Ashwini – Social Short Story

Excerpt: Social Short Story: She looked at me with her squinty eyes. I just cried “Oh ghosh!! Is she Ashwini? The girl who killed her father few years back.” (Reads: 1,249)

 

This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition

Ashwini - Social Short Story

Code: WSPI-2012-01 
Photo credit: cepolina.com

It was a day in the latter end of March, about half past ten in the morning. I rushed towards the open door of the corridor to meet her. She was a tall, thin, bearded woman, for she had a beard all over her face, a surprising, an unexpected beard, growing in improbable tufts, in curly bunches which looked as if they had been sown by a madman over that great face, the face of a gendarme in petticoats. She had them on her squashed-in nose, under her nose, round her nose, on her chin, on her cheeks and her eyebrows, which were extraordinary thick and long, and quite grey, bushy and bristling, looked exactly like a pair of mustaches stuck on there by mistake. She was sitting on the floor with a camera kept near her. She was surrounded by thousands of photographs.  She put her long frizzy curly hair in between her thin lips and looked at me with her squinty eyes. I just cried “Oh ghosh!! Is she Ashwini? The girl who killed her father few years back.”

In past few years, I had successfully alleviated mental and emotional disturbances of several people by means of various techniques, occasionally drugs or electroconvulsive therapy, more often private or group psychotherapy. I had earned lot of love and respect as a renowned psychiatrist in Delhi, and felt utter joy when Delhi police handed me the complicated case of Ashwini. According to the police records, Ashwini was born in Delhi in 1982 in a middle class family of clerks. She did her schooling in Kendriya Vidyalaya and her graduation in an engineering college of Delhi-NCR region. She was a meritorious student having more than 80% marks scored throughout her career. She came in the limelight in May 2006 when she was arrested for slaying her father, just two days after her mother died of a heart-attack. Later in 2007, she was sent to a mental rehabilitation Centre under the Delhi police, after a civil court declared her to be mentally unfit. Since then she had been attended by several top psychiatrists of the city but her condition deteriorated with time.

After getting this assignment, I started spending large amounts of time in observing Ashwini. Her behavior was really different from many of the mentally disordered people whom I have treated in the past. She used to obey all the rules and followed the routine life of the rehabilitation center. She always kept a self-adjusting auto-shoot camera near her, and in every 10 minutes a picture of her was taken by the camera.  For the other 5 minutes she was busy with the photograph that came out from the device. She has been doing this since last few years. She never uttered a single word and took all the medicines from nurses without forging any agitation for them. Most of the time, she was like an obliging 12 year old girl, but the only time when she really became lethal was when she had to kill time without her camera. That time, everyone was scared of her appalling violent power that she used in destroying anything that came in her way. Every night powerful doses of sleeping drugs were given to her for sound sleep. The causes of mental disorders are varied and in some cases unclear, and theories may incorporate findings from a range of fields. This was happening in the case of Ashwini too.  Like other psychiatrists, I was also not being able to trace the actual element of her mental disorder. The drugs that were used for her sound sleep, and for controlling her sudden violence, were gradually damaging her psychic condition. She was very close of being admitted in a mental hospital for involuntary commitment.

I believed in destiny but never left it to chance and this time fate had also planned something different for Ashwini that led me to find her diaries accidentally. I was sure that her diaries will lead me to enter in the realm of real Ashwini and eventually I will know the genesis of her mental disorder. I started reading her diaries…

 

