[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Birthday Dress by Neel Aruna C – Issue.XXI: October 2016 ” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″ margin_design_tab_text=””]web of events… and a story appears[/ultimate_heading]

Birthday dress

Introduction to the Author:

An aspiring writer. Author of “Dance of Lord, Part-1, A Bride from Moon”. And a Reiki practitioner. She never thought becoming an author as a destination but a new beginning of her life’s journey. Aruna believes “Right things happen at the right time if you keep on preparing yourself”.

Shakthi got down from bus in her stop Aramanam, a small residential area between a village and a town in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. She took the tip of her saree in her right hand and started walking towards her house. Her steps were slow and tired. Her smile had evaporated in the morning itself when her colleague said, “Sorry, this month I can’t help you”.

“How am I going to convince Ramya? Just one day more”, Shakthi worried.

1990’s were not a good period for middle class post office clerks. That too, for a woman like Shakthi, who had three wonderful unique daughters, a jobless drunkard husband and a vicious mother-in-law. She had never desired for a new saree or golden earrings. Even if she did, her salary had never allowed it. Her salary was almost perfect for feeding the children, paying their school fees and sometimes losing it to her husband for his drinking habit.

Shakthi entered her house with a dull face. Her 12 year old second daughter, Ramya ran towards her and asked, “Did you buy it?” Shakthi did not answer. How would she? When those innocent eyes were waiting eagerly to see her mother, bring a white birthday frock…

Finally Shakthi took a deep breath and said “No”. Saving five hundred rupees in the month of June is like convincing an Elephant to lay an egg. Both are impossible.

Tears rolled down on Ramya’s cheeks. She cried louder “Why are you doing this to me? Last year, my friends found out that I was wearing an old dress on my birthday. Till now they make fun of me”. That little girl cried hard and slept without eating dinner that night.

The next morning…

Shakthi woke up at four and washed her face to wipe away the sleepiness off her face. She looked herself in the mirror. That morning something struck her mind. She saw her nose stud shining brightly under the dim yellow light of 60 watts bulb.

Shakthi  got permission from office and left early. She pawned her nose stud and bought a white dress for 400 rupees and some chocolates. Shakthi thought to give a surprise for her daughter the next day. So she hid the dress in the kitchen slab.

That night, her drunken husband came to the house as usual at 11 pm. Shakthi served him food. He asked, “One of my friend said that he saw you in a pawn shop in the town. What did you pawn?”

Shakthi didn’t expect that! “Nothing”, she answered. Next happened was Shakthi falling on the kitchen floor because of her husband’s blow on her face. “Where is the money?” he demanded.

“I have no money! Please leave me alone”, Shakthi begged. “You bitch, I need the money now. I know where you would hide it”, he shouted and started to search the kitchen slab. He threw all the dabbas along with the frock in the floor. He could not find the money.

Before Shakthi could secure the frock, her husband had grown angrier than before. He threw the plate on her spilling all the rice on the floor. He did not stop. He got the sambar vessel and spilled it on the entire floor. That’s it. Sambar showered the white frock.

“Ah!”, Shakthi screamed and cried. Her children woke up and came to the kitchen. Ramya saw the Sambar stained white frock in her mother’s hand! Ramya did not know whether to be happy that her mother had bought the dress for her or to cry that it has sambar on it. Her feelings, even the urge to express them had literally died that moment. She stood there watching her mother cry over the frock.

Her husband grabbed Shakthi’s hair and asked, “What are you crying for, bitch?”.

But this time, the scene was quite different.  Shakthi’s sadness had already converted into rage. Before her husband lift his hand to give her another slap, Shakthi pushed him to the ground. Her husband hardly believed it. She grabbed her pallu and inserted in the left side of her underskirt, “How dare you?” Shakthi asked in a loud voice and grabbed her husband’s doti. She swirled him half way around the kitchen. He got hit by the back door in the Kitchen and again fell onto the floor. He lost his consciousness. Her mother-in-law who was watching everything cursed Shakthi and came to lift her son. But Shakthi switched off the light saying, “I pay the electricity bill” and accompanied the children to the bedroom.

The feelings that had vanished from her children’s face had reappeared as a smile. They smiled at each other and breathed the air that was filled with confidence for the first time. The real Shakthi had evolved in that middle class lady who had accepted her life with a drunkard as fate.

“I will never ask for a birthday dress again Amma”, Ramya promised. All three children hugged their mother tightly and slept. Tear drops that were washing Shakthi’s cheeks had dried so was her worries. That was the last day that her husband beat her… Ramya went to school with the white frock that had sambar stains here and there. But this time she was so happy about it.