Monday, March 12, 2012

A Short Story - Untitled

It's another attempt at a short story. I got the idea during the 16 days campaign, but took me long enough to finish it. Still couldn't come up with a title though. Got to admit though, I may not be good at this story writing business, but it is fun :)

All characters are fictional. Any resemblance to individuals or events in real life are coincidental. 
It’s funny how people think that they know everything about another person, based only on outward appearances. They look at the big houses, the fancy cars, the designer clothes worn for A-list parties, and think that these people are happy. Not just happy, but that they lead satisfied lives. In a way, it should be the reality. I mean, shouldn’t you be happier when you have more things?

I already knew what the verdict would be even before the jury sat down. Their feelings were transparent as they silently walked back from deliberation. Keeping their heads down, intensely focused on the carpets of the courtroom. Maybe they were worried I might put a curse on them if they looked me right in the eye. What am I? Medusa? I can’t say that I’m surprised. Even I would have found me guilty after those closing arguments by the prosecutor. He was good, let me tell you that. It was the sentence that got to me. I really didn’t think that they would go for the death penalty.

My mother is in the front row, crying. She has been in the courtroom everyday, and there haven’t been single day without tears in her eyes. Father has always been hard to read. He is not the type to show his emotions to the world. He rarely looked at me during the proceedings, but on the rare occasions our eyes locked, I could see the sadness in them. Or maybe it was disappointment, it’s hard to tell.  I wish I could just run over and hug them, console them,and maybe even ask for their forgiveness. 

I still remember the day I first saw him, like it was yesterday. He had just moved into the annexe next door and was moving boxes from his car to the house. I remember that one of the boxes  was filled with trophies, and thinking that he must be some sort of professional sportsman. Taking a break, he looked up and saw me spying from my balcony. I felt ashamed and ran inside, but the last thing I saw was his smile. That smile, especially from a suave sophisticated man like him,  was enough to send any sixteen year old girls heart spiralling. That smile sparked off a friendship, that ultimately led to love. 

Needless to say that my parents were against it when they found out. For the life of me I couldn’t understand their opposition to it. After all, I hadn’t let my relationship with him get in the way of what is important to me. I went to school, passed my A/L ’s with flying colors, continued with my music and did everything that was expected of me, but still they were not happy. He also had a good job, a nice car and money to spend. Most of all he treated me like an adult. Was it wrong to want something that made me happy? Even my closest friends were against it, and our friendship suffered because I thought their comments were based on petty jealousy.  It was at a point when I was so tired of fighting with everybody and defending him that he asked me elope with him. He promised me a world of happiness and love, and I jumped at it without a second thought. Nineteen, just out of school and still believing in fairy tales and happy ever afters.

Words can’t describe how happy I felt during those first few weeks. We had moved down to Galle, because there was a chance that my father would find me if we stayed in Colombo. The little house we rented didn’t have  all the comforts I was used to, but it I wasn’t going to let it get in the way. He found a new job, but not at the same level as the one he used to have. I wanted to find a job myself, but he was against it. He said he would manage it somehow, and I wasn’t to worry about anything.

He always had a bit of a temper. Even in the early days when we would drive somewhere, he would lose his temper and shout at other drivers for the smallest things. But the quick temper never lasted long, and his smile returned as if nothing had happened. I just figured it was the stress of driving in the Colombo gridlock and would try to calm him down. I never dreamed that his temper would ever go beyond that.
That night, I fell asleep on the sofa watching some TV programme. I was four months pregnant at the time, and used to get tired easily. He had gone out with some people from office and was getting late. Suddenly I felt a falling sensation, which woke me up. Next  thing I know, I was out of the chair and lying on the floor, and he was on top of me slapping my face and shouting in rage. The whole thing was so unexpected, that I couldn’t even move to defend myself because of the shock. I can’t even remember if I screamed or not. Then, as suddenly as it started, he stopped, stood up and left. I didn’t even move from where I had fallen. The taste of blood, mixed with tears, was strong in my mouth. I just laid there crying, trying to make sense of what happened. I really thought I was some terrible nightmare.

The morning was even more confusing because he was acting totally opposite from the night before. Apologizing profusely, going on and on about how he never meant and how he would never do it again. He even called in sick to stay home with me. Once again, he was that sweet man I knew, and by the end of the day I would have believed that the previous night was just a nightmare, except for the split lip. Life continued normally, at least for a while. There was only one incident before the baby was born, and again I managed to convince myself that it was an isolated incident. 

The day my son was born was the happiest day of my life. There are no words to describe it. We were once again the happy family I always dreamed of. I should have known better than to trust happiness. His demon was let out one day, and this time, it stayed out permanently. He was always angry at god knows what and took it all out on me. The worst part was that he used to threaten my son if ever I tried to fight back. 

Finally the day came when he actually laid a hand on my little boy. It was another one of those nights, where I was his punching bag. All the commotion had woken the baby up and was crying. I guess the sound of his own son was irritating to him, and he picked the baby up and shook him hard. That was the last straw for me. Something inside of me snapped, and it snapped hard. I really can’t remember what happened, except that there was a lot of blood. It was all a haze and it cleared, there were people all around, and they were taking my baby away from me. I tried to stop them, but somehow I couldn’t move.
Things happened so fast after that. Screaming policemen, dingy cells, strutting prosecutors, and the whole media circus. Everything was muddle. It was like one of those television dramas people love wasting time on. Not surprisingly, everyone blamed me for everything. I must have done something to make him act the way he did. 

We live in such a narrow minded society, where words like equality, justice, tolerance are only found in the dictionary. Nobody wants to understand the problems, they just want somebody to blame it on, so that they can forget about it and get on with their baseless lives. A world where real problems are ignored and voting for the next SMS superstar is much more important.  They know if that they admit to the problems, it breaks down the carefully constructed illusion they live in, and nobody wants that to happen. 

Frankly, I have no regrets for what I did. No, that’s wrong. I do have one regret. It is that I won’t be able to see my son grow up, and to teach him to be the person his father wasn’t. My only wish is that he grows up to be a man who treats everyone with respect, and kindness. A man anyone would be proud to call their son.



Angel said...

Wow... gripping read! And sadly, such scenarios are all too common...

Azrael said...

Thanks Angel :)