Reena was 28, hailing from a village in Rajasthan. A mother of a beautiful 6 years old daughter, she was married to Kishorenath for the past 8 years. She was a housewife who knew how to cook, stitch and tailor to the needs of a husband as a loving wife. Kishorenath worked at the post office adjacent to the banks of the seasonal river which quenched the thirst of the entire village that usually faced droughts even in the monsoons. When the entire country enjoys and cherishes the season, the ladies of the village walk miles to fetch potable water hard to find in the deserts, but Reena’s indefatigable energy didn’t deter her to get water whenever her daughter asked for.
Kishorenath spent lavishly on drinks. At nights, he often got into unnecessary fights over petty issues, and Reena was always on the receiving end, bruised but not a single word of protest against the injustice. She lived just the way the society expected her. The neighbour knew about the row between them and Reena’s helplessness. Once she exchanged some words with Reena from her window overlooking the grim yellow bushes. But Reena never ever talked a single word against Kishorenath, but kept saying, “I’m her wife. He is good to me.”
Heavy drops of tears fell from the neighbour’s eyes looking at the blatant injustice that this typical Indian woman bore and still sunk in her grievance, never to accentuate it.
A couple of years ago, Kishorenath got transferred to a village nearby Mumbai. That escalated his lust for drinks. The couple moved to Mumbai, while the daughter stayed back with her maternal grandparents. Weeks passed by and Kishorenath distanced himself from Reena, and deceived her into the brothels of Mumbai. All of a sudden one day, he left the house they rented late night when Reena was fast asleep.
The next morning Reena felt devastated, no sign of her husband. She was left all alone in the midst of the darkness, a plethora of despair dawned upon her. The realization that she was all alone now hundreds of miles away from her daughter and parents didn’t sunk this time, but accentuated itself in the form of heavy sobbing and wailing. Her heavy sobbing kept escalating.
Days passed by and she gathered herself up. With not a penny to live, she had already been deceived into the brothels of the mega city. But she couldn’t help herself, she had to feed her daughter. She thought, “I do not wish my child to know what I’m compelled to do, I wish she kisses the pinnacle of success.” She kept the way as the life took her along.
Back at her village, her parents were petrified as they hadn’t received any message or call from Reena for weeks now. They tried to call up Kishorenath, but to no avail, all in vain. Later that afternoon when they were arranging for their maiden visit to Mumbai, they received a letter posted to them by Reena a few days ago.
Reena still didn’t speak of her despicable predicament, but assured them of a regular paid job that she got into. She couldn’t let them know of what she was into, a life of a prostitute, not because they would ostracize her, but because the village would ostracize them and her daughter.
The parents were under the apprehension that their daughter was working at a well-acclaimed office in the city of dreams. They were proud of her, but oblivious of the stark reality. They were satisfied and celebrated her daughter’s accomplishments.
Once in a cozy night with gentle cool breeze blowing from the southwest across the Arabian Sea, Reena sat by the beach. Her presence was a stark contempt of the nature’s placidity. All of a sudden, she heard somebody screaming from a nearby place. She got up at once, trudged along the sands straight to the source, and to her astonishment, she stood flabbergasted. She was witnessing the rape of a teenage girl in an SUV across the dark alley that took to the thinning concrete belt ahead. Reena was stone charmed. There were perhaps three men involved.
One of them perhaps saw Reena, and straight away they took to the dark alley vanishing into the concrete belt, invisible now to Reena. Nobody knew what happened to the poor helpless teen until the next day, the headlines shattered Reena’s heart to the core, “19 year old teen gang raped and killed, Rapists still in open.”
Reena would stand by the clandestine street, soliciting for what she had to barely earn to look after her parents and daughter. Men with hefty shoulders and sparkling lust in their dangerous eyes would pick her up to their places. She would do just what they asked, spread across her legs just as what they demanded. She would close her eyes, and tears took their path across the terrain of despair. Those tears were not only the tears for her predicament, but tears for that 19-year old helpless teen who lost her life in a gang rape that Reena witnessed herself.
Men would abuse her, call her by petty names. What could she do…this is the society we live in, a society of lust, lascivious covetousness. Each second, she would wonder, “I should have surrendered myself to them, that poor girl could have been saved”.
Every time she thought about her daughter, she wished to return, but was reluctant to do so. Day in and day out, she would blame herself for the plight of that poor little girl who was raped and killed mercilessly.
She thought to herself, “Perhaps my service would save a dozen innocent souls.” And perhaps it did so. Perhaps not just a mere dozen but scores of them.
It was her daughter’s birthday. She had sent a token of love for her daughter a few days ago through post, a letter which read:
“My dear love,
How are you? It’s your birthday! I wish you a very cheerful and happy birthday. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there, but my blessings are always there for you. Mumma loves you a lot. I will soon come back. You see Mumma has a lot of work here. I will come back. Papa is also working here. I miss you, beta.
You’re my soul.. May God bless you. Take care of Nanu and Nani.
Not even the day passed by than the news channels roared again:
“28 year old woman raped and killed. Rapists still in open.”
This time the victim was none but this very mother…
The news soon swept across the hamlet. Reena’s death came as a swift fire that engulfed the entire village. Her being a prostitute and not an officer made the villagers even more vexed and galled. They burned alive the parents and the little 6 year old daughter in their house. No one survived. None. Ashes remained. Memories burnt.
The villagers call that spot as cursed now. They remember Reena not as their own daughter, but a prostitute who brought filth to the village. But they would never understand what it took Reena, and how she gathered herself up. No words from Kishorenath. Nobody cared about it, nobody.