The Letter of Mrs. X She was marred by loneliness so I had gone to stay with her for a couple of days. With a pristine white shawl negligently thrown across her shoulders, she sat by the window of her apartment on that fateful day, listlessly gazing at the dusk-laden sky. The furrowed eyebrows and horrifying pallor of her face accentuated the eerie silence of the house. That was the last day, I saw her alive. Who am I? It doesn’t matter. You can call me Ms. X, the sister of deceased Mrs. X. I say X not to protect our identities but because we have none. This is no story so I apologize for thwarting the hopes of all who were eyeing this piece expectantly. In the most unpretentious terms, it is the suicide note she had tucked under her pillow before bidding adieu to the world. I haven’t told about it to the family. As if they would care. I have read it once. I am reading it again for the ones who haven’t left their laptop screens, showering curses on me. After that I intend to tear it into shreds and dump it in the dustbin- the place it rightfully belongs. You ask why? Listen to the letter patiently and you will get to know. If possible don’t interrupt me in between as I am sitting on the terrace and the weather has suddenly become unruly. Thunderclaps and fierce wind are already adding to my difficulty of holding this paper in place. So what she has penned down in her immaculate cursive writing, goes thus.
Grandmother’s premonition of an imminent catastrophe would have transformed into reality, as soon as the doctor would have announced, “It’s a girl.”An air of melancholy would have pervaded every corner of the house, when I would have been brought home the next day. I say this confidently because I had seen it happen when my little sister was born five years later. Somewhere between grandmother’s abhorrence, Papa’s indifference and Ma’s vulnerable affection, I began to grow up. The day I turned sixteen, Ma enumerated all the cardinal points of being an ideal girl to me. I was instructed to walk modestly, talk gently, display forbearance even under extreme provocation and not have an opinion which irks the society. I abided by the rules to the best of my ability but incessant reprimanding and occasional jolting confirmed that I was not adequate enough. Papa’s nonchalance had vanished when I had nervously put forth the request of joining a regular college. Hundred odd questions and unsubstantiated allegations were darted at me when all I had demanded was a chance to educate myself. I had always wondered would my struggle been the same had I been his son? Thank you God for inducing some liberal views in Papa, for after much ado, he permitted me to study a regular course in a College for Girls. His satisfaction that I hadn’t eloped with anyone when I used to return back from college hurt me but I kept quiet. I kept quiet because that’s what I was trained to do, just like so many other ordinary girls out there.
‘Ordinary girl’ Ah! how these two words encapsulate the whole of my being. When I looked at the mirror, she was the one who stared back at me- an ordinary girl. I was the kinds whom one bumps into, in the most mundane spots and trails away without paying slightest attention. The types who are too plain to capture a poet’s fancy, the types you find commuting in public transports, the types who have no extravagant hobbies, the types who don’t mean any harm to others, the types who have soaring aspirations but meager means, the types who dream, the types who are told not to dream, the types who venture out of their houses to fulfill those dreams despite a million dreads lurking in their hearts, the types who want to thrust themselves into oblivion, the types who occasionally peep out of their self-doubts with an impulse to live bigger and better this time, the types who are disgusted with the perpetual consciousness of their body, the types who want to transcend the clichés attached to the weaker (read anguished) gender, the types who try to score well or earn enough in order to mitigate the offense of their mothers for bearing a daughter and not a son.
My life was nothing but a series of punctilious effort aimed at impressing Papa, impress him into loving me if not like a son then at least like a daughter who was trying hard. Nobody besides me knows how bitterly I wept every time Papa did not bother to caste even a crooked glance on my humble accomplishments. And Ma you… I have no major qualms against you, for all your life you had just been a receptacle of everyone’s rage and indignation. You were an incapacitated person who needed help herself. You hadn’t uttered a single word of approval or disproval when I had told you about my ardent desire to marry Devashish. When Papa had heard of it, he had delivered a resounding slap on my face for deviating from the virtuous track. Grandmother instilled every awful doubt in Papa’s mind, ranging from my marrying him without the consent of you all to pregnancy without marriage. Someone has said that men subjugate women but had that someone met grandmother, immediate realization that women can be more obnoxious than men would have dawned upon him.
I was so reluctant to get married to the man Papa thought fit for me but no heed was paid to my words. Grandmother fueled the fire of his fury resulting in my hurried marriage to this malicious man. Ma, you as usual, were an acquiesced spectator. Just after two months of marriage he showed his true colors. I don’t remember when his threats and verbal abuses escalated into physical violence. Sometimes he used to break stuff in anger, targeting me with them, the other times. Gradually, he started battering me till all the bones in my body would ache. It became a regular or you can say a convenient way to vent out his failures and insecurities. I resented my life. No, I hated it. When his atrocities remained consistent for an year, I imprudently thought of confiding my predicament in my family. “She is making excuses to abandon her husband to get back to her lover.” I remember how inconsiderately grandmother had asserted. Papa’s look had explicitly declared that I had overstayed my welcome and Ma guided me back to this house as a married girl staying with her parents is a taboo. The society doesn’t like it. It doesn’t approve of it.
I tremble at his footsteps just as I used to be benumbed at yours Papa. What kind of a life is this? I am putting an end to all my fears, my trepidations and my constant mulling of how my life would have been had I not been with this man. The least you can do for me is not to give the same kind of life to my younger sibling.
An unfortunate daughter
She was so stupid to think that this strip of paper was going to make an impact on them, when her living self had not. She was brighter than in every aspect you can think of. Just a small push of motivation mixed with a few words of care would have worked for this woman but I think she was asking for too much. Anyway, chuck it. So I have two options. First, to seek legal help on the basis of this chronicle she had recorded before hanging herself and second to forget that I had ever read anything like that. So the first option, the legal proceeding that I had mentioned, has its own merits and repercussions. Maybe her husband gets sentenced to jail or something but it is more important to think about what would follow. I would be thwacked by Papa for complicating things; Grandmother would rain a million expletives on Ma for bearing daughters like me and Mrs. X. When Mrs. X’s husband would return back he might threaten me with molestation. If I am molested, I will never be able to procure a suitable match for myself. My life will be ruined faster. I want it to ruin slowly and steadily like Mrs. X. I hope you have understood that I will stick with the second option. Has this account unsettled you? Well don’t worry, grab yourself a cola and watch some entertaining programs on your television. I assure you will forget all about it in ten minutes. Meanwhile, I take your leave and yes tear this letter. Oh. Wait. No. Come back. The savage wind just snatched the letter from my hands and took it with itself. Good riddance.