It was a dark and stormy night. Neena woke up suddenly hearing a noise in the kitchen. A male feral cat had come inside the kitchen and with threatening growls it was trying to harm the three kittens that were there with the female cat. Neena’s father kicked the kitchen door open and chased the male cat. Frightened, the male cat ran jumping toward her father. He gave a fierce kick that sent the male cat flying across the kitchen. It hit on a container in the shelf and fell down.
The feral cat got up on its four legs and ran toward the front door. When Neena opened the front door, the male cat escaped through the open door. The female cat inside the kitchen was trembling with fear. The three little kittens were found shivering and hiding behind the buckets of water in the bathroom. It was raining so heavily, and Neena felt so shaken that she could not sleep. The sudden chaos created by the cats made her heart beat faster. For days long, whenever she got nervous she started to murmur these words to calm her down.
“It wont b long, b4 i get u by ma side & jst hold u, tease u, squeeze u. Tel u whtz been on my mind.”
Repeating the words again and again she slowly went to sleep. Deep in her heart she yearned for a warm hug that would make her feel comfortable and happy. Though asleep, some of her thoughts wavered in the air and disturbed her dreams. She felt how her father tried to protect her and keep her happy.
Whenever her marriage alliances failed to click through, Neena could feel the pain in his heart. In India, if a girl failed to get married by 25, it made her parents more worried and unhappy. The feeling is same across the country from poor parents to rich parents. With Neena, it was more. With sharp facial features she looked good to look at. But people did not stop judging only by looking at her face.
In spite of having 28 inch waist that could be hold with a single hand, she lacked some more flesh to fill in her skeletal structure. Lack of muscles made her look skinny and unattractive. From her teens she had seen men who raised their brows and chuckled at her. But her urge for writing raised her confidence level higher and she thought she would be the best match to eligible bachelors in the whole world. But the world thought differently. Even her relatives who had an eligible bachelor in their family looked away from her.
After college, she started to realize how the world looked at her. For a girl, the society expected her to be fair-skinned with curves sufficiently filled in which fulfilled the norms of the society to meet the sexual needs of a man. Intelligence, smartness, creativity comes only after that. Some of her friends in the class planned to go and spend their time at the sea shore. As it was the last day of their semester exams, they wanted to relax and cheer them up at the Elliot’s beach, which was quite near to their college. As the last exam happened in the forenoon, they decided to spend the entire afternoon in the beach. When they reached the sea shore it was around 2:30 pm. Though the sun would be hot at that time, the sea breeze took away the heat. They all threw their bags and slippers and walked into the water.
When Neena hesitated to get into the water, her friends dragged her along with her. As most of them were wearing chudhidar, it was fun to stand in the waves. The cold waves rolled smoothly and touched their feet. Some of her friends waded through the waves till they got damped from head to toes. The chudhidar tops clung to their ribs and showed their youthful bounties. Some of her friends sat on the water and let the waves roll them. The entire place was filled with their cheerful laughter. Unmindful of other people around them, they screamed and jumped inside the water. One of her friends started to catch their pictures on her mobile camera.
‘Hi, Look at Neena.’
Their laughter mocked at Neena. Neena understood what they were commenting at and felt embarrassed for a moment. The dampened clothes clung to her and showed her not as a young girl with perfect curved features but a girl with a flat chest, skinny and not impressive.
Without answering them back, Neena walked away from the shore and picked her bag and her slippers. With staggering steps she started to walk on the sand. The sea breeze and the hot afternoon sun dried her dress within minutes. ‘Neena,’ everyone started to call her. Not answering them back, Neena hurried toward the bus stop. She just wanted to get away from there and hide herself from the prying eyes of the world that always judged people by their appearance and looks and not by real virtue.
To be continued