Kaimon aachish tui? (How are you?)
Mone podche kothaye dekha aamader ?(Do you remember where we had met).
I guess not. I met you in the parlour, Remember. It was early summer and my first year from Post graduation. I evidenced the meet with you then in one of those evenings of Kolkata back in 2011. As I sat down in the waiting area for my turn you came rushing into the parlour in a beautiful pink coloured floral chiffon saree. You trembling voice caught my attention.
You delivered in a quivering voice, “Aamar taada royeche (I am in a hurry), can you kindly get my eye-brows done”.
I raised my head from the magazine and saw towards the lady who was the owner of the parlour and said, “Kindly, free her up”.
As you sat in the chair in front of the big mirror of the parlour your dark hairs, carelessly tied as a bun,took my gaze to you. I viewed your image on the mirror. You were a girl merely in your 20’s. The owner of the parlour summoned you, “Arre, you are Mr Bhattacharjee’s daughter-in-law right, who had been married a couple of weeks back? Ki naam jano tomar (what was your name)”.
Adjusting yourself on the seat you looked towards the Owner who was sitting at the right of your’s, you smiled and said, “Parul”. The ower nodded back, “Haan (yes), Parul”.
Without delay, the employee started working on your eyebrows. But my eyes had unknowingly started to screen you. I saw that the bright vermilion on your forehead spoke aloud about your marriage. Your sleek figure and Chapa Rong (dark-skin) was the perfect description of Rabindranath Tagore’s- KrishnoKoli.
I murmured the verses, “I summon her Krishnokoli, the girl whom the folks summon dark”.
As my eyes started screening you more closely on the mirror placed in front of you, your eyes caught my notice. I felt a tinge of pain pass through the reflection of them to my heart. They weren’t happy, Nah they looked terrified. The uneasiness within my soul increased as my eyes evidenced the other side of yours.
My eyes could now see the scars on your body. Some of them on your hands, a few on your bare shoulders and one on your right cheek. These bruises on your body all of a sudden started crying aloud to me about the unseen scars of your soul. They spoke aloud the pain you go through, probably every day.
Wondering in my own thoughts all of a sudden I sensed that your eyes were staring at me through the mirror. I could make out the anguish in them as if they were screaming aloud how much your soul was afraid of the torture it had to go through. There was anguish in them along with the plea of helplessness. We stared at each other for a couple of moments and tears ran out of yours. As I stared at you I could sense that without my will mine had moistened too and my breaths became heavier.
I felt connected to your pain.
All of a sudden you rose up from your seat to leave and started wiping your eyes saying, “O kicchu noi (oh these are nothing), since I am doing threading after a couple of days so my eyes have become watery”. I realized from your verses that your turn was over. You settled your payments with the owner. But before leaving you came towards me and said, “Parul, aamar naam Parul ,Didi!” (Parul, my name is Parul elder sister), Hope you shall remember.”
I felt a strange coldness within my soul as I could make out from your smile that you had screened my thoughts. I knew that you too had realized that I knew about the torment your soul was going through. I sensed the anguish you had within yourself for the helplessness.
I can’t forget that incident. The pain behind your eyes and the smile. I couldn’t forget them even today. You had left into your unknown world but your eyes followed me. As I analyzed the incident of this meeting with you, again and again, I felt guilt within me. The guilt of not being able to help you or at least hug you and say, “Parul you are a fighter, I am by your side”. I didn’t have the confidence and courage then within me. But that gave me a sense of gratitude for my own life like a free bird.
Even after 10 years of that small interaction between you and me I still see you in every girl who comes to me for counselling, dealing with sexual assaults after marriage, speaking about their fears and fighting their traumas. Their tormented souls reflected by their eyes. And every time they leave after their successful treatments and sessions with a promise to start afresh, I see you smile at me with satisfaction through them.
With all my courage today I sit down after almost 10 years to write this letter to you after the successful counselling and treatment of my 50th patient. Janish Parul (you know Parul) she had been suffering from mental trauma caused due to her early marriage with a guy who was of her father’s age. She left our centre happily today, ready to start afresh, a new chapter of her life. I saw you smile again today through her. This letter is a symbol of gratitude for you Parul to let you know that I am thankful you came to my life. You came to my life with a lesson and changed it forever by giving it a motto to work for throughout my life.
I am sorry dear for not being able to be of any help at that time, I wish I could have been. But, I guess you came to my life with a lesson to make me understand that beyond this pomp and show of sexuality there exists a darker version of it least talked about. You are the reason I got an aim in my life.
I know that this letter would never reach you Parul, for I don’t know where you are but I wish that through this letter I pour out my feelings and emotions, which might reach out to you in one sense or another. I hope you know Parul that I pray for your well-being every day.
Your loving unknown elder sister
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