By Nitusmita Saikia
Contributing Author for Spark Igniting Minds
The whole auditorium thundered with clapping. There was murmur from all sides after the invited guest had finished her speech. The students occupying the audience began to discuss the topic while the seminar had not yet even reached half the time of its stipulated duration.
“…really it was very good lecture on gender discrimination. I am impressed by her examples and points.” “Hey, such a bold lecture, loved that ma’am”….. “Who is she? Anybody knows? I heard she is a writer too?” “She is Dr. Minakshi.” “I have even noted down her arguments so that I can use them in my college debating contest” “Great….you bookworm..!” “hahaha”
After her speech, for a moment, Dr. Minakshi felt as if she was ambushed by a heavy crowd of flies but within a few minutes, the hall became calm again. While the other guest lecturers turn by turn were starting to deliver their speeches, Dr. Minakshi flew away to waft in her own world and didn’t listen to any of them but the chats…! Only the chats continued to buzz around her ears.
“How could they talk like this?” Dr. Minakshi thought.
She asked herself, “Am I scared? No no, I can’t. I can’t give up…How Dr. Rajni…..Padam…Gauri….how can they…? ”
Drops of sweat glistened all over her face and her grip on the chair’s handle was getting tighter with the loud applauses of the audience, as if she had fallen down in a whirlpool of noises and so was holding on to the handle to stop her from drifting away.
Breathing restlessly, Dr. Minakshi was panting in her thoughts. (Negative feelings were infiltrating her mind).
“Silently the water basin was filling up. Nobody was there but Dr. Minakshi, all alone in the washroom. She found something unusual in the water while washing her face. Her eyes were closed so at first she couldn’t see. But when she opened her eyes, Dr. Minakshi was shocked. “Oh my god, from where all these are coming out? Oh no, no, she shook her hands, tried to stop the water tap and continued to shout…stop, stop, somebody please stop this”. Dr. Minakshi was trembling in horror and her shaking hands tried to wipe out the blood from the mirror but the blood was oozing furiously. In fear, Dr. Minakshi yelled, but the voice was not coming out. Her throat was drying, she felt as if something is choking her throat…..!
The more she tried to wash them off, the more her hands were getting bloody. Dr. Minakshi saw that the mirror was changing. First she thought that it was her eyes but not, something was approaching her. She repeatedly wiped her eyes to see clearly what was actually there in the mirror. And then it appeared clearly; a face on the mirror. A small girl in a frock, her two soft fluffy cheeks, and pair of pink lips that were open, through which saliva was trickling down slowly. Eyes were open wide, emotionless….two swallow eyes…!
Dr. Minakhi didn’t understood what was happening with her. When she carefully went closer to the mirror and tried to see the face, it faded away behind the curtain of blood. Like a mad woman, she touched the mirror to find the face but it was too late. Holding her head, crying, yelling, panting, she sat down there on the floor. In that grave silent, suddenly she heard something as if someone was calling her.
Scaring, trembling, terrorized, Dr. Minakshi stood up again and then …..”Nina….Nina, my child, what happened to you my baby.” It was not her but its Nina’s face, her daughter; her life. “She is screaming….oh god, why she is screaming? Nina, are you okay? My baby, mama is here. Oh God”, crying loudly, “What is happening to her?” “Nina…Nina…” “Mama…mama it is paining, mama”
Dr. Minakshi breathed heavily. She tried to touch her daughter’s face but she couldn’t. Dr. Minakshi saw that something was scratching her daughter’s face; her clothes were getting torn apart …”mama …..mama” Nina extended her hand to her mother but Dr. Minakshi could not hold her hands and the face drowned under the pool of blood. No……No, Nina …..Nina come back….my child, Nina….” Dr. Minakshi screamed in pain, yelled as much as she could. But her cry, her yell was not reaching anyone’s ear because the lecture hall was drowned in the sound of applause. The members of the audience were greeting each lecturer with great pleasure and applause.
Dr. Minakshi only heard the chat amidst the noise. “You know, days are becoming more dangerous now. Nobody is safe at all. Nobody …whether girl or boy, man or woman..!” “Yeah Padam, you are right. No gender discrimination when it is about crime. Criminals don’t discriminate against anyone. See, that incident how the man…has been…” “ yeah, that was very sad.
But children are the most vulnerable of all victims. And really feel bad, horrific when a child is abused, murdered, raped….and all.” “Yeah Gauri, Children are most wanted target these days.” “And when it is a girl child physically challenged with a single mother, things go crazier!” “What did you mean? Gauri…!” “Nothing special…but see we mothers always tense about their kids.
And when you have girl child then you can’t concentrate on your work.” Yes, you can’t believe anyone. But why did you particularly mention about physically challenged girl child?” “You don’t know Padam sir; our Minakshi ma’am has one physically challenged girl child.
She stays with the governess all day while ma’am is in college. I don’t know how she is managing all this. Nobody knows what accident could take place in her absence. And when she is gone….” “What ..! She is gone?” “I mean after her death, who will take care of the child…?”
All day Dr. Minakshi was wandering in her thoughts and reached home stressed. “Hello shanti bai, how is she?” “Madam, she is fine, just gone to sleep,” “You are not sounding well, Shanti bai? Was everything okay?”
In very timid voice, shanti bai replied, “today ….”
“What is today…?” Tightly pressing the shoulder of Shanti Bai, Dr. Minakshi in a concerned tone asked anxiously, “what today? Shanti bai….don’t hide, speak….please.” Shouting…..”
“Madam today," lowering her head, “Nina tried to fetch/serve food herself from a hot pan that I kept on burner for cooking the vegetables.”
“But before she could do any more harm to herself, I reached there on time. A little burn on her thumb, I have applied cream immediately.”
Dr. Minakshi ran to her baby who was sleeping peacefully then. She starred at her girl with love and pain, ran her hand over her forehead and kissed. While Dr. Minakshi was taking care of her daughter, she heard a soft voice coming from outside. “Toys in five rupees…..handmade toys in five rupees….” Dr. Minakshi asked her maid to stop the toy seller.
“What is your name, little girl?”
“Everyone calls me Sona, madam.”
“Okay. Where do you stay? Do you sell toys daily?”
“Yes madam, otherwise my uncle and aunt will not allow me to stay with them, because I lost my parents in an accident.”
Dr. Minakshi ran her hand over the head of the small toy-selling girl. “Will you take me to your uncle’s place?”
“Yes madam, but why do you want to come to my place?”
“Just want to meet your uncle and aunt. Now give me some toys for your sister”
“Minakshi, are you sure?
“Yeah Prakash, I am, very much.”
“Minakshi, you know, what you are doing ? You already have lot of duties towards Nina and now Sona? How will you manage all these? God…..!”
“Problems will be there always in life. Our duty is to keep looking for possible solutions.”
“Ok then, sign the application. It will take a few days to complete the procedure”
“Do it as fast as yo u can.”
Holding Nina on her lap, Dr. Minakshi came back for Sona, who was waiting with her basketful toys, and bought the whole basket.
“Are they enough? Sona…!” “for us ? Yes madam” Kissing the legs of little Nina, Sona replied with a big smile and walked down the street with Dr. Minakshi.
About the Author
Nitusmita Saika is by profession an instructor in National Cadet Corps, She writes both in English and Assamese. She has been writing poetry for e-magazines like FM online magazine for couple of years.