1. STRUGGLES OF A GIRL
“Dad I swear, I didn’t steal the money. I wasn’t even there when you told mom about the money. Please, dad, believe me”, I cried hysterically. My breaths were coming out mixed with the muffled words in between my sobs.
I looked towards the kitchen only to find my mother, standing there and cooking. I tried to call her for help when suddenly a huge pain erupted from my back.
“Ahhhhhh”, I yelped out as the pain tore my flesh apart and I knew it was my father’s doing. I averted my gaze to my side, to stop myself from screaming once again. It was a rule in my house.
More screaming will get you more pain.
“You are a thief Catherine. If you needed that money this badly, then you could have asked your mother or me. I would have given it to you, thinking I’m donating this money to some beggar. I’ve never imagined you would stoop so low to just have some money. Mark my words Stella, someday we will hear that your daughter is in a brothel just to earn money”, dad said in disdain.
Pure disgust was clearly written on his face. But, my expression was blank. His words rang in my head like music, taunting me, mocking at me. How can a father speak like this to his daughter?
I dared to look back at his eyes but I took the risk. I knew I was going to have a beating out of my life anyhow, so why not by taking the risk.
So gathering enough courage, I looked back at my father only to get slapped on my cheeks. The slap was so hard that I was instantly thrown on the hard floor, hurting my elbows and knees in the process.
“Dad please stop”, I cried out in pain as he again whipped me with his belt. This was usual. He thought that if he continued to torture me like this, I would understand my mistakes, even when I did nothing wrong.
Oh, sorry I forgot to tell you what happened in the first place. So, here is the story!
When dad returned back from the factory he found out that ten thousand rupees were missing from our home. And so, the person who came under their notice was me. I knew they would never listen to any of my explanation. Still, I tried.
I couldn’t handle another beating session. I simply didn’t understand, what have I done to be treated like this, like a burden, a thrash. I mean I hardly ask for clothes, jewelry, and other fancy things that I had seen girls of my age using.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t notice my mother coming into the hall. It was only when my father shouted at me, I came back from my dreamland, sorry reality land!
“How dare you, Catherine? You are now arguing with your own father. Today I am ashamed of you to even call you my daughter. You need money right, wait”, I looked at mom as she roamed in the hall, searching for something. Anger was evident on her face. I just couldn’t believe, my own mom slapped me without even listening to what I had to say.
I didn’t notice her advancements towards me. All of a sudden she pulled me up from the ground roughly and dragged me across the hall, towards my room.
My room! Don’t ever think it to be a princess’s abode and you will see why!
The room, which my parents had assigned for me, was nothing but a small room with furniture stuffed into it. An old bed was there with a thin mattress, a small cabinet was standing beside the bed that contained my books and a broken closet that was stuffed with my clothes.
Well, this was the room where I had to stay whenever I did something wrong. And that made most of the month.
Tears were running down my eyes uncontrollably as I begged mom to leave me. My body wasn’t permitting so much of physical struggles, all in one day. When she remained unfazed, I stopped my struggles and simply followed her. At least that made the pain in my body tolerable.
I gritted my teeth as the excruciating pain from the beating was taking a toll on my mind. My legs started to give up but my mind was constantly telling me that no, I need to stay awake. And that’s why gathering the last few shreds of courage and patience, I collected myself and gulped down the searing pain.
“You will not leave this room until tomorrow. No food until tomorrow. And I’m telling you, Catherine, stop being a pain in our head. Your dad is already very much tensed regarding his works. Now don’t give him any extra stress. I’m begging you, please just be yourself. If you need something just ask me. Please”, mom folded her hands in front of me, “please just spare us”. Saying this she just left my room, locking the door from outside.
I remained standing there, my face blank, expressionless. No emotions were there on my face and in my heart. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, to leave everything and just go away from here, to live my life on my own, away from every rule, every torture and every agony.
Releasing a breath and trying hard to control myself, I walked inside the bathroom. My lips were quivering as I forced the unshed tears to remain within the confines of my orbs. Closing the door behind me, I stripped out of my clothes and went inside the shower.
