Caution: This is a rather looooooooong post. Kick back, relax, grab a drink, or your energy drink, maybe. You’ll really need your strength to get through this one 😉
Sorry for keeping you guys waiting for the next part.
That Manila folder you gave me, and it’s contents lay in front of me on the damp table of the dhaba we had visited on our first date.
Some laminated, carefully maintained, newspaper clippings talked in lurid detail of a young PE teacher and a school girl, both from reputed families, involved in an affair. That was you. That’s what Sushant had told me too.
Another newspaper clipping read that the PE teacher committed suicide at his residence a couple of months later. His suicide note said –
I am guilty
Obviously he meant he was guilty for what he had done to you.
He died of a deliberate overdose of drugs. His family had been pressuring him to enter rehab, or so the newspapers reported.
There were other newspaper reports on how you were blamed, how your family faced a lot of criticism, how you were painted ‘the town-whore’ by all the ‘respectable’ people of the town.
All you did was repeat, ‘I was cheated…’
She was involved with my brother… older brother. We’d received her family at our place so many times! Her father was a good man… excellent doctor, one of the best in our town. She sullied it all… his name, his fortune, his social status, respectability… She ensnared my brother when he joined their school as the new PE Teacher. He was simultaneously preparing himself for the year’s National Boxing Meet… He had a bright future… He had a lot of promise…
But she came along and ruined it all…
She got him involved in all sorts of things – drugs, liquor, oscenity. They were found in a compromising situation by one of the teachers. My Father could save him only because he had influence in the school. He was MLA and the Trustee of the school. He tried saving her too but there were too many incidents involving her. My brother wasn’t the first she had been involved with. Other teachers claimed she had made advances at them too. The Principal had to expel her. Parents were baying for her blood.
The town was buzzing with talk about her. There were news reporters, media tormenting our families for snippets, pictures. Rumors were rampant. They nearly cost my father his seat in the State Legislature. She was in the midst of it all, telling the media that she was cheated… lured by him, in fact.
And she took her revenge… She’s the reason he’s dead. He couldn’t bear that she was going through all of it because of him…
Sushant’s sad, lost look, as he told me of his brother’s past, swam before my eyes. He seemed genuinely worried for me and he told me to leave you forever, not even say goodbyes or whatever. To prove what he was saying was true, he had asked me to look it up on the internet. I did. And it was true. And I cried. I was beside myself with grief and disbelief. The more I read those news reports the more my disbelief and heartache grew. I hadn’t slept one wink that night. And by the crack of dawn, I had decided, inspite of what Sushant had told me, I would demand an explanation from you and break-up with you.
But I hadn’t expected this…
An Anomaly Scan report lay before me, along with the Ultrasound images of what seemed like an oval cavity with something with a head curled up inside. I’d seen enough movies to know what it was. The report clearly spelled your name, your assumed name though, Pihu, not your real one. The fetus was 12 weeks old. And it was dated from around the time when the news reports started.
You were pregnant with his child…
Just how screwed up could things get? Oh, but the surprises didn’t stop there!
There was another report. A discharge report from a hospital that reported of stab wounds to the gut, multiple wounds on the stomach and back, stitches on the temple…. and… loss of the fetus. All on your body. It didn’t take a genius to know who did it to you.
Then there was the pages of explanation you’d written for me –
I know by now you hate me. And I know that maybe my writing this is useless. But I wanted to tell you the truth about me for a long time. Believe me. I just didn’t want to tell you like this… when it’s over. When it’s no use at all. But here goes…
I don’t know what Sushant may have told you. He and his lying MLA family has dragged my name in the dirt all along, so naturally he had plenty evidence to prove that he was right. But all I have are these medical reports, the scars on me and my story, if you’ll believe it.
He was always a leche, Sushant’s brother, Rajiv. And always careful to not let it show. I wasn’t the first to be entrapped by him. There was another girl from my tuition classes who had to eventually leave town because he threatened her. She had warned me about him. But naive that I was back then (I was only 15), I got trapped by his saccharine sweet words, his gifts, his claims of love and his dogged pursuit of me till I succumbed and said yes. And he did all of this discreetly. Hidden messages. Different phone numbers. A posse of minions who carried out his illegal and immoral activities, and were scared into silence by his Father’s name. No wonder no one ever suspected a thing in him.
