“We should throw these bastards out of our country! They have spoilt our culture. Our ancestors took pity on them and let them stay. And look what they do. They kill our brethrens; and rape our mothers and sisters! Don’t spare theirs’! Let their entire breed get terrified and not step out of their holes! This country needs your help my brothers, rise to the occasion, heed the call…” blared the recorder on my father-in-law’s desk. This was one of the speeches of his ‘Sanskaar Rakshak Samiti’ who considered themselves to be the saviours of our culture. They believed that India’s future lay in the hands of those sexagenarians and not in their younger generations’.
My five year old son woke up to this daily dose of crap. His grandfather was his idol, hence he considered himself to be a liberator too. I was sick and tired of this. I tried to reason with my father-in-law once. But it fell on deaf ears. That night my husband threw me out of our room for ‘being an ungrateful daughter-in-law’. I quit... Thereafter, I kept my opinions to myself.
Today was a bleak day. It rained incessantly. And the speech gave me creepy goosebumps. At that moment our doorbell rang. I opened it and saw one of those saviours outside, wet and dripping. He introduced himself as Krishnakanth and asked for my father-in-law who had gone to the temple. It was an unsaid rule that his friends were to be treated as family. So I invited him in, offered him dry towel and fresh pair of clothes, and asked if he would like to have something.
I went to the kitchen feeling awkward. No one was at home and I was alone with a stranger. Nevertheless, I started to prepare tea for him. My father-in-law treated his ‘friends’ with special home made cookies. It was in the upper-most shelf where I couldn’t reach. I tried to, but lost the balance and fell. Hearing the commotion, Krishnakanth came running to the kitchen. “Child, are you alright?” he asked from the doorway. I nodded. He came to me, caught my hand, and grabbed at my waist where my sari had come down. I recoiled and pushed him away. He said, “I was trying to help you.” I retorted, “I can manage, thanks!” He moved closer with a wolf like smile saying, “It’s okay, no one will know”. He was almost on me. I had sprained my ankle and couldn’t stand. Yet I dragged myself up and tried to run. He caught me from behind and rubbed his cheek and lips between my neck. I freed myself and ran out. He followed me. But before he could seize me, my father-in-law’s voice drifted in. He shot me a look of warning and went inside as if nothing happened. Smoke was coming from the kitchen. Our house stank of the charcoaled tea. I rushed in forgetting my pain.
My father-in-law walked in, followed by my husband and son, shouting, “What were you doing? Why is there such a mess? Focus on what you do instead of wasting time. What would be our guest thinking? He is the leader of our committee, whose speech we listen to every morning. You will bring disgrace to our family! Parth, control your wife before it’s too late!” saying so, he stomped away. My husband looked at me and shrugged. His eyes telling, “What am I to do with you?” He too walked away, with my son behind him, leaving me alone to fight my insult, injury and tears…