Sandriya

23 June 1997, 11:26 PM

Sandriya lay on his arms. Her gaze fixed on the white ceiling above. He was observing her.

What is it?”, he asked.

Silence

Sandriya, are you okay?”

Silence

He adjusts himself and brings his face directly over hers, interrupting her view.

Sandriya, talk to me”

She was looking at his eyes. But he could feel the gaze going through him as if he never existed. He brings his face closer to hers. There is a gentle touch of lips, which soon starts to get intense. She blinks.

Sandriya!”

She returns a smile. They kiss again.

What happened?”, he asked.

Nothing”, she replied.

Tell me. Tell me what the problem is”

I– I just want some coffee”

At this hour?”

I have a headache”

A headache? I’ll get the pills”

No. Wait. I– The headache’s gone”

What is happening to you? Are you feeling uncomfortable with me?”, he asked.

NO! No. I love you. I have always loved you and will continue to do so”

He holds her hand and brings her closer to him.

Is it about your home? About your dad? About that incident in Tri–”

Sshhh! Do not speak that name. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to remember it. I don’t want to go through it again”

He can see that there is fear in her eyes.

Forget it. I love you. And you love me. Come here”, he brings her closer for another kiss. But she resists.

Forget it. Forget it. It is funny, isnt it? When you try to forget a particular thing, you already are thinking about it. How will I be able to forget it? I want to forget it but I can’t. Those incidents are fresh in my mind”

That incident never took place. You know it. It is all in your mind”

NO”, she starts shouting “NO, that is what I was made to think, by you and the others. I know the truth. How can I forget that room in which I was locked? I can feel those cold walls. Darkness everywhere. I was just twelve years old. JUST TWELVE YEARS OLD”

She gets up and starts walking around the room.

She continues: “There is only one source of light. A small peephole. And no warmth. No furniture. I sit there in fear, not taking my eye off the door. That click sound of the door opening was my nightmare. That face which stares at me when the door is opened. That smiling face. And it would come closer. And closer. And closer.”

He holds her tightly. There is a struggle.

Sandriya. Stop”

She screams loudly and her eyes widen.

Let-go-of-me. Let go of me, dad. NO”

She pushes him and he falls on the bed.

And it was the same everyday. You would come in there with that face. And the things that you do. I was just a little girl. YOUR LITTLE GIRL”

He gets up quickly, and holds her hands and slaps her in the face. “Sandriya. STOP”

Silence. Tears roll down her eyes. He cups her head in his hands and brings it closer to his face.

I was tortured. Abused. It continued for years. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. It was hell”

She was panting. He was too.

I know. I know”, he said.

She continues: “I called him ‘Dad’, but I do not know whether he was really my dad. I do not know who or where my mom was. I do not know who gave me that name. Sandriya. Tell me, what does it mean?”

What?”

The name ‘Sandriya’. Tell me what it means”

I don’t know”, he said.

She looks down and drops of tears fall on the carpet. After a long pause, she says:

I escaped that place. It was very difficult, but I did it. I ran as far as my legs took me. I did not look back. I do not know for how long I ran, but I had reached the next town. I hid amongst the bushes and there I fainted. When I woke up, I was in a house. Do you remember?

Yes”, he replied, “I do. I saw you the next morning. You were lying there, among the bushes. I took you in”

She looks in his eyes.

It was a new life for me in your home, in your hands. You transformed me. I had started to taste that thing called love. After all that I suffered, I thought I deserved it. And the sufferings, the tortures started to fade away. I loved you. I still love you.”

I love you too”, he said.

I cherished each and every day that I spent with you. I started going out, to buy the groceries. I love you but I hate your cooking. Where did you learn to cook like that?”

He smiles

And the house was in need of repair. And it looked very boring. I remember going out to buy some lanterns for the front–”, her expression changes. Her eyes widen. “I remember. I came back in the evening. I opened the door. I sensed something disturbing. I didn’t know what it was then. I remember coming to the bedroom. There was blood. BLOOD EVERYWHERE”.

There was a panic in her voice. “I remember seeing you in a pool of blood. And the next instant, I was surrounded by my dad’s men. They grabbed me. There were five of them. One of them drew out an iron rod and started to hit you in the face”

She starts panting again. “And-they-made-me-watch-it. Watch-you. Your-face. And-when-they-were-done-they-turned-in-my-direction. I stood there silently. A sob escaped me. That was all. I was tortured and taken back to my house. I was put back in that old room. And a few minutes later, that familiar face showed up. It got closer and closer. But I stood silently. I stood silently. He got closer. And I shouted. Shouted at the top of my voice. The shouting continued for minutes, hours, days. I shouted and ran around the room. I jumped. I hit the walls with my hands and legs. I shouted and shouted. I shouted…”

*****

‘On 22 August 1994, the local daily reported of a news that made quite a fuss in the town. It reported about the death of a 17-year-old girl, Sandriya, who was physically and sexually abused and tortured. It also reported of the death of a 21-year-old man from the nearby town. The police are yet to confirm the identity of the…’

*****

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