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Beauty and the beast.

       The first time it happened, it felt like a bolt from the blue. Their first date, preceding that bombshell,  had been simply  perfect. Amit had come to pick up Isha from her place with a  bunch of pretty red roses. Isha had blushed a deep red and  coyly mumbled a hushed 'thanks'. She had felt on top of the world. Amit was not only good looking, he was also warm and loving, just like in the stories she read as a young girl. And to think that she would be spending her entire life with him! Aah! Bliss!

      Isha met Amit through her Aunt Malti, the Lady Cupid of Isha's family. And much to the delight of all, they had clicked from the word go! Isha, the sweet, gentle, soft spoken girl-next-door and Amit, the handsome, caring and well-mannered boy who had stolen her heart at the first meeting. A quick engagement and the rosy courtship period followed for the couple to get to know each other. Wedding was just round the corner, but that didn't keep the two love birds from meeting each other. Wanting some more excitement, Amit had planned this elaborate date for his ladylove and Isha was basking in the attention heaped on her by her man!

      They had zoomed off to the movie theatre to watch Love Story, holding hands, feeling the love pass through their bodies and warm their hearts. A lazy lunch at Trishna and then  a walk in the park had left Isha breathless.
      After walking for quite some time, dreaming about  their future, they had found their way to a cosy corner bench surrounded by  lush greenery and colourful bougainvillaea. Isha had been flush with love for her life partner when Amit had suddenly stood up and pulled her in his arms. A wild current had passed through her, leaving her dazed. He held her face in his palms, eyes boring hers, sending tiny tremors through her body. Bringing his lips close to her ears, he had whispered, "I want to kiss you, sweetheart!"
        Isha had lost her breath and clung to him for support. She whispered back," This is just our first date, Amit. Don't you think we ought to wait for a wee bit? Give me some time, darling, to lose my inhibitions." and giggled nervously. The stinging slap that came as a reply to her loving plea had sucked the life out of her!  She couldn't believe what had just happened! It felt as if it had been a nightmare  and she had looked at Amit with shock in her eyes. Had he really slapped her or had she been imagining things? Her eyes smarted with hot tears but no sound escaped her stunned and horrified soul. She  struggled to get out of Amit's arms and sat down on the bench, trying to recover from what had just taken place.
     "I am sorry, so so sorry, Ishu! Forgive me, sweetheart! I really don't know what overcame me. I promise this will never happen again. Promise. Forgive me, honey! Please!It's just that I am not in the habit of being denied anything!" Amit  tried to explain. He  fell  to his knees, begging for forgiveness, desperately trying to save the situation. Tears were now flowing from both their eyes, tears of fear and tears of guilt. Finally, Isha had stopped crying and looked away. Her mind blank, all the built up emotions of love had evaporated into thin air leaving her shaken and scared. Very very scared. What a transformation he had been!  One moment a raging devil and the next moment her loving and caring fiancé, trying to woo her all over again!
      It had taken Amit a long time to calm Isha's frayed nerves.  A long time to convince her he wasn't how she thought him to be. A long time to make her believe that such a horrible thing would never happen, ever again. Eventually, she forgave him. He had gently taken her in his arms and soothed her, whispering sweet nothings into her ears as her heartbeat came back to normal. They had stayed like that for a long time, till the sun had left the horizon and the stars had begun to come out of their blankets.
     That night, as Isha lay in her bed,  she kept thinking about what had happened. Had it really happened? Had Amit really slapped her when she had denied him a kiss? And, why? He was her future life partner. If she couldn't speak about her feelings with him, if she couldn't be honest with him, then how was she going to spend the rest of her life with him? Before being the love of her life, Amit had to be her best friend in whom she could confide everything:  her fears, her sorrows, her dreams and desires.
But, today's incident had brought a fear in her heart, a fear that  kept nagging her from within. Should she confide about it to someone? To Ma? Or, Priya - her best friend? She had grown tired and weary with all these thoughts swarming her mind. Her tears had dried, but the wound was still fresh.
     She didn't realise when she had fallen asleep when Baba came to wake her up. Amit was on the line, wanting to wish her a very good morning. "Hello, my sweet! Rise and shine!", he chirped; the cheerful tone trying valiantly to hide his guilt, but in vain. "I hope you slept well, Ishu.", he continued, trying to gauge Isha's frame of mind. "Yes, I slept okay. How are you?" Isha replied in a rather stiff voice."I couldn't sleep a wink, honey. Kept on thinking about you and feeling guilty as hell. Ishu, I want to make up to you, baby. Please, give me a chance." , he pleaded.
     "Okay. It's okay, Amit. Just promise me it will never ever happen again."Isha gave in. The next instant Amit was flying high, planning another date and what not. Charming her with his jokes and his lovey-dovey talk. Isha forgave him and decided to forget the matter and move ahead.
     They did go out for many more dates.Thankfully, uneventful dates! But, every time they did, Isha had a weird kind of feeling, an apprehension that gnawed at her, making her ill at ease. She really had to talk to someone, confide to some one, but she feared she might worry people unnecessarily. What if it was a spur of the moment reaction of Amit for having denied something? And, as if in answer to her question, it happened again.
     They had planned to meet at the theatre at 6 in the evening, but due to an extra lecture at college, Isha had been late in reaching the place. When she did reach the theatre, she saw Amit waving at her. But one look at him and she knew - she knew what lay in store for her. As she approached him with trepidation, she could feel herself losing her breath. And when she reached  Amit, she let out a "sorry sweetheart" in a voice that didn't seem to belong to her. Before she could explain the reason for her delay, there it was - a resounding slap and a hissing "you never keep me waiting, ever. You hear that?"
     Tears flooded her eyes, but she kept mum and looked around in embarrassment. People were staring at them, but Amit was least bothered. He simply grabbed her arm and dragged her away towards the taxi stand. He opened the  door of a waiting cab, pushed her inside, gave the cab driver a Rs 100 note and ordered him to drive her away to wherever she wanted.  As soon as the taxi sped off, Isha broke down. She sobbed uncontrollably. The cab driver kept asking her what the matter was, but she did not reply. Where was she headed? What lay in store for her? A thousand questions began buzzing inside her head.
     Never in her life had anybody been so cruel with her, hurt her so much. Her own father had never raised his voice, leave alone his hand at her. Isha - the gentlest of beings - had been the darling of her family and her friends. A beautiful, caring  girl, she  was the apple of her parents' eyes. Everyone in her family had always prayed for a suitably caring and loving life partner for her.  Isha - the one who had not a single mean bone in her body - had only love to offer to all whose lives she touched. And what a blow destiny had dealt her!
   History had repeated itself all over again. The beating followed by the apologies. The gifts that followed the slaps seemed to push Isha in a deep, endless pit that she was trying to get out of. What use were the gifts if there was no love in them? All those things were useless to her, even the ones that sparkled and shone. Her parents, though, were left enamoured by their future son-in-law and the attention he heaped upon their little girl. How happy Ma and Baba were! How could she break their hearts by telling them the truth about this man who now seemed a stranger to her?
     It happened again, and again, till she could take it no more.
 
