While You Were Sleeping

(**Sha’Tara – the burning woman, I owed you one. Unfortunately, it’s not just a fiction – for someone out there, it could very well be the reality.)

Dear Mummy,

You might be surprised to find this letter waiting by your bedside, but I couldn’t think of any other place where it might catch your attention. I am also sorry that you would waste the next few minutes reading this while you could have finished so many chores around the house before leaving for work. Trust me, if I had any other means to tell you what I have to, I would have. But there are none.

From my childhood I have seen you always in the same state – rushed, agitated and sweaty. No matter how early you woke up or late you slept, the mountain of work you had to accomplish never diminished. You accepted whatever life gave you with a sweet resignation that most people aspire to develop.

There were many occasions when you went hungry to quieten the growls in our stomach. You covered your body with the same tattered piece of cloth for years but every festival there were new clothes waiting for us. I have seen you look longingly at the happy lives of other families but still you never complained when he came home drunk every night and hit you. I only wish you had.

I have been holding on to my silence for past seven years now but this time I fear the silence will not be able to hide the sin growing in my stomach. Before you get enraged and curse me for bringing shame to the family, think about this. I am only fourteen years old. I never leave the house since you stopped school five years ago. Who could it be?

The first time it happened was when you were big with Raghu and were sleeping on the bed. Your husband and I had to share the space on the floor. They say that a man should not be trusted even with his own daughter even. If only you had believed in this superstition as well instead of disregarding it as nonsense.

He insisted that he loved me a lot and this was just the same as cuddling me on his lap. You loved me but never hurt me. Why did he? I didn’t understand that this was another kind of love, one that reared its head only in the dark of the night. He would stuff his shirt in my mouth as he climbed on top of me and pumped away all his frustration of the day. Every night I passed away unconscious till the light of day was on me. I didn’t know what was happening but there was no escaping the shame and repulsion. It was all over me.

You never taught me what it was like to be a woman – I learnt it all by myself. Lying in the arms of the man sworn to protect me, I felt the most vulnerable. He told me that it was a sacrifice I had to make if I wanted you to stay happy. I had never seen you back down from sacrificing anything for our happiness; how could I?

He had put a time limit on my “usage”. It was to stop once the baby was born. What a lie! There were nights when even after being with you, he crept out of the bed. Like a leech, he sustained on our love, hope and submission. You would get upset when I would remain lost in thoughts; I thought it’d upset you more upset if I shared my thoughts with you.

With time I grew to hate my body. The young firm flesh seemed to attract him more than yours. That didn’t stop him from giving you two more children before you managed to put a stop to it. I was lucky to have escaped that fate for this long. However, you can only tempt luck so many times.

I have kept all my pain, anger and suffering hidden inside me for so long that it took shape in my womb. While he continued snoring the night away, I had much to worry about. Maybe it was the residue of the evil he had lodged inside me, but life suddenly made sense. My release from this prison was long over-due. It was time to do something about it. Before the world punished me with their tongue, I had to ensure that justice was served.

He suffocated me for so many years, it was only fair that I do the same to him. He was too drunk last night to walk straight but even that didn’t affect his libido when he saw me. As he slumped off me, I resolved I would never cry myself to sleep again. I held the pillow over his head till he learnt the lesson of silence he had taught me so many years ago. He would never touch me again.

Mummy, every night I died a little while you were sleeping. I had thought that my silence was protecting you from a fate worse than death. It was only with time that I saw you were too busy protecting yourself to think of me. It takes a mouse’s squeak to wake you up but my nightly ordeals were never stopped. You wake up before everyone at home, but never spotted my clothes in disarray. Nothing could escape your eagle eye except something that happened every night under your nose. If I hadn’t been my own saviour, no one else was going to play the role.

I have realized that in this world, no one is truly yours. Not even this body can I claim to be mine. It is home to another now. A lot happened while you were sleeping; now it’s time for me to wake up. By the time you finish this letter I would have disappeared miles away from here. You can spend the next few hours cleaning up the house before breaking your bangles and howling your sorrow. No one missed him while he was alive; a few more hours won’t make much of a difference.

