Chapter 1 : Here
Chapter 2: Here
Everyone hates an encounter with the police. In India, this possibility manifests itself at every traffic signal in the form of a potbellied cop in an ill fitting uniform, mad at the world for keeping him standing in the sweltering heat. Maya though had to contend with something far worse. She was in a police station, that dirty, ugly building which is always busting with pimps and agents who sell every kind of service that is supposedly free. But none of them could coax Maya when she had walked in her head held high. Megha, her best friend, needed her here and here she was.
Megha was going through the rigors of a tumultuous marriage and after three years of unbearable coexistence had decided to end it once and for all. This report on harassment was the first step. Police constables in Bangalore are very accommodating to women like Megha, they knew she meant serious business when they first laid eyes on her. Maya, who had seen her go through all the crap, was sitting by her side (just as she had when Megha needed a shoulder to cry on), awaiting further instructions from the uniform in his pompous, broken English. Maya, you see, was a witness.
She had watched her friend try to fix what was a broken marriage from day one. The black eyes, the bruises, the pain had all been shared and Maya had stood up for her friend a couple of times. That ended when Megha got beaten up again for telling Maya about their “family problems”. The husband, perfect on paper, had turned out to be a monster of a man. The high profile job was excellent cover for a maniac, who expected total obedience from his wife. She was not to work anymore, Megha accepted. She could not talk to any of her male friends, Megha cried but agreed. She was not to wear jeans or T shirts, Megha had bought an entire wardrobe of salwars. Things started turning bad when He told her she didnt need to use the internet and cut the connection at home. She had protested, she loved the internet. It kept her in touch with friends, she skyped with her sister in the states and blogged incessantly. Without that Megha would not have survived. Thats when the beatings started. The first time, he had apologized the very next day, and Megha had felt he was just getting used to living with someone. The second time, the apology was shorter and half hearted. The third time, there was no apology. The fourth time, Maya had stepped in and this brought around a fifth and sixth attack. Megha had packed her bags and moved in with Maya. The very next day they were waiting to file the FIR. Today.
“Men are dogs.” Megha stated with a finality that made Maya almost accept it. But her mind flitted back to a face from yesterday night. Those eyes had stared right at her, in to her. She had felt a butterfly in her stomach. It flitted about again now.
Maya Rebello, decided this was not a train of thought that suited the occasion and let it be. That skill was what made Maya, Maya. Maya born to a couple from different backgrounds and religions, had been brought up like that. Her father often questioned her about random things that seemed absolutely normal.
“Why do you think the color green is connected to Islam ?”
“Why are there so many sects within Christianity?”
“If women are equal to men, why are there no female F1 racers ?”
The questions seemed random but had cultivated in Maya that curiosity to go beyond accepted norms. It had made her question the basic principles. It had given her the ability to detach emotion and personal bias from an argument. Which had worked pretty well for her. The best orator that her school, in fact the entire district had seen (as proved by the medals mom displayed at home), Maya had become an effective debater. Her joining mass media was not surprising for her parents or her teachers. The PR job for a small time NGO was a surprise. The company was unheard of, the role seemed to involve a lot of what could only be defined as sales pitches, it somehow didnt fit. But Maya had accepted the offer for one reason only. That reason was her boss. Ms. Monica Pande was the kind of woman Maya wanted to be. Strong, confident, successful and more importantly the kind of woman who was noticed when she spoke. The NGO worked to empower rural women, enabling them with skills and then supplying them with the raw materials to create products that had never ending demand.Maya had found a place where she felt she belonged, a job she loved and a boss she admired. Things were going good. Except this.
“Well, not all men and dogs are actually very faithful.”, she replied.
“Hmmmph !!! Maya, what the hell are you talking about ?’
“Nothing. There he wants us to sign something.”, Maya said , pointing. They duly signed in the form and equipped with a copy of the FIR exited the building. Sunshine never seemed so welcoming.
“Home now ?”. Maya asked. She needed a bath after the station.
“You go ahead. Dad lands day after tomorrow. I need to be in control before he gets here. Lots of things to do.”, Megha replied and was already waving goodbye as she started moving towards her car. The freedom from the shackles of marriage had given her a skip in her step. She seemed to be in a hurry, wanting to make up for lost time.
Maya headed home. The auto was at a signal when she saw him again. He was crossing the street, deep in conversation with a girl. He held her hand as they crossed. Sigh, maybe she had mistaken the look. Everything is not as it seems.