But I… it was my first time, my first love, and I embraced it wholeheartedly. He would keep telling me not to be too public about us, but I wouldn’t pay him any heed. I told my friends. I suspect the teachers knew. My family too. And though they were not okay with it because of the age gap and the teacher-student thing, I think they were going to be fine when we came of age, because he came from a good family. We had been invited over to their place so many times. But even there he would be very formal with me, almost to the point of ignoring me. Still I never suspected a thing. I thought he was just shy. He would always make up to me later with more gifts, more love.
That’s why I never said ‘no’ to him for anything… Not even for that. He made me believe that we’d be wed when I turned 18. Unfortunately, one day we were caught kissing by another Teacher… and then he changed. Everything changed!
Suddenly I was being ignored by him, hounded by teachers, parents, our families alike for being the temptress. Suddenly I was the one being expelled from school. My name was all over the papers, on the local news. Neighbours cut me and my family off from the social scene. And in the middle of this nightmare, I discovered I was pregnant!
Believe me, I wanted to kill myself… end it all! But stupidly enough I thought, I still had hope, that maybe he’ll have a change of heart if I told him about the baby. I managed to find him alone at his gym one day while he was practicing and showed him the Ultrasound report.
He feigned concern, told me he still loved me, that he’d never leave me alone in this, and asked me to go back home and wait for him to come to me.
Only, when I reached home, his goons were waiting for me instead.
I was stabbed, kicked in the stomach several times, my skull was broken open, all with an intent to kill me and what I was carrying within me. They were going to take me and dump me in the river that runs through our town, but my Father returned just then and raised an alarm. If my Father hadn’t rushed me to the hospital, I would not have survived.
When we tried pressing charges, we were threatened by his family. Nobody in the town would’ve spoken against them anyway. But they turned the media against us too. The attack on me was labelled a ‘hate crime’ instigated by an ‘enraged, unidentified group of people who hated my depravity’. I had no help from any quarter. I was left all alone to face it all. To top it all, I was badly wounded, barely alive, and even now sometimes the pain in my gut is so strong that I have to take twice the amount of painkillers a normal person should take. But I fought it all. I was determined to make a new life for myself. That’s when ‘Pihu’ was born for real, not just in name.
But months later when he committed suicide, the storm started yet again; yet again I was hounded by the same people, who were this time accusing me of somehow murdering Rajiv. It got to the point where I was being openly abused, pelted with stones and garbage whenever I was seen outside. My Father, who had till now kept me under house-arrest, finally decided to send me away to a hostel. His practice was as good as over. He survived only because of that officer, who interrogated you and me at the Police Station. He and my Father are good friends. He somehow got my Father a job at the City Hospital, but I could never go back to that town. And I didn’t want to either. It had taken too much from me…
Tell me how was I supposed to tell you all of this? Who would believe me? Which guy in his right mind would still be with me if he knew all this?
But even now I don’t blame you. This is my fate. This is my cross. I have to live with it.
Only, I wanted to tell you my way, because I loved you too much to lose you like this. But it’s no use now. I know even when you have read this you will never come back to me. Who wants a broken, twisted, used piece of furniture, right?
I swear I’ll never forgive that Sushant and his family for all that they have cost me in this life. I’ve lost my everything because of them. I wish there were some way I could pay them back for it, scar by scar, abuse by abuse, hurt by hurt.
I swear on our broken love that I will destroy his family!
But you shouldn’t bother about any of that. I will never hold a grudge against you, I’ll never, ever harm you. I could never bear to.
In the end all I’ll ask of you is this…. Never think that I wanted to dupe you into believing I was someone else forever. My love for you was pure and good….it still is.
I’ll always love you…
To Be Continued…
(If you wish to read the previous parts of this Novella, click on this link – ‘Novellas‘, and you’ll find all the parts there, in reverse chronological order.)