She never fell sick. It was her sister and her brother who’d fall sick alternately and become the babies, but she was strong as an ox. Her mother would boast to one and all, my first born, she was a chubby baby, fat hanging off her thighs and cheeks, you could bite her. Such a strong immune system too. Look at these two, forever some cold, cough, fever, pain here and there.
So she suffered through the health, unable to miss school, and get pampered like the other two would. Once she even tried getting completely drenched in the rain. Came home and hoped the next day she’d be burning with fever. No such luck.
..and then one day she looked up the papers for her number. The Engineering and Medical entrance exam results were out. She searched frantically, willing to see the order of her numbers on her ticket would match the ones strewn all around. There was a 7 in place of her 6 and then there was a 1 instead of her 2. Hers didn’t display. Her heart now sank back into place and kept sinking. She wasn’t the chosen one despite her 98.3% at her boards and 47.4 in the entrance test. She sat still in the corner and waited for the screams and the shouts that would echo for the next few days to come from her mother. Miserable, she waited.
The blows came, from her father. Just like that, out of the blue, he yanked her up by her long braid and slapped her hard. Shocked, she watched him mutely. The anger in his eyes mixed with disappointment shaped the blows that kept coming. She fell on the floor, and he would lift her up and push her down again. The broom came, her dark legs bore surprising brown welts for weeks together. The stings were painful, but the tears didn’t come very much. Still in shock, she kept saying this to herself. Daddy? Really? Daddy was angry? She had let her daddy down. Mom was supposed to be angry, not Daddy.
The next morning, she woke up with rashes all over her. Fever at 103, her bony frame could barely move from the bed. Mom got her some milk, and she lay cowering in bed cursing her luck about that seat. That afternoon the fever went up and her friend dropped by with the news on all who got in. A fresh set of pain and shouts and disappointed frustrated withering looks from her daddy.
Daddy never shouted at her. She was daddy’s little girl. She must have really disappointed him. She remembered that first breaking of the news, the rest of the days after that were a haze.
As a young woman, she managed a beautiful home and children and her husband was a gentle soft man. So much freedom she had and the curious cat in her continued to explore and enjoy the little adventures the world kept throwing at her. So she made friends over the net and played scrabble on Yahoo Games. She was awesome at it. There were the silly message boards and she would make sillier rhymes and call them poems. Nicks loved her. She became the most well loved ‘aunty’ on the board. A few young boys doing their graduate studies here felt an affinity towards her. She’d call them her “boys” and she would send neat little packages of pickles or some sweets she made. They were after all so far from home. A loving respectful bond developed and she found a new sibling love through them.
Unfortunately for her, one particular boy didn’t reciprocate similarly and in his dazed hormonal state thought he was in love with her. Young boys act on their hormones and he immediately produced a long winding document professing his love for her. She chuckled at it while reading and instead of admonishing sternly, she reasoned with him and forgot all about it.
That evening, she left her inbox open and ran to pick up the kids.
After dinner, she cleaned up and went to bed. A rude jolt wakes her up and it’s her husband beating her and dragging her by her hair, slapping her, pushing her. Called her a whore. A cheap woman that would sell her wares to grad students. Mutely, she looked at him shocked. Really? It’s him? Her dear husband, who would never ever raise his voice with her, who accommodated all her needs, he was actually inflicting pain onto her. It went on and on and she reasoned and wept, but he felt letdown.
The next day she woke up with a fever of 103 and miserably in pain all over. When she went to wash, she saw a large zit on her face next to her eye. It hurt. By afternoon, her torso and back was filled with tiny pustules. She remembers him taking her to the doctor, and being declared that she had the attack of the chicken pox.
She remembers shuddering at his voice that day. Really? How could a gentle soft man do this to her? She had let him down. She should never have spoken with all those young boys. ..but she was a married woman. After the doctor’s visit, the rest of the days were a blur.
Many years later she befriended a nice man. Sharing similar tastes and likes, the bond grew strong. A friendship that not many would understand, but which she prided in. It was beautiful. She knew she could never replicate it nor try explaining it, so she enjoyed it in her privacy.
During a particular vulnerable moment, she let her guard down and confessed a few private details to another. One thing led to another and the words changed meaning and course and hell broke loose.
Just like that she heard a loud harsh voice going on and on at her. Nothing he’d screamed. I feel nothing towards you. Nothing. You heard me? I’ve gone over this multiple times, I have nothing for you. She stood listening, shocked. Shocked at the mellow laughing voice that had taken a rasping grating edge. Anger in supreme form. More words were thrown at her while she stood in the hallway outside the restroom and whimpered. Her heart raced, and an already fragile state rattled.
Really? It was him? He is actually angry at me and shouting at me? It can’t be happening. I don’t understand, how could he act this way with her? He was disappointed with her.
That night she shook violently in bed and was hot to the touch. Delirious she kept denying she said any untruth. Her husband couldn’t make much sense of what had happened to his wife, but he was a responsible man. Her temperature touched 104 and not knowing what else to do, he dragged her to the tub and doused cold water over her to bring the temps down.
The next few days her fever spiked and her faculties swayed in and out. She doesn’t remember much of what happened in the days after that, it was a huge blur, but she remembers every word that led to it. She knew she was at fault. She had let him down. She had let her friend down.
The three wonderful gentle important men in her life and she let them down individually. These random acts did not define them, they were just disappointed with her. She loved and respected them all, differently. She knew they cared for her too. Cared enough to take the liberty to admonish her. She was very fond of them all, and when she thought of them, a smile played on her lips.
She now sits in her dim study staring at the blue computer screen. Her brain a pudgy mush. Blind barren spots around the sharp ragged edges of the events.
The multiple virus attacks were vicious. The CPU needed work. Anti-Virus should be installed.
The doctor however told her son that she would most likely not recover from Alzheimer’s, and the onset of it went way back.
She looks at her son from the corner of her eye and waits. He was the last important man in her life. She convinced herself that she’d let him down some day. So she waited for the attack to come. This time she was learning from history. She would at least not be shocked, and she had a large dose of Tamiflu and Acyclovir stocked away in her dresser drawer next to her bed.