It was a four hour journey to my destination and one hour into my train journey, I was 18 songs down and tired of watching the trees whistle past my window. The entire compartment was vacant except for a few insane souls. In front of me, sat a young man in his late twenties. I looked at his trousers, then his shoes and finally his face. He wanted to cry but he was controlling himself. I have this uncanny ability to deduce people and their present state of mind. I knew, he had been through something quite horrific. Although, I don’t like admitting but I was not completely sure. I dispensed my earphones into my pocket and stared at him. Our eyes met and faintly smiled, a friendly gesture to break the ice. He smiled back at me but trust every inch of smile expressed that he would have preferred to cry. I started the conversation and he came across as a confident young man but I knew there was something unusual. He was hurt and he needed a confidante.
“Sometimes, strangers are good. You never see them again and opening out your storms to them actually helps.” I quietly winked at him.
“Why would you say that?” He asked.
“I study body language, human behavior, observe people and analyse their expressions for a living. I believe I am quite good at that.”
“Why would you want to listen?”
“So, that you feel lighter. It always helps. I don’t have anyone to vent out my emotions. You are lucky, I am giving you an opportunity.”
There was silence for a few minutes. The train stopped at a remote village for about fifteen minutes. I did not speak again. He had diverted his attention to the world outside the train. Perhaps, I had offended him. I usually did that to people, dwell into their minds and confuse them. I was a private consultant with the Mumbai Police, I studied criminals. The train started moving again slowly at snail’s space. He leaned forward and placed his hand on my knees. I could see moistness in his eyes. I whispered softly. “Let it out.”
‘I have always hated weekends from my childhood. Everyone loved weekends but I hated them. I hate them even today. It meant I had to spend 48 hours at my home with a monster, my father. My parents were married 26 years ago. From the very first day, my mother has suffered through the monster’s clutches. She has never complained and never even thought about leaving him. All the monster wants his daily dose of alcohol and supremacy. He doesn’t care about anything else. Initially, when I was a small kid, I couldn’t comprehend things. As I slowly progressed towards teenage, I realized how crude he was, the monster. He abused my mother verbally, physically and mentally. It was like living in a prison. Everything in the house happened according to his whims. If he wanted the lights to be switched off, they would be switched off, if he wanted to watch television at the middle of night, he would do that. He never cared for my mother nor me. I remember him beating my mother because there was no salt in the curry. I sat in a corner cried all night on my mother’s lap. I don’t remember how many times that happened. Yet my mother never let anything happen to me. She always protected me from the monster, from his beatings, from his abuses, from his pugnacity. She is the reason I grew up to be sane despite watching domestic violence every single day of my childhood. Yesterday, he came drunk again as usual. He switched off the lights and in the middle of night started screaming at the top of his voice. Apparently, he was hungry. He called out for my mother. The ideal wife, she has always been, she quickly cooked up something at one hour past midnight. He tasted it and threw it on the floor. He called her a bitch who roams around the city searching for men to satisfy her needs. I entered the room, my patience of 21 years had exhausted. I quietly asked him to stay quiet. He didn’t. He abused my mother again, I don’t want to tell what he abused, but that was the moment I pointed my fingers and asked him again to stay quiet. He stood up and abused my mother again, the monster. I raised my hand and slapped him, he fell to the floor. My rage had turned to tears. I was crying as loud as I could. He was on the floor. My mother pulled me back and asked to me leave the house. She slapped me hard, “How dare you hit my husband? She asked. My tears stopped. I silently walked out of the house. How much can a woman sustain, 25 years of insults, beatings and abuses and yet she still loves him. She scolded me and asked me to leave the house.’
He was flooded with tears by now and I have to admit there were a few tears in my eyes as well. It’s hard to physically hurt your father, but quite easy to hurt a monster.
“When did this happen?” I asked.
“What kind of world is this? For 25 years she gave her everything to a monster that does not even deserve it, and yet she is the one who has to suffer.” He hugged me tight. I patted his back and consoled him.
“Perhaps, that is what love is all about. Never giving up despite all odds. I don’t know your mother but tell her, she is a great woman. I know you are here trying to run away from everything. Go back to your home, your mother needs you.”
I never met him again after that day, but I know he would have definitely gone back home to his mother. A woman wronged by her husband couldn’t be wronged by his son as well, even if it meant living in the monster’s shadow. The almighty is not so crude.