I was invisible to the world. I only drifted through my existence.
To my parents, I was a burden. Their wish to lift the enormous weight of taking care of a daughter was lifted the day their proposal to get me married got accepted by a suitor. My opinions on this remained unobserved.
I have successfully predicted all my parents’ decisions for the last sixteen years regarding me, decisions which involved unchallenging ways to keep me alive and did not encumber their busy lives in any way. But never did I see this coming, this extreme measure to get rid of me, a constant oppression.
I knew the suitor. He was ten years older than me or more. He was married once, until his wife died in a tragic train accident, though I highly doubted this. This sounded like a story rather than what actually happened.
I knew this man before my parents even brought me to him. I know what is hidden beneath those grey eyes; the eyes that get bloodshot red when in the heat of the moment. I recognized his hands, they forcibly travelled all over my body, the strength of his hands towering over me.
I would fight, but I couldn’t. My senses became paralyzed, my brain still unable to process what was happening to me. Why weren’t my hands moving? Why wasn’t my body unable to push him away? It was as if though for a moment all the physical strength dissolved out of my body, leaving my feeble mental state alone to fight. In my mind, I was shouting the loudest of screams, the screams that never made their way out of my mouth. My neck could feel the pressure of his grip. It was never ending. When would it end? I closed my eyes shut as if that would take me away from what was happening. I lost grasp of what was rational. I held on to the last desperate hope.
After what felt like hours, he finally released me. I was still shaking. His lips were moving. He was saying something. The only words I heard were ‘do not tell your parents I slipped something into your drink’. My vision became blurred. I blacked out.
When I woke up, next to me I saw a crease on the bed sheet. I recalled what happened. The first attempt failed, it was only images in fast forward motion, pausing at certain intervals. I tried again. The cycle went on continually. The next few days consisted of nightmares. Each day events of that night became more vivid. But no matter how many times I recall, and by this time I’ve had two weeks of bad dreams, it still feels like I am there that night for the first time; it feels new to me each and every time. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt surfaced. I felt too many emotions all at once racing in my mind, unable to interpret them. There was always a weight on me, wherever I went.
But a person can only deal with trauma alone up to a certain extent.
I finally mustered the courage to tell my parents. They were indifferent. ‘Is this the story you’re making up for attention?’ she said. ‘I told you, to behave like a lady. This is what you getting for going out alone all the time at odd hours with boys. No one will believe you. I myself don’t,’ my father deadpanned. All my life I had never asked anything of them. I lived with the acceptance that I may have their blood but I will never belong to them truly. Their words hit me like an arrow on bare skin.
For the first time in my life, I felt the need to not only to speak but to shout for someone, anyone, to hear me. It was a desperate plea. I told my friends, they told their parents.
Slowly word got around. But those words were against me, they shot back at me. I got labeled as a girl with a ‘loose’ character. Immediately, upon the arrival of such rumors, my parents took action. They would have rather died than have their gold plated name stained. So they brought in the man and offered him to get married to me. This marriage would be a reasonable answer for the heinous act which I willingly involved myself in. People bought it. The man was a village tax officer. People knew he came around to our house often because he had good relations with my father.
Now, not only did I have to go through regular nightmares.
I was now married to my nightmare.