I recently read a lot of letters through Count Santulan’s 30 Days 30 Letters Challenge. Some awesome ones on the host’s blog and few of my favourites on Shail’s Nest. I have been writing letters since the age of five when my Dad went saath samundar paar for work. The next ten years I knew him only through the multiple letters, a few rationed phone calls and occasional visits. I also wrote letters to a very dear friend Latha whom I lost to a tragedy in 1997. And then I read Kajal’s Letter to the Unborn Child which was beyond words. Inspired by these letters I picked up this half-written letter from the drafts and managed to complete it.
Dear Maa and Baba,
As a child, I have always envied Bhai for the immense love you showered upon him. There was always a difference in the way you dealt with the two of us. This made me feel the gap and I was always in an effort to bridge that gap. That’s exactly why I put all my efforts in my studies. I thought my grades could help me gain your love. If it was not for the scholarship that I won, I knew you were ready to pull me out of school on Daadi’s orders.
Maa, you were always rude towards me reflecting your strong dislike for me. I know it was because you had to bear the pain of the hateful words from everyone when you gave birth to a girl child, the first in the family. Thankfully, you didn’t choose to kill me for whatever reason. But you conveniently decided to stay aloof. I always longed for that same caressing that Bhai got when he lay down in your lap after that afternoon meal. I always longed for a bite of the parantha that you lovingly fed Bhai with. I always expected to receive a surprise toffee or a ladoo inside my lunch-box like Bhai got. I always waited for you to wipe off my face with the loose end of your saree just like you did for Bhai. I always longed for that sweet kiss that you gave a sleeping Bhai before retiring for the day. But you chose to pretend you were busy or that you aren’t aware of my longing.
Baba, I stood by the railing of the balcony waiting for you to call me for a ride on your Bajaj Chetak just like you took Bhai every night. I waited for that one hug from you which I never got. I waited all along to get a glimpse of yours on my report cards but you stole your gaze and pretended to be busy every single time. I can still feel the pride in yours eyes that I saw when I came back with that gold medal. I wanted both of you to be there for my convocation ceremony, but you chose to go to Minister Saab and beg for an engineering college seat for Bhai. Baba, I can still feel the wetness of your tears that fell on my head when I placed my first salary in your hands, bowed down and touched your feet for blessings. Instead of placing your hand on my head and encouraging me, you chose to wipe off those tears of love and pride. Instead you put that money down saying our house doesn’t run on the money earned by females. You were so proud yet unable to express it for fear. You always believed that girls should not be encouraged. Not your fault. You were conditioned that way.
I know how much you hate me for falling in love with a guy from a different caste. You cursed me day and night. But why wouldn’t I fall for someone who gave me everything that you couldn’t. Yes. He gave me the love, the care, the attention that I deserved from both of you. To me he was not just a man I loved, but someone who loved me back, listened to me patiently and understood me. His love helped me get over the grief of the lack of your love and attention. In a way, your neglect is what was responsible for this relationship.
You shut the door on my face when I chose to marry him against your wishes even after strong opposition and imprisonment. You never bothered to even check about my well-being though I stayed just a block away. With trembling hands and a weeping heart I had signed a police complaint against Bhai and you because I had to save my husband from the goons that Bhai hired. Trust me Baba, God knows that till date I haven’t been able to forgive myself for that signature.
For a short while life was bliss because I chose to ignore the warning signs and accepted everything that my in-laws wanted me to do. What else could a girl without any support from maternal home do? I quit my job as they didn’t want me to work. I guess that’s the biggest mistake I made. I had to undergo three abortions in two years because my mother-in-law got the prenatal sex determination tests done and I was carrying baby girls. Maa, my first abortion is when I understood that you didn’t just dislike me, but you hated me from the core of your heart for being one from your own tribe. I honestly couldn’t bear to see them killing my unborn daughters. I wanted to hug them tight. I wanted to caress them. I wanted to kiss them all over. I wanted to feed them lovingly. I wanted to enjoy being a loving mother to them. I wanted to relive my lost childhood with theirs. I wanted to be a mother to them that you weren’t to me. But Maa, I couldn’t save them. They killed them right in front of my eyes and I just lay there semi-conscious and completely helpless.
Three months ago my husband met with an accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. My mother-in-law still wishes to have a heir for the family. She is now forcing me to sleep with my brother-in-law. She has even consulted her family astrologer and decided on a muhurat so that the child born out of this union is a boy. My helpless husband cannot do anything but shed tears silently lying on his bed. Mother-in-law has threatened me that if this again is a girl, she’ll make me sleep with my father-in-law.
I cannot let this happen to myself. I cannot let this happen to my unborn babies. I am tired. I’m helpless. That’s exactly why I chose this muhurat to light the candle. With that blast of the cylinder, I felt so relieved. Every inch of my body was burning into ashes. Even while I cried out of severe pain, deep within I was glad that I managed to escape the wrath of this cruel world. Maa and Baba, honestly I did wish you both to be there next to me in those last minutes just to tell me once in my lifetime that you did love me with all your heart. Alas!
I’m sure you wouldn’t have cared to even see my charred body one last time. No child can escape the curse of their parents. Isn’t it? But, I could. Because I chose to escape. I hope my death would have restored your lost family honor. I hope my death would have made it easier for my husband. I hope my death would have taught my in-laws a lesson.
I want to come back and relive my life all over again, the way I want it, with all the deserved love and attention. I’ll be waiting for that day Maa, when you can happily hold me in your arms and kiss me again and again. I’ll be waiting for that day Baba, when you’ll proudly show my certificates and medals to your friends and colleagues. I’ll be waiting for that day Maa and Baba when you’ll not be ashamed of accepting that you have a daughter. I’ll be waiting for that day when I can decide whether I want to have children or not. I’ll be waiting for that day when I won’t have to worry about whether my unborn baby is a boy or a girl. I’ll be waiting till I will have complete control over my life.
Always yearning for your love,