The author, Nandishi Shriram

The author, Nandishi Shriram
Colors myriad, yet a land unexplore

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A blinding


A blinding, searing, ripping scream pervades the atmosphere of the silence. A woman sits still in a chair. She is 65, with salt & pepper dyed hair. Her bifocal glasses are perched on the bridge of her bulbous nose. There are hints of a beauty that she may have been. She silently sits in her chair, waiting for the next scream.
Arti, her daughter in law is ridden with psychosis. Pupul was newly married when this illness was discovered. Medication sometimes fails to have effect. There is utter silence in that house, except for her screams, let out once in a while. The ayah who is kept to tend to her, then handles her. Pupul is a widow. Her husband, Romesh left for his heavenly abode a year back. The house is occupied by these two women. There is no signs of any other life.
The woman in the chair, gets up slowly. Her walk is unsteady. She searches for the newspaper in the room that she is. The room has a strange musty odor. It is hardly aired. There is no one to come and do this for her. Ayah sometimes takes it upon herself to come and clean the room. Being with Pupul is a full time job. Her fits, her nightmares, her screams are enough for one human to handle. Ayah has worked in a mental hospice before and is quite adept at handling patients with severe disorders.
The woman finds what she is looking for, the listings of the latest movies to hit the screens. She smiles gently when she sees that the movie she has been wanting to watch, has been released. The woman picks up the mobile phone and slowly dials a number.
Tring, tring, someone answers. “Hello? Yes? Oh hello aunty, how are you? Haven’t heard from you in a long time. Yes, mummy is right here. One sec.”
“Hello Asha?? How are you dear? Yes yes. I am fine. No, the usual. I have not been out lately, my knee hurts quite a bit. Yes Pupul is okay. No, the usual. Okay dear, can we go for a movie this Friday?
Tere bina has been released. Tell Shagun to book the tickets. Yes we will watch it and then she can drive us to the Gymkhana and we can have dinner there with Ajay. Yes. Ok dear. Bye bye.” She puts the phone down gently and goes back to her chair. Few minutes later, she is asleep.
Friday dawns. The woman is looking in her cupboards for something suitable to wear. She is usually in her kaftan everyday as she rarely steps out. She pulls out an aqua colored shirt, with a white edging at the neck, and white capris. She lovingly irons these on her bed. She takes out matching white slip on sandals. They have a grip in the back for her to walk steadily. Her beautician lady comes to the house to dye her hair and wash & blow dry it, put fresh nail lacquer on her toe nails and on her finger nails. It’s now two pm. The woman pulls out Rs. 800 and fifty rupees tip for the beautician lady. She preens in front of the mirror and likes what she sees. She looks pretty, so she thinks. Ajay will be pleased. Ajay is the woman’s companion. He is 70, and a widower. They meet once in 2 weeks. Ajay and the woman have been together for 30 years.
At 6 pm, Shagun and her mother Asha zoom into the drive way. Shagun bounces into the house, hugs the woman and gently walks her to the car. At the window is Pupul, staring.
The three enjoy the movie thoroughly. They go for dinner to Gymkhana. The club is buzzing with activity. They find a spot and sit and wait for Ajay. Ajay walks in half an hour late. After some friendly admonishing from the three women, Ajay plonks into the sofa seat. They order snacks and drinks. They have a jolly time. They come back at 12 am, Shagun takes the woman into the house, leads her to her room, and says goodnight and lets herself out.
Pupul is already waiting for her mother in law. She enters the room, locks it from behind. Some thrashing sounds, screams can be heard, ayah tries to peek through the key hole but cannot see anything. A while later, Pupul unlocks the door and goes back to her bedroom and goes to sleep.

The woman sobs silently, curled up in a foetal position. On her bedside lies a bottle of sedatives. She gets up slowly, goes to the toilet, comes back, takes a sedative and goes to sleep.


The next day,  she calls up a mental hospital facility. After a lot of inquiries etc, the decision is to admit Pupul into the facility for permanent care. The woman silently signs Pupul's death warrant. 
The woman is now alone in the house, with only photographs for company.

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