…
As he looked at her diligently working with the pasta, he felt a sudden rush of affection towards her. It doesn’t need to be the way it is, he thought and glancing back at the blank pages of his diary he felt as if his life had remained barren and colorless for a long time.
He stood and approached the dining space slowly, smiling as he remembered the funny story associated with it. Kusum had always worked at the dining table rather in the kitchen and he couldn’t blame her, it was like a furnace inside. So he fixed a ceiling fan and an electric stove for her along with a chair so that she could work comfortably, feeling pretty proud of himself.
But one day when he was home from work earlier than usual, he found her back at the dining table. His mild irritation was wiped away by the look on her face; she was terrified, terrified like a small child caught stealing sweets. Her cheeks flushed and her nose turned a bright pink as she explained “I… like working here at this table!” almost close to tears. Arjun had nearly laughed, so adorable she had looked fretting over a small thing like that and it took forever for him to console her that he didn’t mind, he wasn’t hurt...
As she saw him approaching her, she turned away quickly, her cheeks flaming red and her hands shaking slightly.
“You need help with that?” Arjun asked, smiling to himself at seeing her reaction.
Ignoring her incomprehensible stammers he said “the dough is too thick, let’s add some water”, their hands touching briefly as he took the mould from her. He looked at her to see her warm brown eyes register surprise and almost reflexively, his hand tightened slightly around her small fingers.
She blushed again, the lovely pink adding to the warmth of her small features, but she didn’t look away, her eyes were singing of almost a fierce happiness.
This is enough for me to live on, he thought, this is enough for me to live for… this is enough to fill the blank pages of my life again…
He looked into the eyes that mirrored his reflection, mingling them with love and awe and he felt that stranger peace embrace him after years.
Slowly and very gently he caressed her soft face before he kissed her lips…
That night, he wrote again…