I can't possibly wait for this stinking phase of my life to be over. I can see the end but it's too far away. Just 3 months left for my class XII board exams. Three long drawn, dragging months. And in the meantime, I have to keep going back to that stinking school full of those stinking people. With everything that has happened in the past year, I just want to quit! I have honestly had ENOUGH.
The only thing that keeps me going at this point is the prospect of being with Joseph for five days a week. I somehow manage to suffer through the weekends and go back to school. I often laugh at the irony of my situation. The very place that made my life a living hell and because of which all hell broke loose is where I need to be so that I can spend time with the love of my life. But I'm not a naive, foolish teenager anymore. I am a year older and wiser. And the previous year has taught me lessons that I will carry with me to the grave.
Before Munaam left for Dubai, he clearly understood my parents' intentions. He probably knew that he was a prize catch in our community and that he could be with a girl far more deserving of someone like him. He was the whole package after all, wasn't he. Tall, handsome, well educated, settling in Dubai, well-to-do family, capable of paying a good bride-price and "all that jazz". Well he did make a point to all of us when he decided to stop helping me with my lessons under the pretext of having to concentrate on his own. Understandable. He started avoiding Vappa at the mosque because he was mostly short of time. Understandable. He stopped visiting our home completely because he was getting engaged to the daughter of a businessman in Dubai. Understandable. But, the way my parents dealt with the situation - Unforgivable.
"the way my parents dealt with the situation - Unforgivable."
The hints were getting clearer, my heart was getting broken and my parents' reactions were getting worse. The cherry on top was when Umma came knocking on my locked bedroom door to discover that I wasn't in the mood to engage in a conversation. She did however make it a point to shout out to me through the cracks on my door that they never thought this would work out, that they were completely fine with the fact that Munaam wasn't interested in me, that he did deserve a better girl and that I should forget about him. They were content with pretending as if I was unaffected by the turn of events. "How can you lose something that you didn't have in the first place?", they would ask each other in my presence. Moreover, the air around the house was as if I had no reason to jump to any assumptions in the first place. No one had made any promises, afterall. Of course, they were implied but I was to keep my mouth shut about that. If only I had someone to share this with. If only someone would acknowledge my pain. I thank all heavens that I did not talk to Umma about Munaam, ever. I saved myself the embarrassment of making a fool of myself. My pain was mine and mine alone.
Around this time, things were pretty smooth in the school front. The calm before a storm, I guess. My grades weren't suffering, thankfully. I was still attractive and everyone had their eyes on me, obviously. And a senior was madly in love with me. Which is always a big deal. He was the only one who placed me on a pedestal. Munaam clearly had no interest in me. But this fellow showered me with everything a girl needed to feel important and desired. I continued talking to him everyday during the lunch breaks. But, I never loved him. I never implied it or said it to him. I was almost always at the receiving end and I had no intention to continue whatever it was that we shared beyond that point. I knew he was leaving soon and that was that. Moreover, he was a Hindu which to me at that point, was a big deal. And he wasn't the kind of guy I could feel physically attracted to. He could probably be classified as a friend. Someone I enjoyed listening to and spending time with.
One afternoon during our rendezvous at the usual spot in the Chemistry lab, he leaned over and kissed me on my cheek. I don't remember him asking for permission. But nor do I remember pulling back when he did it. It was my first ever kiss from a boy! And it felt inexplicably special. With time, a peck on the cheek turned into a kiss on the lips. I never stopped him because I was curious by nature and this was a truly novel experience. It made me realize that looks don't really matter when you're kissing with your eyes closed. It's the experience that counts. Moreover, no one was watching and this wasn't even going to last. I had never told him that I loved him. And returning his kiss proved nothing.
I can't describe my shock when I realized that someone had in fact been watching. For one second I'm lost in the kiss and the next thing I hear is, "What's going on here?", followed by the judgmental face of the lab assistant. I mean, seriously? It was the lunch break! He wasn't supposed to be there. We, however were not oblivious to the position this put us in. Kerala is too conservative, the lab assistant was too bored with his life and my school loves to escalate everything. I knew very well what was coming. I immediately left the lab and headed for the classroom, waiting for the bomb to be dropped. And surely enough, I was sitting inside the Principal's office within the hour. The hour long wait before I was summoned was torture. I was seriously considering jumping off the terrace of the school building. With the way things were in my life, there was no hope, and nothing was bound to go in my favour. We were individually questioned by the Principal in the presence of our respective class teachers. The news spread like wildfire and I was left with the reputation of being a whore. I was also left with a note summoning my parents to school the very next day. He was in his final year, ready to face his board exams and I was a girl. Expulsion seemed to be a more realistic possibility in my case alone.