Setting the water temperature at a low level, I started the shower, allowing the cold water to glide down my skin. The coldness soothed my burning skin, behaving just like the ointment I needed over my bruises. All the medication was available in my room, but since last one year, I had stopped treating my clobbered skin. What would I earn from it? Relief?
Because the next day again some other bruises would be there on my body. I used to ask this question to myself very often and when I got the answer, I stopped taking care of my wounds.
People say time heals the wounds. I desperately wanted to believe that. I wanted the wounds inflicted on my soul to heal, not the wounds that appeared on my body. Coming out of the shower, I wrapped a white towel around my shivering frame and walked out of the bathroom.
The light of the room was dim and so I allowed myself to be completely naked. Now that was something I often did. Walking up to the long mirror attached to one of the doors of my closet, I allowed my eyes to take in the sight.
There stood a girl, with blue and black lines running on the exposed parts of her torso. Some lines had a reddish tinge in it, indicating the cleaned off blood. My eyes then went up to the face of the girl standing in the mirror.
Her face was pale, her cheeks entertaining the imprints of someone’s hand. My eyes closely inspected the wounds, trying to find an escape route, trying to picture my old self. An identity that was long lost under the torment of years, under the scrutiny of my parents and under the turn of events in my life from the past seven years.
Yes, the tortures started since I completed my nine years of life. Earlier than that time, everything seemed to be a dream. We were a happy family. But overnight, something changed, turning my parents into monsters and me into a fragile little girl who couldn’t even stand up for herself.
Releasing a few tears from my eyes, I went towards the bed and plopped down on the hard mattress. Soon my tired and exhausted soul welcomed the sleep as I covered my frame with the quilt, in an attempt to save myself from the mysterious darkness.
A person is most exposed when he is sleeping, and it is the perfect moment to strike. And that’s what I was afraid of. I didn’t want to face something devious in my unconscious state. That’s why even though my mind went into a deep slumber, my senses were active, protecting me from any uncalled strike.
Morning came sooner than expected and I found myself twisting on the bed due to pain. A loud knock at my door broke my sleep, earning a groan from me. I sat up on my bed, wrapping the quilt around my frame.
“Mom, I’m awake. I’ll come outside. Just give me half an hour”, I shouted from my room, still sounding sleepy. My eyes widened in fear when I saw the twisting of the door handle.
What if the person outside my door is Austin?
I thought to myself and hurriedly got down from the bed to grab the robe. Wrapping it around my body, I cleared my face with my hands trying to wipe out the trace of any sleep. I wasn’t allowed to relax.
The door creaked open and then entered the person whom I was least expecting.
“Mom”, I breathed out as she came inside the room, closing the door behind her. “I’m sorry dear for yesterday. I just got angry at your father’s words. He had riled me up. And just because of you, he insulted my upbringing. That’s why I got angry and slapped you. I’m sorry, please forgive me”, she softly said to me though there was an underlying disgust in her voice.
I blinked my eyes in disbelief at what she was saying. Why was she even pretending when she wasn’t feeling an ounce of guilt?
My mind raced with all sorts of questions but no answer came from there. So I just acted along, trying to distance myself from her pretentious acts.
“Mom it’s okay. I understand and I know whatever you did, you did to make me understand about what should I do and what I shouldn’t”, I replied in a hard tone, distancing her from me and got engaged in rearranging the bed.
She stared at me for another five minutes and then muttered an okay, leaving the room all to me. Tears escaped my eyes as soon as she left the room and I slumped onto the bed, trying to hold back my loud sobs that were threatening to escape my mouth.
I pressed my hand on my lips, silencing the cries. After crying for some time, I stopped myself and managed to go to the bathroom, ignoring the pain in my body.
Next month I would be turning eighteen, and my college life would start. Therefore, with a new hope being settled in my heart, I cleared my mind of everything and focused on my college.
That was my dream, a dream I would fulfill at any cost. Even if I had to undergo another series of abuse, I would. But never ever would I let anyone destroy my dreams.