By Sumit Kumar
Read Part 1 here Dekha Dekhi Part 1
Pooja was sitting lonely and quietly in the park.
Hey,Pooja; a voice called her from the back.
She turned back. It was Shashank, her friend during college days.
Pooja-Omg! The silent Shashank. Come sit.
Shashank occupied the bench.
Sindoor? When did this happened? Shashank went amused.
Pooja- Yes. It has been five months.
Shashank- and where is your husband?
Pooja-He is off to Chennai for a Company tour. Probably, will come by tomorrow.
Shashank- Which company?
Pooja- No, HR.
Shashank- Oh, lucky you. You got a six digit salaried person.
Pooja- Sometimes, salaries don’t matter.
Shashank- What happened? Is anything wrong?
Pooja- Nothing, tell me about you. What are you upto these days?
Shashank- I will tell but first you say what happened? And what happened about your Civil Services?
Pooja- I scrubbed the preparation.
Shashank- Seriously! But why?
Pooja- Because my in-laws think that women are meant to perform household chores and not the administrative jobs.
Shashank- Yes, they are old-generation people. They might have regressive thinking. But doesn’t your HR husband supports you?
Pooja- Huh! He is more regressive than them. He doesn’t allow me to even wear clothes of my choice. For him, I am barely a sensual object meant to titillate him.
Shashank- Unbelievable, I thought this stereotype existed in previous generations only.
Pooja- No it exists in every generation. The only difference in this generation is that it bats for all kinds of right, equality, feminism on facebook,twitter and whatsapp. But when it comes to real life, everyone turns the old person.
Shashank- So, what will you do know?
Pooja- What can I do? I have surrendered to the circumstances. I have junked my dreams.
Shashank- How could you succumb to the circumstances so easily? You were a fighter in college days. You need to fight again; this time with your destiny.
Pooja- It looks easy to say Shashank. I can do nothing.
Shashank- You can do everything. You have the potential. I know you. You have forgot yourself. You were the second ranker in our batch. You had won two inter-college quiz competitions. You are the “daring” Pooja,not the “coward” Pooja.
Pooja- That was my past Shashank. My destiny has tied my hands.
Shashank- Cut the rope.
Pooja- It is not so simple Shashank.What do you want me to do?
Shashank- Civil Services Application forms are out. Fill the application form and give the exams.
Pooja- Really? Is it out? When are the exams?
Shashank- 25’th June.
Pooja- But it is too early. I am not prepared.
Shashank- Doesn’t matter. You have six attempts. Anyways I know that you had completed most of the syllabus in college itself.
Pooja- Yes, but I have not revised the portion. I don’t have the notes.
Shashank- Don’t worry. I have a friend who is preparing for this. He makes digital note. I will mail you.
Pooja- I don’t have email id.
Shashank- Don’t lie yaar. You used to send me notes via email during semester exams.
Pooja- Rounak deleted that email id.
Shashank- and why this kolaveri di?
Pooja- He was apprehensive about me talking to any other guy. Anyways, they will not allow me to give the examinations. It is better to repudiate the dreams.
Shashank- Oh god. Why are you stuck with him?
Pooja- Do I have I any other option?
Shashank- Yes you have. Break the shackles of repression and move ahead.
Pooja- It is not that simple? I don’t have any job. My parents are not going to help me. They have already spent 40 lacs on my wedding.
Shashank- 40 lacs? Seriously?
Pooja- Yes,around 8 lacs for marriage and 32 as dowry.
Shashank- So much of dowry? Grossly unlawful !
Pooja- Cmon Shashank, don’t pretend as a naive person. Dowry is unlawful in books, in reality it exists and everyone knows it.
Shashank- But, Dowry is wrong.
Pooja- So what? Anyways move on. The point is that I am enmeshed in a vicious mess and there is no way to get out.
Shashank- There is a way when there is a will.
Pooja- Good idiom but does that change the scenario?
Shashank- Leave your hubby’s house. File a divorce against him. Simple.
Pooja- and what will I do? I don’t have job or money.
Shashank- One of my childhood friend, Ravi teaches History in a coaching institute. He gets around 15k. You are a brilliant Pol.Science student. I am sure they will recruit you.
Pooja- But money is not the only problem Shshank. My parents will disapprove of this decision.
Shashank- Does it even matter? They have already performed your Kanyadaan. Now, you are a free person. It is your turn do your “Karma”.
Pooja- But what if I don’t get the job in the coaching classes?
Shashank- You will get the job. Just call me whenever you need it.
Pooja- But where is the Coaching class?
Shashank- Near Boring Road.
Pooja’s mobile rings.
Yes, I am coming in 1 hour. Pooja answered on mobile.
My mother in law, Pooja tells Shashank.
Shashank- Give me your phone number and take mine.
Both of them exchange their mobile number.
Shashank- Thank god that you can have your private number atleast.
Yes, I am fortunate; Pooja smiles.
Okay. I am leaving. Try convincing your in-laws and husband again. I can’t dicatate you but remember, never refrain from the activities for which you might regret in future. Either you die as a person to be forgotten in few years or you live a journey that becomes a model for the generations and ages to come. Mark my words. Don’t get alluded by the pretentions of society. They are out to fool you. Do call me if you need help; Shashank delivers a motivating message.
Yes, thank-you Shashank for the benefaction. I will inform you about my decision; Pooja replies.
Shashank leaves. The clock ticks 6.30.
Pooja gets up to go home. She kept thinking about Shashank’s proposal throughout the way. She failed to arrive at a decision. If she chose the family&relation, she had to bury her dreams. If she chose the latter, she would lose out every relation.
What if I leave Rounak but fail to clear the Civil Services; she thought.
