It was in the sixth year of my life that I came to know that the people with whom I was living were not my parents . The house I loved was not my home .It so happened that my eldest sister and her husband had arrived. They often came along with their daughter who was only one year younger to me . Their arrival every time was a bit of an emergency. While the mother got busy in the kitchen preparing various dishes and father’s trip to the market increased many fold . But I didn’t mind being neglected. I cashed in the opportunity of showcasing my toys to my niece, Swati . She was allowed to play but not take away any of these . I was the little princess of the house, loved and pampered.
My world was limited to Nurpur, a tiny village at the outskirts of Himachal .Serene hills, lush green fields , Gulmohurs and cassias were my friends. Ma kept singing songs while working. I imbibed her art . Our house resonated with folk songs ——Whether It was —- Nurpure diye khatratiaye tere mathe the Bindra Lana goriye ( Oh ,the beautiful woman of Nurpur I will decorate your forehead with beautiful bindi ) or Tu Mala Tu Lok bhnan kikriyan , badam bhane Tu ( You ,my beloved, break almonds while ordinary people break tiny branches from Kikar tree )” what a melodious voice she has .” was the usual complement I got . My mother was proud of me .
We all sat down for dinner that day when didi asked Swati to recite nursery rhymes. And she knew how to write also . It was my turn . I started with my favourite songs . “ Stop It ,” shouted Jijaji furiously, “ are these the kind of songs you teach a six year old ? “ She was mad at my parents. “You have spoiled my daughter . Does she know anything worthwhile?” I had no idea what wrong I had done and how was I ,his daughter . Slowly the reality dawned on me .My parents had left me with my grandparents because it was difficult for them to look after both the girls.
It was decided there and then that I would accompany them to the city . Grandma was crying all the time . I tried to hide behind her . Nothing could stop my parents. I tried to throw a temper tantrums , cried loudly . I was slapped so tight that not only my cheeks but my soul was left stinging for the rest of my life . In a moment my world came crashed before me .I left behind my happiness, my muse and my loving grand parents.
Glorious days of my life were gone .My parents hated me . I was a lazy , good for nothing child for them . I tried to please them, tried to work hard . But pain and fear stupefied me . I lost my confidence . My mother was also brain washed in to thinking that I could never do anything nice in life.” She is below average, your parents have spoiled her .” was the constant retort that she got. Slowly I also accepted myself as below average.I never got or expected praise from anyone.
Swati loved me . She sometimes tried to stop Ma and Pa from scolding me. She tried to encourage me to study . That would hurt my ego. After all she was younger to me . “ Why should I follow her instructions?” Many a times , she had told lies for me . Tried to persuade me to study . I never listened to her. She would even cry for me but I didn’t bother. As my father was turning more of a tyrant , I was becoming more of a rebel .
Years passed and my frustration grew . Many a times, I contemplated suicide. Only thing I still loved was singing .Sometimes when mummy and papa were away I sang my old songs .
A music competition was to be held in the school ,and I had a mind to participate . I knew Papa would not agree . “ Pay attention to your studies ,” he would say ,” Have you ever got more than 50% marks in any subject? Below average! “ he would retort . But I could not stop myself from talking about it to Swat I loved singing and this inter school competition was a rare opportunity . I decided to give my name for the competition. I started the riyaz whenever I get an opportunity. Swati was my listener . I was selected.
Papa was furious when he came to know about it . “Those in laws of mine ,” he cursed them and abused them . But the decision was made . My song ‘Nurpure diye khatratiye kept the audience enthralled along with myself. I felt alive again.
This is an entry for the event #BreakFree, ArtoonsInn’s signature Short Story Writing event, #ArTales-16.
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Check out Sarita’s space here: https://artoonsinn.com/author/saritha-khullar/