21  MAY 1994

Dear diary, thanks for coming into my life today and yeah it’s a special day for me, it’s my birthday. First let me tell you a few things about me... I have wavy/curly dark brown hair an inch or two longer than my shoulders and dark… and brown eyes.. I’m 4 ft. 10 ½ (I know I’m short for my age, 20th percentile, but I’m growing.) I’m in 7th grade this year and am dying to be 13 (then I’ll finally be a teenager!). I have to get braces really soon right now I’m wearing a twin block to move my jaw forward. Although braces are no walk in the sun, they’ve got to be better than this! I’m not popular but I’m not a loser and I’m actually pretty shy around other kids, unless I know them well. Now let me introduce you to my family. My papa works in a bank here in Delhi, My mother is a housewife and yeah she is My best friend. My brother is 2 years younger than me and we both adore each other. Sometimes, I feel jealous of all extra love and affections, he gets from papa, but mom says that brothers are always admired more than sisters in our country, it happened with her too. Earlier I used to feel abashed for my ugly looks that kept some of the kids away from me, but now I don’t feel so because of my mother’s promise that after few years, an angel will convert me into a beautiful damsel, and everyone will run after me. I am sure that from now onwards you will always remain loyal to me for My whole life and keep My all secrets only with you…

 

JUNE 1997

 I have secured 1st position in my school by scoring 92% marks in class 10th board exams. My mother is so much delighted with my performance. Now I hope that my father will allow me to take maths and science for my higher secondary education, but he still believes that there have been some mistakes by C.B.S.E  authorities while evaluating my exam copies. He even accused me for copying some other guys during exams, as he argues that he never saw me studying hard and it’s not possible for girls to top in a school dominated by boys. How can he be so mean and think this way for me? I am his daughter and he never cares for my happiness. Sometimes I feel that my father is the bane of my existence. Does he feels ashamed of my ugly looks? Oh diary do you also feel bashful for being the best buddy of an ugly girl? Oh angel, where are you? I really need you, do something so that everyone start appreciating me…

 

AUGUST 2000        

 I was really bemused about my college and my engg. branch, but the first day at college went good, clearing all the negative thoughts that was stressing my brain since a long time. It was really a tough task for me to take mechanical engineering that my father never wanted me to study. I chose this department only to prove him that girls can do better than boys here too that has been dominated by them since a long time. He never gets satisfied with my educational achievements. Few months ago, after hearing the news that I have topped again in class 12 examinations, his state of mind declined that was already in a bad condition, after my brother scored very poor marks in 10th board exams. He even feels that I have stolen all good luck of my brother that led him to perform poorly in board exams…

 

MAY 2002

I have shed my weight and now I am a tall girl still having a curly hair, squinty eyes, squashed-in nose and thin lips. Though I still don’t look too attractive but now I have a few college friends. Unlike most other college girls, I am taken less seriously if I dress well. Yes, wearing a cute blazer and jeans (or make-up and accessories) actually diminishes how seriously my peers and professors take me. For some reason, certain professors seem to hold it against me that I am a girl going into a seriously male dominated world. However, being taken seriously is seemingly on the bottom of My “to-do” list when it comes to classes…

 

FEB 2004

How can he say this to me?? Do I really look so awful that even My college friends hesitate in posing with me for a photograph?? I know I am always the ugly one. Don’t say that’s a lie because you don’t know what some people have said and done. It hurts to think about how mean some people could be. Even when I started to look a little better, they still couldn’t see. Was he true when he told that everyone in my college feels ashamed of being My batchmate?? Why I’ve ever liked him that he rejected me for reasons of ‘God, you are so ugly’ or ‘I’d never go out with you’. Everyday this boy would tell me I am ugly and nasty, and then he got other people to say it too. You should have heard what they said to me in middle of the class. It was awful. I felt like crying. It is a torture and a living hell. Are my looks the reason that my father never loved me?? Is a girl’s physical beauty everything with which she is characterized in this world??Does the outer beauty matters more than the “inner” beauty? And if it is so then why it is so??…

 

MARCH 2006

 My father has bought a self-adjusting digital camera for me so that I can take my photographs regularly and he can use one of my best photographs in sending my marriage proposals to different eligible bachelors’ parents for further proceedings. I just pretend I look really good, sometimes it’s really hard though because I don’t like being, thinking… that I’m pretty when I’m not and today it has been proved after my marriage proposal has been rejected again for the 15th time since last year. Now I even can’t stand looking into mirrors because all I ever see looking back at myself is “ugliness and obesity”. “So I don’t look. My mother’s health is also becoming a cause of worry for me. Yesterday was the 2nd time since last month that she had been hospitalized for a severe chest pain. I am feeling sorry for my mother. May be father is right, I am the only one to be blamed for everything which is happening with my mother…

