The Remission

A wild dog called out from somewhere in the forest. She sighed and looked back at her footsteps that were no longer visible. She could make out nothing around her except the darkness, the turbulent torrent and wild dogs for company. Not an ideal place to spend the evening in. But still the environ gave her warmth, a feeling of serenity. How ironic! River

Mrs. Chatterji, her 69 year old neighbour had said, “Peace is realized after war and love after hatred”. They all had always advised her to listen to Mrs. Chatterji. After all she had seen the world for 69 years! But Piyali now knew better. She herself had seen enough of her world to know what it had left to offer her. The genius loci were supposed to do wonders or so the brochure had promised. But after what seemed like an eternity, she had neither found peace and love nor her answers. . She had come out into the lap of nature to forget and forgive. Forgive? Maybe…. After all women are made so as to forgive, but forget? Never! She sat down on a cluster of rocks and looked up and remembered the day it had all started….. 2 years ago. The day she had met Shantanu.

A wild party in a newly opened pub- Cocaine. Piyali sat pretty on the sofa after an hour of continuous boogieing. “Wow! You really know how to move”. “Excuse me? That was the lamest pick up line ever “. Piyali scowled. “Really?” said the man. “I knew it! I had told him so. Sorry. “The man stuttered and then added, “I… I… am Shantanu Dutta. That guy over there, Roudra. Well… he gave me the line and said it had worked well for him. So…I gave it a try.” Seeing the quizzical look on her face, he added sheepishly, “You see.. I think you are really pretty. And … I just wanted to say hello.” “So I don’t really move that well “, enquired Piyali smiling. The man’s anxious face broke into a grin and he sat down. That was the beginning of a wonderful round of tête-à-tête. And what an evening it was! A smile had crept onto her bruised face but it was gone the next second.

Something croaked in the nearby bush and Piyali turned her thoughts to the year before. It had been a nightmare. The constant languish, the long hours of steely silence and the abuse. It didn’t hurt now as much as it had then but it had to end! Either that or her. She had lost her friends, family, her self because of him. Then her child….. And someday even her life.

She heard the dog again. Maybe the dog was crying for her. The thought made her sit straighter. Probably nature’s way to tell her to act now. Or maybe she had watched too much of Pocahontas. Today’s abuse had been the worst. Earlier it had been confined to their world but today! How he had knocked her over and punched her in front of the bellboy. A tear trickled down her cheek as she touched her left side of the face. Her lips were bleeding and her eyes never got a chance to heal. She heaved… She had once been pretty.

Mrs. Chatterji had said, “A vacation will do you good. Both of you look tired and weary. I know someone in Dirang. Go ahead ma. I’ll talk to Shantanu.” Tired? Ah yes! Tired of hitting and tired of being on the receivers end. Her fists were clenched and a low mumble escaped her as she thought of the night of her miscarriage.

A baby that symbolizes love and intimacy, had been killed even before it came into the world. Piyali sometimes thought of it as fortunate. He would have taken it away from her anyway. At least she didn’t have to see the baby go. She stood up and walked closer to the stream.

She had made up her mind. She’ll end her marriage. She’ll tell him right now. If he hits her she would have to stop him or ask for help. Its got to stop.

There was a faint sound from the bush. A hand encircled Piyali’s waist. “It is getting cold here. Cholo, lets go back to the hotel. Forget about what happened ok?” Piyali merely nodded, turned to follow Shantanu, his hand clutching hers. A single tear ran down her face. Maybe women are made so as to forgive and forget.

And a dog cried louder from somewhere in the forest.

Shruti Choudhury