Yours in shame,



19 thoughts on “While You Were Sleeping

  1. Wow, what a story. I could feel every word of it, but especially her youthful confusion, trying to do the right thing when there is no right thing except at the end when she did what she had to do. Amazing the strength of a woman. Very well expressed, and written. May I reblog this?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is overwhelming. I can’t stop the tears, because I know that your fictional girl represnts so many. They may not have murdered their fathers, but they suffer, and nobody sees.
    You have found a beautiful way to tell a terrible, tragic tale.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thank you. i have been trying to see life from the perspective of women all over the world…age no bar…and i know it might sound so sexist but i just understand 90% of the crimes that happen…why are we so willing to give in? Why cant we fight for ourselves? there always has to be someone else at stake before women pick up the weapon and become the Goddess…why?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Maybe because we have traditionally had to do whatever’s needed to protect our young – talk the enemy down, placate him, sleep with him. But that doesn’t explain the blindness of the mother in this story, or the way the mother blames the husband instead of the child in other stories.
        Our brains are wired for peace, and war comes hard to us? Every time I think we’re getting stronger something comes along and proves me wrong, but we’re moving forward, I think.
        We had a warlike woman prime minister in this country, but she did terrible damage because she thought like a man without scruples. The UK has not yet recovered from the greedy, selfish ideas it put in the head of our people.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Why? Because you are living in a system called “the Patriarchy” and it wants ALL the power. To really understand what “the Patriarchy” is, you have to open yourself up to universal energy and understanding. No one can explain it to you, basically you have to become a spy and penetrate those hidden processes of power (illegitimate power, not natural) and expose them for yourself. You must become self-empowered, independent, daring, tough, and believe that what you know is your truth, and it can never be wrong until you, and only you, reach a new level of understanding and can say, “I was wrong there, now I know better.” This is not easy. I’m 70 years “old” now and I’m beginning to get a grasp of what the universe is, how it operates. The power entities that rule this universe we call the Time Lords. They are a male energy and they are oppressors of all things female, or what they consider “weak” from their point of view. If you can’t physically, militarily, beat them then you must become their slave – that’s it. They will not allow you to live your own life in peace and tranquility, you must live in fear the them. Planetary ruling forces – government, military, corporate and banking entities, all get their “license” to operate, i.e., rob, oppress, murder, from the Time Lords. OK, that opens a little window you may want to look into, then you’re on your own. Most people I’ve talked to this way… disappear from my life very quickly. It frightens them, or they think it’s nuts. You have that choice also. Maybe what works for me doesn’t work for anyone else – after all we are all on a personal path of discovery, and paths are infinite in number and “distance” if you want to think that way.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on ~Burning Woman~ and commented:
    This poignant story from a young eastern writer written in the form of a letter just struck me. A child, a young girl is abused by her violent, drunken father with her mother maybe even aware of the goings on but is left on her own to deal with her fear, pain and helplessness in her long recurring nightmare until she resolves it the only way she could. This story may be fiction, or it may be her personal experience, but we know, how well we know, it is the experience of millions of children, girls, women on this world. A story of lightning force expressed in a child’s meek and self-effacing voice; a child who, despite her horrible mistreatment and abandonment, still sees the good in those who could have helped her but didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. your words have great power… I can feel each of it . it’s the story of many girls in our country …. they need to break the ice and to raise their voice … hope it will help some of them to loud …. great one…After all, you have the power to hold the attention of readers. you know how to play with words…. really great one .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Emma. I am filled with outrage and humiliation because that somehow seems to go with the territory right? As one cursed with a female body in a land where Goddesses are worshipped, everyone’s a Mama’s boy, yet women are looked down upon at, I feel that things have got to change. My stories tell the pain of those who are unable to speak up on their own.

      Liked by 2 people

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