How small was her smile when she was living in a small vault. Her small, safe yet suffocating little room. She stayed there without questioning her man who had locked her up there right after their marriage. His dynamic personality was freakish, meek and insecure to the limit of letting him believe that her better half must be subjugated to keep her spirits and energy in check; so that she does not leave her for someone else. She would come out only when there would be guests and if she spoke too much she will have to repay later. That dungeon had become her comfort zone but her insides would churn at the staleness of the stuffy walls.
She waited stoically for her stalwart, morbid husband with the hope of a dog that she could someday match his expectations of the security he needed and then he would feel safe to let her out. But the opposite phenomenon ensued and it made her hopes retreat. The cycle was reversed each time she wanted to go out for any work. The last time she had seen sunlight was when she went out for a festival shopping with their driver, only to come back late, and be interrogated, then convicted, then slapped, then whipped and dug into the room. The corporal chastity left her no moral courage to explain her stand.
This incident was not so fresh now but his suspicions were ever new, emerging and mushrooming as though they were newly married. Lost was everything between them, except fear and trepidation. He was devilish, with bloodshot eyes, long and fit frame and bulging muscles. Only his eyes expressed weakness, in a certain way. He was certainly an emotional loss. Today it was a year since she had not left the room. She cooked on a stove in the corner of the room which he visited to devour on the delicious food she prepared. She wanted to smash a flower vase and celebrate the day with a bang. For a moment that morning, she had resolved to hit him dead but the frailty of her spirits failed her hands when he turned to go to the bathroom. The vase she had picked up to hit him on his head slipped from her shivering hands and as he gashed back, she screamed apologetically, convincing him that it fell off erroneously, having been hit by her elbow. He conceded.
The day went by. Nothing changed. Everything replicated. The dichotomy of her love life where there was everything but love was known to none except the driver who had been fired and bashed up to near mutilation last year. It was because Mr. Husband had had suspicions about him having an illicit relationship with his wife. He was innocent. She was innocent. But the innocuous driver-madam relationship had no proof. Just when she thought all her spirit and life had been suspended, at that moment she felt something rise in her.
Today she was feeling full, full of anger. Her remorse had changed into disgust. She was feeling powerful, aroused to vengeance and to make her way out. But she was an unsmart, unskilled and unsupported woman. She did not have the society to back her up in that lackluster world. She could murder him but then she would move from this jail to another. She resigned in her bed like always. She was a dusky, small woman with full features and innocent and transparent eyes. Right now her transparent eyes were just a glass that provided access to the pain in her; her painful yet hopeful eyes.
A nice bright morning, turquoise sky beaming from the window, birds chirping, sellers enunciating; all was perfect. She got up, looked into the mirror, smiled at herself and then looked at the watch. She was late in preparing breakfast; she froze as she realized it and heard his footsteps. He entered, she mumbled, he demanded she muffled. He came at her, she begged forgiveness. His face suddenly softened and said: “have I ever retributed you for any work? All I want is your love should be only for me; you should not be dreaming about anyone else until late in that bed.” She gasped but he smiled more and took her face in his hands, then gently kissed her forehead. “Today is your birthday my love”, he said.
He waited. She cooked; the menu was his favorite veg flavored rice followed by some sweetened curd. She served coyly. He ate buoying with a smile. While eating he suggested they go for a holiday. Perplexed, yet acquiring some confidence from his attitude, she suggested her favorite destination. He said-“What, so far… yet worth it.” She cringed, then again smiled. She sensed something changing. Was it a new dawn, she thought. Entwined in her mind, she sat there as he suddenly started coughing. She hurried to get water. His coughing became vigorous, deadly, and eventually fatal. She tries to put water in his mouth but as his lips gaped, and pressed dead permanently, she smiled, a free smile. She looked at the sweetened curd and smiled more.
The window opens lightly as if the wind did it, but as she looks that side she sees him standing. The driver- alert, fearful yet fascinated at the scene. He shook his head in the inquisition, she nodded and they smiled. Both of them. He had shown his astuteness by getting an undetectable poison. She had played her part flawlessly. All the three had smiled there today but hers was the widest, broadest and the most victorious smile. She had got free, the driver had got his reprisal, and the morbid husband had got his liberation. He looked liberated, his weak eyes set tight in his strong frame.