 It was a Saturday when Ma and Baba were discussing about  the wedding preparations. Isha had been up in her room all day - thinking. Reflecting on  her beautiful and secure past and contemplating about  the uncertain and dreadful future. Did she really want all of  this? Did she want to spend the rest of her life with a man as violent, volatile and heartless as Amit? Confiding in her parents would mean leaving them feeling  distressed and guilty. And she didn't want that. Never. But she had to make a decision. And soon.
     She called up Amit and asked him to meet her the next day at their usual park. An excited Amit had yelled with joy. There would be a gift waiting for him, Isha had promised.
   
     The next day, Isha had taken care to get all dressed up. Ma had asked her what plans they had. She had replied she had quite a few plans up her sleeve and promised Ma she would be back soon. Back with news. Good news.
   Now walking towards the park, Isha noticed an eager Amit, pacing up and down. His eyes lit up the moment he saw her approaching - looking beautiful as ever.
     But, there was something about her that he couldn't put his finger on. Something that seemed out of place. Something in her eyes that seemed odd and something in her hands that she hid behind her back.

     Never before in her entire life had Isha done what she was about to do now. Baba had taught her to stand up for herself. Never tolerate injustice. And, never ever take things lying down. And now she was going to do just that.

   She approached Amit who was now sprinting towards her, bubbling with happiness. He was about to take her in his arms when out came a hockey stick and landed with a thud on his head! The look of disbelief in his eyes gave a different kind of 'high' that Isha had never felt before. She was panting now, breathing hard to stop herself from shedding tears. There had been enough of tears. Now there would be smiles, the smiles, the laughter, the happiness she so deserved.
     Another blow of the hockey stick landed on his arm. And then one more  on his  left arm. He howled in pain and his face was a crumpled mess of distorted features that seemed to belong to a different human being altogether. "What are you doing, Isha?" he screamed in pain.
   "The very same thing you did to me all these days, Amit. I simply wanted you to experience the pain I went through." Isha replied in a husky voice, every pore of her body bursting with a wild frenzy. "Amit, this is not the life I want to live, with a demon like you. I would much rather be alone than spend my life getting battered and bruised for no fault of mine."
     She moved towards a cowering and shivering Amit, grabbed a fistful of his hair and slapped him hard. Amit winced in pain as the thrashing continued. Isha - the loving, gentle Isha who had never swatted a fly in her life had metamorphosed into this brutal, vicious being that left Amit dumbstruck. He kept begging for her to stop, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. There was no stopping her.

      Finally, though, tired of his cries, Isha threw the hockey stick away. She then pulled out the engagement ring from her finger and threw it on his face, and  grabbed his hand to remove the ring she had so lovingly slipped onto his finger some months ago. And, finally, with a last resounding slap on her ex-fiance's  face, turned around and walked away.

     

Comments

  1. Wow, Shilpa way to go. Power to all women! I wish all women who face domestic abuse would be as brave as the character in your story!

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  2. Brilliantly told, Shilpa. I hope women read and take a cue from this story. I know a friend who has been through such a tribulation coz she was madly in love. I am glad shez out of the relationship and doing well for herself. I loove the climax.

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