It Is War

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It wasn’t particularly the cloudy weather. It had already rained. It wasn’t the work load weighing down on her. She was more than habitual to that. It wasn’t a bout of complaining and cribbing that she was putting up. It was as normal as any other day. Yet there was something missing in the whole scene. As she sat in the kitchen, preparing for the night’s meal when her husband would come home, she felt extremely uncomfortable. A strange panic struck her heart making her feel short of breath. She didn’t quite understand why her heart was raising an apprehensive alarm on this markedly normal day. So she just gulped down a glass of water and lied down on her bed. Her mind was ticking with an unease she hadn’t ever felt before. She just wanted her husband to come home as soon as he could and be with her. May be company would make her feel better. Either way, she forced herself to get back to work.

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Soon after, she heard her doorbell ring. Too soon for her husband, too late for the relatives, wrong day for the dhobi. Heart still beating at the abnormally fast pace as before, she opened the door to a group of men; all of them were from the same locality. Before anyone said anything, she felt her knees feel weak as she noticed the face of gloom all those landlords were carrying. And then within a split second her world came down collapsing as they told her the story that they had witnessed and were there to tell her about. Within the matter of a few words, they formed for her, the end of her life, as she knew it. Within the tears being blinked back, they pulled off the curtain for her, giving her reason enough to mourn and grieve. Within the clutter of a few hand gestures of submission and apology and sympathy, they told her that she was from now on, on her own. Within minutes of unease, they told her that her husband was now dead; murdered brutally with only a mutilated, decapitated body left behind, which the wife had best not seen. And with that, they left her there at the door. They left her stunned, too shocked for words, too shaken for comprehension. She stood there at the doorway trying to grasp her mind around the fact that she had just opened the door to the news of her husband’s death. She stood there trying to tell herself that this had just happened. She stood there trying to follow what she had just heard, that though she doesn’t even get to see it for herself, her husband’s body was gone as much as his soul was. She stood there gasping for air, fighting for breath, struggling for strength, battling for comprehension. She stood there till her legs gave way and she could not stand anymore and so she fell at the doorway. She sat there wondering if she would ever be able to leave the doorway, the place where she got the news of her husband’s death because there was nothing else that she got. Not a body, not a goodbye, not a warning, not a proof; just plain old news. And with that, she stood up, energised with a sudden surge of blood rising up in her body. Somehow, the grief flew out the window as her anger replaced the despair.

She replayed in her mind every piece of the story that the group of men had told her. Her husband had been a landlord. It was well established that the neighbouring villagers eyed his land, largest in area within the vicinity with sheer spite and envy. After several failed attempts of a pact, they had even tried blackmailing him into a settlement. He was a firm man if anything. It was his father’s land and he was more than sure that he was not going to split it or share it or give it away for whatever price money. Helpless at the hands of a man of his words, they had used force upon him, violence, and knowing that the land was heir-less, had beaten him to death.

Wrong was oozing out of the whole narration. She might be a wife and might not have been a part of her husband’s business, but she sure as hell knew wrong when she smelt it. And if there was one thing that this whole incident was, it was wrong. She took a moment staring at herself in the mirror wondering whether what she was thinking of, would ever work or not. She wondered whether she would survive or come out bleeding from the battlefield. She wondered why she did not know how to use the sword. She wondered why only her brother had been taught to use and been given a gun for protection and security sake. She wondered how things would have been different now if she had been equipped with all that her husband kept him surrounded with. But as she realized how different things were now, she braced herself for the worst.

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All ready and set, she admired at the flawlessness of her reflection. She felt strong and she looked beautiful. And with a mind as firm as her husband’s, she went to the neighbouring village. It was night time, so she kept herself covered with a shawl till se reached her destination. With soft steps, she entered the scene through shining curtains, identified the faces that laughed with an undeserving satisfaction and sat at the corner to observe. In the sound of the dancing entertainers and the mist of the smoke, none of the men noticed a new entrant. So after a few minutes of observation, she slid onto the centre of the stage and with a veiled face, introduced herself as their wildest fantasy, their enticing dream. And then she danced. She danced to her heart’s delight, not the slightest hesitation, stomping her feet down with a thud every time, making each and every single person in that room stare in awe and veneration. And with that, she let the traces of her grandeur have an upper hand as the man took her hand to take her inside one of the rooms. With the lock of the room, she smiled and unveiled her face and twisting around in her dance, made the man get lost in happiness and pleasure. It took her less than a minute then, to put her hand on his mouth and his sword to this throat. And with that, she let her dance end. As she moved the sword to serve its purpose, she pictured her husband’s face. She felt a sudden rush of relief. She felt disgusted with herself but she knew she wasn’t stopping. She had not come all the way to stop now. She was going to take them all down one by one. She would avenge her husband’s death. She might not have been taught how to use weapons. But she knew how to fight a war.

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She was a girl. She was the victim. She would cry when the time comes, but first she was going to settle this account. If there is something, women are good at, it is keeping scores even. The oddity of this case didn’t go down too well with her. She wouldn’t cry till she had made them cry. She was going to fight this war, her way.

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