Excerpt from Untamed Heart - Mona Dash

Extract from ‘Untamed Heart’ (Tara India Research Press, 2016) by Mona Dash. ‘Untamed Heart’ is available in leading bookshops in India and online on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.in and Flipkart.com.


After lunch, appetites sated, when everyone retired to their rooms to sink into a deep slumber, pause for an hour and savour some moments of coolness on a hot day, Mohini quietly stepped into the living room. Nothing dramatic, none of the subterfuge you would expect with running away. A usual after-noon, silence sat in the room as if she belonged; the phone did not ring, the doorbell was silent.

The mute television cast shiny pictures on the walls. Mohini tiptoed across the room, stepping deftly over Gobind sprawled on his mat, suitcase held out. He remained sleeping, the doors of the two bedrooms remained shut, the air-conditioners whirred softly and people remained in deep slumber. People, though technically they were her family.

The case pulled at her arms; was it under the twenty three kilos stipulated by the flight? She hadn’t checked. She had no time to plan for this journey, a journey begun in haste, without a return date. She shut the front door of Flat 6; an elegant cream once, it was now dirty with fingerprints and smears of dust. Per¬haps in response to Mohini’s fervent prayers, the old lift with its grilled doors came up quickly.

‘Don’t open...’ she willed to the doors of the four flats on that floor. The last thing she wanted was someone to step out and say, ‘Mohini, so where are you go¬ing now?’ If everything went well, she would offer a coconut in the Shiva temple; whenever and wherever she would find one. The durwan was half-asleep on his chair and barely looked up when she smiled at him and made her way out of the gates of the flat complex. The May heat hung over the city, and for the first time she was glad of its intensity rendering everyone powerless in an afternoon slumber. The time of escape was carefully cho¬sen by her, not the thick of night but in this blinding heat that paralysed thoughts and breath. This heat which made you stop and sleep, and wake only when it was giving way to the evening coolness.

Now outside the gate, she was a part of the crowds – the vegetable sellers with the dried okra, the wilting coriander leaves free with any purchase, the cyclists pedalling tediously in the sun, the stoic cows with splashes of colour left over from being sprayed on at Holi; she was one of them. Just another individual on a busy Indian road. A dozen auto-drivers were parked outside and each of them tried to catch her eye.

Flagging one, she got into it. ‘To Connaught Place. Quick, jaldi! Jaldi!’

It was only when the noisy engine started, that she leaned back on the hard frayed yellow seats, suitcase at her feet, red hol¬dall still on her shoulder. Runaway, getaway, runaway.

The driver grinned at her in the side mirrors – a young guy in a patterned shirt – she realised she could have asked for a pre-paid auto and paid lesser, but you didn’t think of money at times like this. Nor of comfort, she thought, when the dust hit her face as he revved the auto and mingled with the maze of vehicles moving randomly with no adherence to traffic rules.

Looking at her watch, she went over the plan yet again in her head – a forty minute journey to the flat, ask the neighbours for the key and manage a quick dinner there.

‘Help yourself to what’s in the fridge,’ Rajani had said – ‘Or¬der a taxi to the airport at six pm.’ And then the flight out of India, that should work.

You are worth so much, Mohini; you can do it, voices from the past still lived within her. She knew she was worth much more. She had to believe in herself.

Once the flight took off, away from this country, she could stop looking over her shoulder to check if a known face was still chasing her, whether her past life was waiting to claim her back, she could relax. Then it would be part two of the plan. Go back to work, find a place to stay, find her feet, find a reason to live.

From that moment when it had all started some three years ago, to this sudden flight. From that moment when she had sud¬denly started questioning and throwing away all that was famil¬iar to her. From that Mohini of the four walls, to this Mohini set adrift.