Every little boy grows up admiring his father, dreaming to be a man like him. The greatest nightmare of my entire childhood was a dark silhouette of the man whom my mother married. I irked with disgust when people told me how I resembled my father as a child and will soon claim his shoes. ‘I would never step into his shoes’ I was determined. But the day I saw my reflection in the terrified eyes of my 5 year old son, I was shaken with fear. I had evoked the inner devil and evolved into the man I hated all through, the man I would never forgive, my father.
My son, burying his face into the pillow, making every possible effort to avoid eye contact with me, was just a splitting image of myself as a child. My childhood completes with the horrifying memories of my father rampantly torturing my mother. He was never a man of the best temperament to begin with. Things worsened when he lost his job. Maa spent her mornings working as a cashier in a local bank, and the evening playing the punch bag to her husband, absorbing his unreasonable blows of insecurity, inferiority, suspicion, and all other forces that fuse together in human nature and transform a man into a devil of the worst form. The bruises have faded away from Maa’s nape, waist, and back, but are imprinted on my mind for life. The sight of my father hurling heavy kicks my mother’s abdomen and her screeches, her tormented face, her rushing tears, the pain which stemmed partially from the unbearable physical torture inflicted on her, and majorly from the fear of losing the child inside, still haunt me, they have been chasing me throughout my life. There have been countless nights, I shuddered out of my sleep, fearing, perhaps he has started with his ruinous dance of destruction again. When that man, a dirty part of whose body led to my existence, would place pieces of burning charcoals on Maa’s hand for missing on the perfect amount of salt in his daal, I would stand cold like a statue made up of stone to witness his orgy, weak with powerlessness, full with envy for that brother (or sister) who escaped facing this unspeakable sight, who breathed last inside my mother womb, without having to see the light of the day. Why was I not him, or her? Why was I chosen by God to bystand this heinosity? As a grown man I have loathed my impotency more than any other evil on this planet. If only I could protect my mother from that man, I wish so bad. I could never comprehend why my mother cried her heart out the day my father died, I’d like to believe they were tears of joy, but they were not. She was mourning that man’s death while I was breathing the air of assurance. Assurance that this woman will never face that man again. He is gone for good. He will never come back.
But I was delusional. He had left his soul in me. The evil spirit grew dormantly in some inconspicuous corner of my existence and woke up today to dominate my whole personality with all its power. Henna didn’t do anything wrong. She is by far the best wife any man can ever ask for. All she did was to stay back in office for 3 hours, and I am in complete cognizance of the tight deadline she has to meet. She had to work on this project with Roshan, I know that their equation is nothing but professional. But there is a part of me which was bloated with envy. Envy, because Roshan is better looking, more qualified, or more successful? No, this envy, that worked me up to raise my hand on Henna today, defies every possible explanation I can imagine to rest my case. I have become, whom I have hated the most every waking second. My mother has lived a peaceful life since the past 12 years, assured that she will never have to see that beast again. She remains oblivious to a truth which gradually surfaced and proved me to be nothing but an ugly remanence of him. But it was just a momentary outburst. I am not the person Sonu bumped into today. My mother treats Henna as a daughter she bore out of her own womb. I can’t gaze what her reaction might be on learning that the haplessness she had put up with for 15 long years has now been passed on to her daughter-in-law as inheritance. Will they ever forgive me? My mother, Henna, or Sonu? Even if they do, will I ever be able to forgive myself?