12th August, 2005
Dear Diary Dearest ,
Today is the day when i feel like just giving up.
I have no more to write to you.
I wish i could once again decide that Hope is why we are alive . But not any more .
Yours always ,
Best friend .
He had read this again . His heart sank , yet again. After all , he had seen her evolve from a chirpy young girl to ... he did not even want to mention it .
Samir was always extremely fond of his sister , much of a fatherly figure for ten year younger Anushka .They came from a conservative family from Punjab . Her love for food , and zest for life seldom surprised him . He had seen his baby run around the paddy fields , hopped enough just to get hold of her little hands , see her laughter roar under the splendid blueish orange sunset , the magic in her sparkling eyes , you could say it lit the field . He would often proudly mention to his buyers that it was her who brought life to his green lush fields . He loved how her heart reached out to the the workers on the field , and how she had no air about being the owner there . She always got along her share of gulab jamuns to the field to share it with their kids , it gave her an immense sense of joy .
He would get goose bumps at the thought of how he would wake up each morning next week and convince himself to go work at the same field , with the same people , growing the same crop but yet remarkably different , missing its magic because she would be gone ; to another world , to start her married life . Their culture and atmosphere forced his supposed modern parents to get their minor daughter , married . The fussy grandmother's apprehensions about hurting God by not following the ritual of getting a girl married by the age of 15 and moreover , facing the social stigma from their relatives and villagers , just added to peer pressure on naive Anu's parents . They got her engaged to 14 years older , Rakesh , a rich spoilt brat who's family owned a 100 acres of land , at a distance of about 40 kms from Anu's village ; because his family did not demand dowry . Her parents were so overwhelmed with the fact that they got away with the demand they feared most in their life , that they failed to infer why that had happened .
Nonetheless , next week , the lavish wedding took place with a lot of relatives , food , drinks , lighting , colour , clothes , flowers , friends , music and a lot of happiness . Or wait , was everybody happy ? Well , the grandmother was ecstatic . The parents were teary eyed yet experienced bliss . Little Anu , loved the attention and gifts she got , much waiting to open each one of them . But Samir , he did not seem happy . The speed at which the affairs had passed by , got him thinking . He would wonder all day and his mother would pat his back to say , he was just apprehensive about the thought of staying away from her . On that day too , he had similar feelings . But he knew it was not just apprehensions . He knew something , somewhere was wrong .
Two months passed by. As the ritual says , the girl's parents and brother have to visit her and shower her and her new family with gifts , as an expression of gratitude for accepting their daughter . The minute they stepped into her house and he embraced her , Samir knew something was bothering his darling . But Anu refused to nudge . She refused to let out her sufferings in the house , about how her family treated her like a maid servant and beat her each time she would make a mistake , while cooking or ironing the clothes or doing daily chores of its like . Little did she know , it was just the beginning . Samir felt an unusual pain but was helpless .
Thereon , each day each minute he thought about her , wondering what had gone wrong . As per the rituals , her family was not allowed to see her for the next two years since an astrologer had mentioned how that could negatively affect her married life . Forced to behave as per social customs , he failed to do anything . Two years passed . He was euphoric to see her .
He saw her . He was shattered . Burn marks on her face , cigarette butts used to burn her hands , a fragile tired girl is who he saw . Before he realised , sorrow had turned into anger . He charged towards her husband and held him by his collar. Her parents ran after him , trying to control him , and sobbing at their daughter's state. They walked away , knowing that taking her back would amount to social outcasting . They left her , at the mercy of those animal like humans . Samir did not have the heart to do so , but neither did he have the authority to take her away , with him , to a joyous world where she should have belonged . He made her promise that she would keep writing in a personal diary and he would read it each time he secretly came over , to give her good food . It was their little agreement that made him feel better .
Well , not actually . Each time he went there and read her diary , he realised how her situation was getting worst each passing day . But he helped her to gain emotional and mental stability to hope that there would be a day soon , where he would take her away from that awful place.
It was not them . It was not her in-laws. She had put herself on fire.
Samir broke down. He asked the jeep driver to stop . He no longer wanted to save her , for he felt her pain. He stared at her , embraced her . She gave in . There was an unusual smile on her face , which said , she had not been happier than she was today , at this point , since the day she got married ; almost like she was happy to have gone , while she was in the arms of that one person who cared .
A million memories ran through his mind.He wondered , if they did not force her to get married , what a young girl with flamboyant mannerisms would have his sister been. He called his parents to inform them , that she was dead.
Today is Anu's 12th Death Anniversary . He yet vividly remembers each moment from that day.
Even today , reading her last letter , brings tears to his eyes. But , there is also a sense of bliss , because , she deserved to Soak No More.
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