That night, I endured beatings. Many, at the hands of Vappa. He used his old leather belt which finally found it's life's purpose instead of fading away in the cupboard ever since he had taken to the traditional attire of mundu after coming to Kerala. It's interesting how Vappa was crafty enough to hit only those parts of my body that my school uniform would conceal. I had brought shame to the family, set a bad example for my sisters, brought an end to my education etc. This went on well into the night. The kids were horrified and huddled together in a corner somewhere. Someone, I don't recall if it was Vappa and Umma, even suggested mass suicide for the family. Must have been Umma. Always the dramatic one. They were victims now because of their eldest offspring. I expected to cry a lot that night. On my bus ride home from school, I contemplated suicide, foresaw tears, weeping and begging. But none of that happened. At least not from my side. I was numb and felt cold inside. Like a stone. Nothing affected me. Nothing shook me. I just wanted to be done with the night so that I could get some sleep. I just wanted to be done with the next day so that I could go back to my lessons.
"I just wanted to be done with the night so that I could get some sleep. I just wanted to be done with the next day so that I could go back to my lessons."
On the following day, both sets of parents were given a lecture on parenting. The culprits were shamed by all the adults present in the room. And everyone was left off with a warning. That's all there is to anything in the end. A warning to not repeat something in the future. His folks seemed to be dignified people. Dignified is probably not the right word. They were nice. Kind. They weren't being menacing to him. They didn't treat me with scorn. They were respectful to all the people in the room. An impressive quality, I must say. But I lost all respect for them the minute they decided to step into my house. They stalked down my address and approached my parents with a goddamn proposal. What in God's name were they thinking! How foolish can adults be?
"Since our children have found true love blah blah, as responsible and loving parents blah blah, we must contain this situation and think about their future blah blah."
"Since they're too young blah blah, and have careers to concentrate on blah blah, we must give them a promise of sorts blah blah blah blah and blah"
"Let's fix their marriage despite all religious barriers blah blah blah, because what is important in the end is how much we love them blah blah blah"
"This will make it easy for us to get them to promise to not keep in touch with each other, until they stand on their own feet. Period."
That's what they wanted all along. For both of us slowly forget about the other's existence. No harm done when we break it off ourselves in the end. And they can emerge as the new-gen, understanding, open minded victors disguised as normal parents. Umma walked into my room without knocking because my privileges to lock my door have been revoked. She first accused me of finding an ugly Hindu boy. Assured me that she couldn't comprehend what I saw in him. And then told me what his parents were trying to discuss with mine. She intended to tell me that Vappa was going to tick them off anyway because their daughter was "well brought up" and their family was "respectable" and of course, I was under "house arrest" so there was nothing to worry about. She never expected me to storm out of that room and spew venom at the set of parents I could actually do that to.
My exact words, loosely translated from Malayalam, were:
"Please leave my house the minute I'm done telling you what I have to say. Understand that your son is a mere nobody to me. He doesn't have the looks, intellect or capability to actually make me fall for him. Never once have I told him that I loved him. I merely spent a few afternoons engaging in harmless, innocent conversations with him when he showered me with praise and told me how someone like him could never dream of being with someone like me. He was always right with those assumptions, as you can see for yourself. It was most unfortunate that he was spotted forcing himself on me. And it is most fortunate for you and your family that I have remained silent about it. My family will not press any charges against your son as long as he stays the fuck away from me in the remaining few days left for him at school. I don't intend to ever see him again either. Thank you for taking your time to do what you felt was best for your son. I'm sure you will continue to look out for him for as long as you need to. Please leave immediately."
"My parents knew that I had lied. But I had, at the same time, come up with the most convenient solution to their problem."
And that was that. My parents knew that I had lied. But I had, at the same time, come up with the most convenient solution to their problem. For escapists like them, this was just perfect. Now they know that they have to treat me like a victim. Their poor, well brought up daughter was a victim. They were still full of spite against me and were constantly suspicious of my friendship with other guys. They were paranoid as fuck and made my life miserable by dropping and picking me, to and from the school. Suddenly the rising petrol prices were never discussed. My siblings were happy about the free rides in the car everyday. And my parents were paranoid, bad tempered victims themselves. Happy with the solution I provided, all the same.
I never saw him again. Never stepped out of my classroom during lunch breaks. Vappa drove us to school in the morning, picked us up every afternoon. The vicious boys in my class called me a slut behind my back. All the seniors from his batch provided more gossip to the guys in mine. Teachers picked on me in class. School was a living hell. My only saving grace - my then friend and now boyfriend, Joseph.
Continue reading here.
You might also be interested in reading Part 1 of this collection.