Kavita Nalawde

Coffee @ 4:00 (Look inside..)

Geeta maintained her distance for many days but slowly fell for his charm and began speaking to him. Vinod knew how to speak and soon Geeta started to open up. Love they say, has a very strange effect on a person and Geeta felt it as well. She had become completely oblivious to everything else now. She felt that her life had become beautiful and she didn’t mind the constant nagging of her aunt. It was a regular morning routine for her aunt to start the day with one sarcastic remark. The only day her aunt would be good to her was on payday as Geeta gave the entire salary to her. The next day would be the same and her aunt would continue with the regular abuse.
Geeta and Vinod started seeing each other more often and soon decided to marry. Her uncle had stopped working recently and the prospect of losing the monthly earnings that Geeta brought home was too much for her aunt to digest. She was completely opposed to her marriage. She told Geeta how rubbish Vinod was and he would definitely cheat her one day and then there would be nowhere for Geeta to go.
Geeta was in two minds. She had completely understood the fact that there was no chance of her ever getting married whilst she was in her uncle’s house but she had this gratitude for him as well. He had worked hard to get her educated and now when he had retired she had to support him. She had to make a decision. She could either remain a slave at her aunt’s place for life or elope with Vinod. She couldn't lose this opportunity to break free and decided that she will continue to support her uncle even after she got married.
One morning she went to work as usual and met Vinod halfway. They went to their local Arya Samaj centre and got married with just a couple of friends to witness their marriage. Her uncle was sad that she had to run away from the house to get married. He had always thought that it was his duty to find a suitable boy and give her hand in marriage but he was also aware of his financial status. He could never have done it realistically. Thus with a heavy heart but with a smile on his face he blessed the couple when they came to meet him at their house after their hidden wedding. Geeta knew that he was the only person in this whole wide world who was a well-wisher and would be happy for her. Her aunt on the other hand was obviously very displeased. She told her off for running away without thinking about her cousins. She called her selfish and pitiless.
Geeta left her uncle’s house with a heavy heart and crossed the road to go to the opposite chawl. Geeta’s married life thus began with a sort of turbulence that never ended. Within a few weeks she realised that Vinod was not the person he had shown himself to be. All the words and phrases that he had told earlier were part of a cunning plan. He was a very big drug addict and Geeta was the means to fulfil this habit. He was very demanding and dominating. She felt that her life didn’t change much after marriage. She used to give her salary to her aunt earlier and now Vinod would snatch it from her. She was a slave in her aunt’s place earlier and she was a slave in Vinod’s house now. Geeta had decided that she will continue to give some money to her uncle but Vinod barely left anything for her or the house. She was used to her aunt passing sarcastic remarks before but she was zapped to hear the verbal abuse that came from Vinod’s mouth every day. Geeta felt more and more frustrated as the days went by but she knew she couldn’t go back to her uncle’s house as her aunt wouldn’t spare her.
Vinod regularly came home late at night completely drunk. All he would do was ask for his dinner and demand sex. There was not much use declining as he would hit her on hearing even the slightest ‘No’. Geeta started to become more and more depressed with each passing day as the physical and mental abuse continued. There was no such thing as marital bliss in her life and she sometimes used to question herself if she did the right thing by loving this person or was she a fool in love?
One day Vinod brought a stranger home. He took Geeta to the kitchen and said, ‘this guy is my boss. All you have to do is please him and he will give me a promotion at work.’
‘What do you mean?’ Geeta asked angrily.
‘Simple. You are a beautiful woman and you have to show your charm. That’s it. He is very easy to please and the whole thing will be done in minutes.’
Geeta was outraged. Vinod was a lazy person and never reached his office on time. Infact his addiction was so bad that he wouldn’t go to work at all on some days. There was no chance of him ever getting a promotion. She couldn’t believe her ears. Her own husband wanted her to sleep with his boss for the sake of a promotion and where would all his earnings go? It would go to the same bottomless pit of drugs.
‘Are you out of your mind?’ Geeta said with anger.
‘Why are you getting so angry?’ Vinod said catching her hand tightly.
‘What type of a man you are asking your wife to do this dirty act? Is this the reason why you married me? I am never going to do what you want,’ Geeta was shaking violently with anger.
Geeta’s refusal somewhat surprised Vinod as he had always considered Geeta as his sole property or slave rather than his wife. He thought that he was the master of the house and Geeta had to accept his command. There had been a number of episodes in the past where he had coaxed Geeta into submission but this time her reaction was completely different.
Geeta’s negative answer irked him and he gave her a big slap on the cheek. Geeta was shocked to see this side of Vinod. He had been physical with her in the past but this was totally out of sync. He was no longer the charmer she had fallen in love with but had turned into a monster. A monster, whose addiction to drugs had taken control of his senses. She came out of the kitchen to see the stranger smiling at her and it was a very cunning smile. Geeta knew at once that he would not give anything to Vinod once his deed with Geeta was over. More important of all Geeta didn’t want to disgrace herself in front of anyone.
She asked Vinod’s boss to get out and he stood up angrily.
Vinod gave her another slap and said to him ‘Sir ji, you wait she will become all right once I have given her the dose.’
Geeta’s mind was racing. She couldn’t bow down to Vinod’s wishes. She was not his pet animal who required training. Once she agrees with one person there might be others coming to their house very soon. Geeta understood that there was no life here and she had to think super fast. She gave one last look to both the men and ran out of the house. She ran as fast as she could and the farther that she could go. She didn’t even stop to look behind. It was so late in the night that people were looking at her with strange eyes. She saw the train station and jumped inside the train that was about to leave. It was probably the last train going to town and there was no one in the ladies compartment except for this lady in a black dress sitting at the corner of the carriage.

Geeta sat down on one of the seats. The lady in black was looking at her now. Geeta looked at herself. She was wearing a very old colour faded dress. Her hair was in a mess and she had no shoes on her feet. She didn’t have any money and she didn’t know where she was going. She stood up and went near the open train door. The wind blowing outside was making her shiver but somehow she was finding it very peaceful. There were tears in her eyes and she knew she had lost, lost the battle of her married life. She clutched the mangal sutra around her neck very tightly with one hand and ripped it off. She looked at it with teary eyes and threw it outside. The mangal sutra broke into millions of black and golden beads. She had hoped in her mind that her marriage would survive but her feelings were crushed like the beads in her wedding chain. She rubbed her hand gently around the back of her neck where her chain had left a small bruise. She felt like her marriage had also created a similar scar on her soul. The bruise on her neck hurt but not as badly as her jaw that had been battered by Vinod. She couldn’t go to her aunt’s house to hear any more sarcastic comments. She was definitely not going back to Vinod as there was no point of her running away today if she had to face the same man tomorrow. Her lip was swollen from the slap and her cheeks pained. She decided to jump on the tracks as committing suicide was the best option. She would be free of all her troubles and the train tracks were looking more inviting than her life. She was about to jump when a stern hand stopped her. It was the same lady in black dress.