Shayra grimaced looking at herself in the mirror. There was a trail of blood on her cheek, the cut narrowly missing her eye. She pulled out the antiseptic from the medicine cabinet and hurriedly cleaned the wound. Amma would be up any moment and she didn’t want to be late with breakfast. Amma got into a rant if breakfast was served late and Shayra was in no mood for a dressing down today morning. Zakir was still asleep, dead to the world. He wouldn’t even remember what had transpired last night. If at all, he would apologise to her and say he loved her. Which she knew he did. Yet the alcohol turned him into a beast, one that was so out of control.

After breakfast, she rushed out to the municipal tap to fill drinking water which was available only for half an hour each morning. There was a queue, but it was not so bad. Farida, her neighbour was waiting and had saved her a spot. Squeezing in and thanking her, Shayra awaited her turn. Suddenly, Farida asked, “How long, Shayra?”

Perplexed, Shayra asked “What?”

Farida replied, “Come on Shayra! How long are you going to put up with his nonsense? Zakir keeps beating you every day. When are you going to take a stand?”

Shayra said, “Farida, he is my husband and loves me. All couples fight. You and Mohsin bhaisaab too fight. What’s wrong in that?”

Farida retorted, “Shayra, Mohsin and I fight but he has never raised his hand on me. He knows that the day he does it, is the day I will walk away! What are you waiting for?”

“It’s not that easy Farida. Agreed that Zakir’s drinking is a problem, otherwise he would never raise his hand on me. And if I were to leave him, where would I go? I have no one since Amma and Abba both passed away last year within a short space of time! And how would I fend for myself?” Shayra replied.

“Shayra, you were teaching in a girl’s school before you got married. And you are still young. Thank god, you don’t have children yet. You can restart your life again. Sometimes there is no happy choice, Shayra, only one less grievous than the others” Farida said.

Her words got Shayra thinking. She thought about the times when Zakir beat her black and blue and his mother refused to step in as she too dreaded Zakir’s temper then. Lately, it was increasing just as Zakir’s drinking was going out of hand. And he simply refused to consult a doctor. Amma was pressurizing her for a child, but Shayra was not sure if she wanted one now. It was just not the right environment for a child. The more she thought, the more she was convinced.

Walking out with her life belongings in one suitcase, Shayra knew that she had made the right decision. And she thanked Farida!


Amma – Mother

Bhaisaab – Brother (a manner of addressing)

Abba – Father


The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00 entry.
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