Monday, November 13, 2006

Ammani's I Ask, You Write 8 - My story

Read the other entries to I Ask, You Write 8 here

Can you see Sarasa over there? Notice how she winces as she climbs the stairs. She's torn a ligament in her ankle. Ask her how she injured herself and she'll say something vague about tripping down the stairs and so on. But I think you know the real story.

But I do know the real story. I’m Sarasa’s best friend and Sarasa was telling the truth about tripping down the stairs. What she was vague about was how it had happened. I can tell you how, though, in one word – Mahalingam. No matter what he does to her, Sarasa will never, ever, EVER complain about her husband. He has the ultimate hold over her in the form of their daughter, Radhika. Did I say “their daughter”? I really meant “her daughter”. Sarasa’s daughter, but not Mahalingam’s.

Sarasa had made the one proverbial mistake when she was 18 years old, and paid for it in the one proverbial way - by getting pregnant. Her horrified mother married Sarasa off to Mahalingam, her younger brother - yes, Sarasa’s own uncle. It sounds horrible but that sort of marriage used to be traditional in villages, so although there were some raised eyebrows, there wasn’t any outrage as such.

It suited Mahalingam – he had always had an eye on attractive Sarasa. Also, I suppose he felt like a hero and to Sarasa, he was. He had not only saved her from certain disaster, but had even accepted another man’s daughter as his own. At first, that is. He was happy enough when Radhika was born but when the months passed and Sarasa did not get pregnant again, his attitude changed, slowly but surely. He took it as a personal affront, as if Sarasa was deliberately insulting his manhood. She was the uncomplaining outlet for his frustrations. To me she said that she understood his anger – and his threat to let Radhika know that she was illegitimate effectively ensured her silence.

I’m very worried for Sarasa, though. Mahalingam is getting progressively more violent. If I spoke up, Sarasa might be spared a few beatings, but if Mahalingam follows through on his threat to tell Radhika, Sarasa will never forgive me… and her suffering all these years will have been in vain. What do I do?

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