The Art Studio - Part 4
It is raining outside. The lights are out, so you are sitting by the window, looking at the occasional lightning. From the corner of your eyes, you sense that someone is glaring at you. You shake off the feeling, because you know you are home alone. So you go back to watching the rain. Five minutes later, half your face has been torn off, and there's blood trickling down from whatever is left of your face, and down your neck and gradually seeping into the couch.
The more I walked toward the black and beige saree, the more things started to appear in front of me. In the farthest corner of the basement, slept a lady. I shivered at the sight. Was it really her? Was it Maa? Her hair was unkempt, the tattered saree showed parts of her skin, there were bruises all over her body, some of them pretty fresh.
I touched her shoulder, and she immediately jerked out of her sleep. "No, please don't hit me, Amar, it hurts a lot.", she whimpered. I guess she couldn't see me from where I stood. "Are you...Are you Sudha? Are you my mother?" She was baffled, as if she was hearing her name for the very first time. She crawled out from where she was sleeping, to a spot where there was enough light for her to see my face. She tried to stand up, but a recent wound stopped her; I sat down next to her. Her hands caressed my face, like she was searching for something. "They said you were dead. They said my little baby was dead!", tears flowing down her cheeks. I was puzzled beyond levels. Why was my father and his family busy killing people, even though it was fictional? "But Maa, why are you in the basement? Why aren't you living with Father and I?" The mention of my father brought her back to her senses. She looked at me like she was seeing me for the last time. "Child, please go before your father finds us. I do not know how you found me, but your father is a monster. Please go away before he kills both of us. The world already thinks we are dead, it would be easier for him to complete the task in reality."
After several trials of assurance, she finally believed that she was safe. That she was with me. And then, she started with her story.
"When Amar and I got married, it was the perfect marriage. He would talk to me as if we grew up together. We would go on little dates. There was a never a day when he'd fail to make me blush. When I got pregnant with you, he took care of me as if I were a queen and nothing less than that. Right before I went to the hospital, he made me stand and took a photo of us. He said, "Sudha, let's keep a souvenir of the memory of one of the greatest days of our lives." It was a funny photo - my water had broken and I was going mad from the contractions, I obviously had a clearly agitated face, but your father had the biggest smile.", she giggled, but stopped soon.
What would have ended up such a beautiful marriage? "After you were born and I was holding you in my arms, Amar came and sat next to me to have a look to you, but the moment he laid his eyes on you, all hell broke loose. "You fucking slut! After everything I did for you, you repay me with this? A girl? Are you gonna make her a slut like yourself? This isn't my daughter, is she? Tell me, who else fucked you?", he roared. I was taken aback, but soon, I gave in to the sedatives. The next thing I knew, I was tied up here. Amar and my in laws stood towering over me, nasty grins pasted on their faces. They told me you had died right after your birth. That was everything to break my sanity and my hopes."
"Everyday, since the last 18 years, he comes in here and beats me with whatever he can lay his hands on. On the more brutal days, when he comes in drunk, he rapes me like I am nothing but an object for his carnal desires. He points at my body and says, "You see your skin? These bruises, cuts and scars? These are priceless works of art that you deserve for being a slut. Your body is my canvas, and I will not stop until I create art on every inch of it."" Her fingers caressed her scars as if she was in a deep trance. When she came out of it, she said, "But... But where is Amar? How did you end up here? He locks me up everyday."
I took a deep breath. "I think he's taking his last breaths."