Author’s Note: Catch Up on Part 1 if you haven’t read it yet
Akash had not taken Anahita’s rise to fame at work too well. At first in the early years he hid his jealousy and frustration so well that Anahita remained oblivious of his growing resentment. But slowly he began to take it out on her. It was so much easier than being a mature, husband and support his wife to reach greater heights. By day, they were the perfect picture of the best couple the world had seen. By night, he turned into a predator and she, the hunted animal.
Rahul was already born by then, and Anahita decided she would not let the boy suffer the consequences of a broken marriage. Besides, she had somehow managed to turn it around in her head and blame herself for the violence and abuse that she suffered. She was convinced it was her fault somehow and her pain to bear. And so she silently suffered through it all for years. Not a soul in the world knew or suspected the double life she led between home and work.
Or so she thought.
Anahita felt her carefully constructed world of make-believe slowly crash around her as Rahul gently took her make-up off. All her pent-up emotions threatened to rise to the surface. She wasn’t sure if it was due to her worst fear coming true – her son finally knew. Or was it because of the tenderness he showed in wiping away that make-up, fully realising how much in pain she was and being so careful not to hurt her. No one had lavished that kind of care in a long time, and it hurt more than anything else. But still she wouldn’t give up. She had to try, one last time, to keep her son away from the monstrosity that she re-lived night after night.
“Rahul, beta I tripped and hit my head on the wall. Nothing else happened. You are reading too much into this one wound. Everything’s fine. Me and your dad, we’re fine too. You just concentrate on your life and studies and being the best you can in anything you do. It’s so sweet of you to worry about me, but I’m okay! And look what you’ve done now, I have to go apply make-up all over again.”
Rahul gripped her hands tighter, watching her visibly trying not to wince and said firmly, “Ma, stop it. Please, for both our sakes, stop it! I wish I had the courage to say something sooner. I wish I had grown up sooner so I could have just whisked you away from his house of terror. I know why you never wear skirts or half sleeves Ma. And I know if I forced you to take off your coat right now, the bruises on your arms will confirm my statement. I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you all these years Ma. But I am now. And I want you to please stop pretending we’re this cosy, happy family. Because we’re not! Are you still going to tell me we are? Please don’t insult my intelligence any more Ma.”
Anahita’s last line of defense cracked at these words, and as she felt a physical and mental burden lift, she collapsed into her son’s arms. He gently seated her on the bed, grateful that his father had long left for work and he was able to freely talk to his mother.
“Ma, I know you have been suffering all these years for my sake, just so that I don’t get affected by a divorce or a broken family. But Ma, we’re already broken! And all I want to do is take you away from this house and protect you for the rest of my life. I will not let him lay a finger on you again Ma. Just say the word.”
The offer was so tempting! Just once, she wanted to be the one who was cared for, rather than the one who cared. But she checked herself almost immediately. There was no two ways about it now – her son knew of the darkness that she was enveloped in, and the horror she lived through night after night. And it was time for her to step up to the plate. And set an example for her son.
She firmly wiped away her tears and gently looked at Rahul, “You’ve given me a lot to think about beta. Now give me time to process it all, and come to a decision.Thank you for speaking your heart out Rahul. I don’t know about the future, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I do know one thing – this has to be my battle, not yours.”
She got back to applying her make-up all over again and briskly went back to her business woman mode. As she left for work, she told Rahul, “Don’t be surprised to hear I have a conference abroad for a week or two. I might just take a time out to think this through. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be in touch.”
She managed worldwide operations for a multinational company. She had more than enough brain power to put together an operational plan for her own liberation. The more she thought about it, the more she realised how misplaced her intentions had been. She realised how much children see and absorb. Much more than she ever gave him credit for.
With an overwhelming flood of thoughts, newfound energy and a bright ray of hope and confidence, Anahita walked into a brave, new world. A world in which she would set an example for her son, and demand the respect that Akash owed her.
Never again would he lay a finger on her.
Author’s Note: Catch the concluding part of Anahita’s story and journey to self-discovery here
Illustrated By: Dr Anisha Kumar (Visit http://ignitingmypassion.wordpress.com)