Daughters in Law- Part 2
By Thiyam Ningol, Dr. Nalini, Africa
The next day morning Rehema came to call Asha for breakfast. She was surprised to find Asha still in the bridal dress; seated in the same place she left her the day before. The tears had washed the makeup of her face away. Her swollen eyelids and blank stare sent a chill feeling in Rehema’s spine. She sat down on the bed near Asha, gathered the stray hairs flying around Asha’s face, tugged it behind the ear and with a shaky voice asked about her brother.
- My brother did not come to the room?
- He has gone forever to his wife, Asha whispered.
- But you are------the sentence remained incomplete, hanging in the air.
Both of them sat silently, everyone in deep thoughts. Rehema understood the pain, the shame, the anguish her best friend was undergoing at that moment. She felt guilty of being one of the people who led her friend to that trap. She could not say anything.
Her mother was calling out her name again reminding about the breakfast.
- “Asha, I am terribly sorry. I don’t even know how to explain…” Rehema
could not control herself. She started sobbing, begged Asha to forgive her. But Asha remained unstirred.
When no response came from Rehema, her mother walked in the room also. Her mouth remained gapped after witnessing the atmosphere in the room. Rehema stood up suddenly, pulled her mother by the hands and walked out together.
-“It is all your fault mother” Rehema snapped at her mother, “I requested you to leave my friend alone. Now she is ruined, I hate you. I love my friend but now look at me- I can’t even say sorry to her”. She sobbed louder. Her mother embraced her and led to her own room.
After some time when she was calmer, Rehema explained to her mother what Asha told her and again she continued sobbing.
- I did not do it with a bad intention. I love Asha like my own daughter too. I thought…, I imagined that she would be able to bring back the lost glory of our family. I cannot undo what I have done, but I promise you I will stand by her, your friend, my daughter in law.
- Mother, you promise? You will not chase away Asha if she agrees to stay with us?
- Yes my dear, I will support her decision.
Asha stood up, walked in the bathroom. Opened the shower full and stood under the shower with her full bridal dress on. She allowed the cool streams of water fall on her head. When the water trickled on her body, it was already warm, heated by the boiling anger in her mind. She stood still, eyes closed, focused on future, water pouring on her head.
When Rehema and her mother came in to see Asha, she was not on the bed. They heard the shower running. They sat down and waited. More than half an hour passed. Asha never came out. Rehema started panicking. She knocked on the door and called out-
“ Asha! Me and mummy are waiting for you. We want to talk to you. Come out.”
At that moment Asha had reached a conclusion- to complete her studies and in the meantime to watch and plan her steps. Time was what she needed.
She came out with the dripping cloths. She looked more poised but the appearance frightened the mother and daughter. Rehema ran towards her, hugged her and asked for forgiveness. She helped Asha to change her cloths.
Slowly the three of them sat on the mat, spread on the floor.
- We understand you, Asha. We have made terrible mistakes. Please tell us what we can do to help you.
- Can I stay with you till I finish my nursing course?
- This is your house my child. You don’t need permission. We will be more than happy to be with you.
She seldom spoke after that day, only the very necessary ones. She felt uncomfortable to occupy the biggest room in the house by herself alone while in the remaining two rooms, the other 6 family members squashed in; mother, father and the youngest son in one room and in the other, Rehema shared with her elder sister and younger sister.
Only four people in the house, Asha, Rehema and her parents knew exactly what happened to the wedded life of Asha. Rehema’s elder sister, the mentally retarded girl, had no hint. The younger sister was only 16 years old. Her personal, teenage love life was more important than the family’s secret crisis. The youngest brother who was conceived during the perimenopausal confusion was more of a grand child than a son. Asha suggested Rehema to share the room with her.
Slowly things were coming back to Normal. The neighbours, Asha’s parents and everybody knew that Asha was waiting for the visa formalities and then to go to Europe and join the husband.
She completed her Nursing course. Joined National Referral Hospital for internship. During the internship course, Asha gathered all the information of possibilities of getting a scholarship abroad for further studies. She managed to get one in Turkey for post graduate training in intensive care unit.
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