 

MAY 2006

Oh diary, can you imagine trying to focus on reading a book and in the background you hear a lawn mower getting progressively louder and louder until you couldn’t focus and even forget that you were supposed to be reading a book at all. My life has become a book whose pages are being formatted every day with increased space of guilt. My brain has lost its focus and My only beautiful possession that is My soul has also started losing its essence. All of a sudden, My will and determination to fight on has left me. I don’t feel any sort of calm and am not at all in peace that can give me a painless sleep. I am getting addicted of sleeping drugs. I love seeing my photographs, the only thing that elates me these days…

 

Ashwini had started writing diary since the age of 12 years. I read all her diaries, but her best friend, diary kept her promise to be loyal and kept most of the Ashwini’s secrets only with her. Many of the pages in the diary were missing and I was able to read only few pages of her diaries, but those pages helped me to get much closer to the actual cause of Ashwini’s mental disease. I still don’t know what happened that night that made her to assassinate her father 2 days after her mother deceased in a heart attack.  After reading pages from Ashwini’s dairies, my way of conceiving has altered drastically and it has shown me a new string of hope. What is new is a concern for a woman who’s suffering physical, sexual or psychological aggression in the family, at work or in educational institutions. The problem is perceived somewhat differently today, as society begins to question, at an essential level, the consubstantiality between violence and gender relations, and as a negative attitude towards violence, in any of its manifestations in social life, becomes increasingly widespread. I still don’t know whether I will be able to cure Ashwini or not, but I will try my best in changing the envision of our ruthless community that plays a major role in forging large number of Ashwini’s every year, bawling for help in mental rehabilitation centers across the globe.

NOTE:: This story is a work of fiction and is dedicated to all the wonderful women of this world.

by :: MIHIR KUMAR CHOUDHARY


About the Author

Mihir Choudhary

just a word SIMPLE defines me in all aspects....i just go by this word and take everything to be a synonym of this word..sometimes this word attracts its foe and i m surrounded by complications...but again simply the best is the word SIMPLE and i m enjoying the way to be simple and live my life...

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Comments

Comments

  1. rohit says

    STORY ‘S on a very sensitive topic with my conclusion that– outer beauty is not important..
    hope this sense prevails..

  2. saurabh kumar says

    A story that can find it’s belongings in many INDIAN HOUSEHOLDS….the kind of grudge one comes across at a certain point of time & is very much prevalent still today….sincerely hope that a +ve change wheels into our “MODERN ” INDIA

  3. sujata says

    very gud story wid uncommon theme and affluent in every sense…beautifully written till d end.gr8 job …keep it up

  4. shilpa says

    I felt it was like reading a very well-written cover story/feature story in one of the magazines. Having said that, it is a good read, captivating till the end. I particularly liked the diary entries, it portrays the turmoils, insecurities, complexes of Ashwini quite well from the very first entry. Like Ravinder Singh I would have liked to see a twist regarding her father, it would have added more weight to the story. Maybe, your thoughts were crippled by a word limit. Though the diary entries are good, it somehow doesn’t seem to connect her killing her father, is almost as if they are 2 parallel stories. Sure, every teenager has altercations with his/her parent(s). But that rage leading to killing is missing. The slow,gradual mental fall is depicted well. Having read and reading a lot of short stories of late, I feel a good short story is defined more by the ending statement/paragraph. A line about her father in the end would have been good.

  5. Amal says

    Trying your hand at epistolary writing, you should refrain from going into first person narrative and focus more on the actual format. It was well written but felt like a long read, because of the large infodump in the starting. In my view, you could have tried introducing Ashwini’s first entry as the first thing which catches the reader’s eyes.

  6. Ravi says

    Nice work Mihir.., Your story re-exposes this ugly face of our society. This ruthless community is killing so many beautiful souls like that of ‘Ashiwini’. I hope this will change….

  7. Gaurav Deka says

    Good Effort Mihir. I loved the Characterization and the plot was also unusual. All the best.

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