After thinking for her entire journey, she failed to arrive at a decision.
She reached home. Her mother-in-law was watching Star-Plus. Father-in-law was reading Dainik Jagaran.
Make tea beta; the Father-in-law replied as soon as Pooja entered the drawing room.
She made two cups of tea.
Dad; Pooja said.
Yes beta; father-in-law replied.
I have to fill one form ; Pooja said.
Father-in-law- Which form?
Pooja- Civil Services.
No; father-in-law chided.
She turned upset. She went to bedroom. She sat in front of the drawer table. The minuscule drops started to come out from her resplendent eyes. She was sad. The red colored sindoor, the shining mangalsootra tied on her neck, every sign that signified her marriage was looking as instrument of oppression to her. She felt entrapped.
It was 23’rd of May. Rounak came back from his official tour at around 9.00 a.m.
I want to say something; Pooja said.
I am tired. I need a sleep. We will talk in the evening; he replied.
In the evening, she dared to speak her dream to Rounak.
Pooja- I need to say something to you.
Pooja- I want to fill a form
Rounak- Which form
Pooja- CSE application form.
Rounak- Civil Services? Have you gone insane? You will fail.
Pooja- Okay I will fail. But let me give the exam.
Rounak- No need of filing the form Pooja. Just do your household work.
Why can’t I fill the form? Pooja’s tone got loud.
Rounak- Don’t raise your voice Pooja.
Pooja- Why? In this house, only men can raise voice?
Rounak slapped on her right cheek.
This is only what devils like you can do; Pooja shouted.
An already indignant Rounak turned more furious. He brutally thrashed Pooja on her back. He strangulated her for a few seconds. Pooja groaned heavily. The voice reached the room of Pooja’s in-laws. They turned a deaf ear to her pain. He severely thrashed and beat her for twenty odd minutes. Pooja begged and cried but the ogreous husband did’nt listened. He left the room after some time.
Where are you going son? The mother asked.
I am going to Rahul’s place. He replied
The mother-in-law entered Pooja’s room. Pooja was silently sitting on her bed.
He has come after doing so much work. Why do you nettle him? He was so tired but because of you, he went outside; mother-in-law decried.
Pooja remained silent.
If you are more concerned about yourself than Rounak, leave this house; the Father-in-law in law joined the chorus.
Yes, I will; she rebuffed.
Leave this house just now. Leave this house quickly. We need peace. You witch don’t deserve my Rounak; the furious mother-in-law sayed.
The couple left the room murmuring ill-will against Pooja.
Pooja took out her clothes and accessories from the almirah. She put all her things in a baggage. She took out the MangalSutra and kept it on the dressing table. She moved out from the room. The mother-in-law was watching Star-Plus in the hall. Father-in-law was reading newspaper. They saw her leaving. She rushed to the main door. She moved out. She felt free. For India, Independence came on 15’th August; for Pooja, 23rd June was the Independence Day. She had come out from an uncomfortable chain of parochial boundaries that were restraining her pursuit to happiness. She was happy. Her conscience lauded her. Her dreams patted her. Her dignity cheered her.
She took an auto rickshaw to the Patna Junction. It was 8.30 p.m. She entered the Hanuman Temple located near the entrance of Railway Station. She thanked the almighty for giving her the strength to take a decision at the right moment.
Rounak calling; her mobile rang. She cut the call.
She spent the night in the waiting room. In the morning, she took an auto rickshaw for home.
She pressed the door bell.
Her mother opened the door.
Pooja, you at this time; she seemed shocked.
Can I come in; Pooja said.
Yes, of course; the mother replied.
She entered the drawing room where her father was busy doing Yoga.
Pooja, you with the baggage; the father said.
Yes, me with baggage. I have left that house. Pooja replied.
Her parents went haywire.
Why? Are you mad or what? The furious father asked.
It was difficult for me to live there, she replied.
What difficulty? You live in a big house. They own a Jaguar-XE. They have so much money; the mother rebuked.
Rounak is the gem of a person. How can you desert him; father lamented.
Huh! He is not a gem. He is a wimp person who beats me. He thrashes me. He abuses me. Have you seen the scars on my faces. Can you see the black spots on my hand. It is all because of your gem dad; she objurgated.
It happens in relationship. Minor skirmish keeps happening between husband-wife . This doesn’t mean you desert your husband over such trivial issues, father tried to condone.
Oh! He beats me up by his belt and this is a minor issue for you. He almost strangulated me to death last night but this a minor skirmish. One day, he will burn me alive but it will be a minor issue for you; an irked Pooja replied.
Look daughter, I know he shouldn’t have beaten you. But you should give him some time atleast. He has loads of work to do at job. Sometimes, people do get out of control because of work pressure; father said.
Pooja- Dad, I am sorry. I feel sorry for myself. When I was a kid, you were my hero. I thought no matter whatever happens, you will always stand as my bulwark. But I guess, I was wrong. I thought myself to be lucky to have you as my father, but sadly, I turned out to be the most unluckiest person.
Don’t talk to you dad like this Pooja, he’s your father; mom intervened.
Pooja- So how should I talk? The way you talk to him? The way you condone his wrongs and the way you bow down before his every opinion. I am not like you mother and I don’t want to be you.
Get out from here; the infuriated mother roared.
The father was in shock. Maybe, because for the first time, someone had shown him the mirror. Maybe, he had not expected to lose in an altercation with his own daughter.
Pooja left the house.
She took out her mobile and dialled Shashank.
Hello; he answered.
Hey, it’s Pooja. Where are you?
Near Boring Road; he replied.
Be there, I am coming.
Okay. See you.
The conversation ends. She takes an auto to the Boring Road.