When I think of my childhood, I think of my father’s coarse hands, his anger that made even the house tremble with fear, a long black stick burning against my skin, carving marks of a lifetime, and the day I pushed him off the roof.
Do I regret it? No, because everyone was at peace, my mother who was a constant victim of his abuse, my sister who was too young to understand the madness, but mostly it was me for I was liberated at last.
This is not a diary of a madman, but an archive of an innocent soul who was fortunate enough to not end up being a criminal and whose confidence and ability to love were plundered on multiple occasions. Today I am a leading psychologist of the country, and sympathizing with the trauma of my patients comes naturally to me. I take solace in healing their issues as it helps me heal mine.
I’m aware that at times you hate someone to an extent that you are swarmed by pessimistic thoughts and that’s where psychology comes into play. I fell in love with this subject as it rescued me from my abyss. But did it really? Where on one hand my dark past helps in understanding my patients better, on the other it’s like a whirlwind that’ll damage every single bone in your body, until you can’t take no more.
I vividly remember every other night when my father would vent out the frustration of his failed gambling gimmicks on my mother and me. Alcohol was the instant catalyst that would turn him to a monster, which is largely why I loathe that substance. The moment he would take his belt off to whip my mother was the sign of me being next. In those moments when Amma yelled in agony, my eyes would swell with tears, my heart would vociferate in pain, and my mind would roar with rage. I would run to stop him, protect my Amma, but I was always too weak to tame the beast. I would retreat to my penumbra, my hiding spot under my bed, along with my sister Ruhi who was just 4, the only place where we felt safe and cosseted, breathing heftily, palpitating with fear, hoping that the walls would swallow us up and make us disappear. But even that was soon forayed by our father, who once like a wild animal that gets hold of its prey, pulled me out in the dark with his monstrous claws, and then with that long black stick began the bashing. Every time that stick was whacked against my skin, my soul was numbed to death.
After a few minutes of making us burn in hell, he would stop, and wade to his bed like an angry toddler tired of ripping the rugged dolls. Our house that was just a second ago jittering in the hue and cry, would instantly descend to tranquility. Amma would limp towards me, “Veer..”, getting choked would ask “Are you okay?” We both knew the answer, but would look at each other with tears fluttering from our eyes, lamenting our fate and subconsciously asking ‘When will this end?’. I would eventually fall asleep in my mother’s arms as she would caress my forehead, and her love would temporarily repair my soul. Even today, I have shuddering nightmares of my father’s harrowing presence. I wake up, and then stare at the darkness until dawn.
School was no better either. The constant abuse that I received from my father turned me into a pariah. A mere shadow, devoid of emotions, without any friends, coiled in my own shell. Often being referred to as ‘Dumb’ and an ‘Idiot’ by my classmates, I was just a caricature of a weakling, who was always rampooned by all. In those times I realized how society basks in your pain, always in line to pull you down and in the end we spend hours, no, days or even months filling a hole that someone else has dug for us.
But the only time I felt the most powerful was when I took charge of the saddle. I never realized the more I was boxing my emotions, the more mounted they got or maybe our miseries reared by the leviathan were too paramount to be kept in a box. I would dream with open eyes, think of ways of purging my father, suffocating him to death with a pillow, watch him struggle for his life like a fish gasping relentlessly near the shore, or use a knife and strike it through his heart. But all those involved the risks of me getting caught and not getting away with the murder, until one day I got the perfect opportunity.
My father was sitting on the terrace guzzling endless glasses of whiskey. Ruhi was next to him on the floor playing. I sat near the staircase, pretending to prepare for my next day’s exam but was actually just playing the waiting game. It was a gusty day, and the smell of the rain had just intoxicated the surroundings. I looked up, right when I thought of the clouds raging storms elsewhere, a rainbow radiated the sky. Ruhi got up in excitement, all consumed and dancing in joy, like a little angel fascinated by colors.
She raised her hands, yearning to hold the rainbow and shook our father “Papa, look, look, there’s a rainbow”. His drink spilled on the table, with infuriating eyes he stood up with a jilt and kicked Ruhi so hard that her head banged against the wall, and blood started oozing out of her forehead. I sat there dumbstruck, unable to process that my sister was draped in red, and I decided it stops today. He stood near the railing with drink in his hands, soaking in his ruthlessness, oblivious to our cries, and the very next moment a ‘thud’ silenced the vicinity. Amma rushed outside, and looked at the body, stunned, as I had finally buried the pandora of fear and oppression.
Now before you jump to any conclusions, I wasn’t put behind the bars, as I was just 15 and no one really cared about an alcoholic whose death looked more like a suicide, and that is how I got away with murder. Amma looked up as I held Ruhi in my arms. She wanted to smile, or so I thought. Her eyes burning with a tiny ray of brightness, 'the minefield was disrupted at last'.