In our ground floor house, it was hardly possible to sleep beyond 6 o’clock in the morning. Neighbours would gang up near our window, children began their games, and women their chatter – making it almost impossible to sleep.
But what’s a Sunday if you are not sleeping until eight. But on that particular Sunday, the commotion was too much for me. Frustrated I woke up and began shouting at mother for disturbing my sleep. Then found that it was not her gang that was shouting – it was an altogether different problem.
“Kajal’s sister has gone mad and is running all around the colony”, Ma explained.
For kids, this was more amusing than the host of programmes Doordarshan aired particularly for their age group. They would run to the end of the block to check her progress. Then when they saw her coming, ran back to their houses, as if a mad dog was after them.
The elders had a new gossip item. She is well past her marriageable year. Maybe her step-mother tortures her a lot. The girl is so afraid of water that she doesn’t take bath for days.
Did Kajal have a sister? I didn’t know of this.
They used to live in another block. Although I used to go to a friend’s house in the same block, I never knew that Kajal had a sister, this big.
“She was hysterical for long”. I heard father telling ma. They used to tie her in a dark room without food and water for days.
Somesh had already seen this girl running. Like his mother, he missed not an event. However, when I told him to accompany me for another view, he agreed readily.
There she was – at the edge of the well and threatening to jump. With hair loose and the kajal all messed up, she appeared as Goddess Kali.
I was too afraid to come near her. I ran when I saw her coming towards us.
Later during supper, I learnt that the girl was caught. Few men overpowered her and brought her home – to her dark room.
As days passed, the matter subsided. Kajal’s sister faded in memory just as she had appeared – only to be wiped out for ever.
One day when I was returning from school, I saw a huge crowd near Kajal’s house. Has she fled again? I was too hungry and tired to go check the actual occurrence.
At supper, mother gave the news. Kajal’s sister had died of burns.
But she was tied in that dark room. How could she have found a stove and a matchstick? Why didn’t any other thing burn in the process?
Everyone knew that the girl was brutally murdered, by her own parents, but no one ever talked about it in the open.