For Love, I’ll Fight - Short Story

by Vatsala Radhakeesoon

“I’m the master, you’re the slave,” he said with a tight grip on my wrists.
“No! Never!” I exclaimed like the thunder of rebel.
“You’re mine. Only mine.   Obey!”  echoed his fury in the room.
His eyes and face both looked red to me. His teeth were almost like that of a vampire craving to dig deep into my skin. I wanted to cry.  I wanted to shout but fear seemed to have engulfed my emotions for a while. All within me seemed to have gone numb. Suddenly, the scorching flame of a lighter, made me startled.
“O God!” I exclaimed.
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” he laughed.
“Your weak God” he said moving the lighter closer to my right eye.
“Submit!” he shouted.
I felt something prickling running through my veins. Soon my world was painted in black. No other shade or tone could I decipher.

I woke up with a feeling of heaviness around my head. My body was aching all over. I was alone in the room. Where was he? Where was the man who should have protected me? I looked around again. Something on the left side of our double bed caught my attention.  There lay some powdery substance and a syringe.
All-shocked, I broke down and cry.
“Who was my husband… Lalit  really? A drug addict? What did he do to me last night?” All those questions were racing in my mind.

I made myself a cup of coffee and sank absent mindedly in the sofa. All of a sudden the door opened and there he was.
“Lalit, where have you been?” I asked
“Just for a walk, and to buy some bread.”
“But where’s the bread, Lalit? I can’t see it”
“Oh! I just left…it…going to fetch it.”
“I can go as well…perhaps”.
“Oh, no! Not you! Stupid lady!” he exclaimed.
“Why not?” I asked swallowing my anger.
“ You keep on greeting and smiling at those guys on the street –your so called poetry fans.”
“When did I smile at them? I was just greeting them out of politeness.”
“Ah! Ha! You… flirt and cheater!”
“Lalit…but how? How could you accuse me of such …”
“No need to go anywhere” he shouted “You better start …the household chores.”
I broke down and cried , defenceless again.  Lalit left immediately.

I tried to busy myself in the kitchen but Lalit’s scornful words kept on echoing in my mind.
“What should I cook?” I couldn’t figure out. He was fond of non veg food and I was a vegetarian. Another ongoing struggle.  Once he had already forced me to eat fish and I was sick for a week with skin allergies.
“Enough was enough” I told myself confidently.
“Live! Live Live” this word repeated itself in my mind. Yes I wished to live but live like a woman of dignity. One who was respected by men and women for whom she was as a person. One who was free to have her likes and dislikes.
I had been married for three years but never did I feel loved by my husband. For him lust was everything and for me love meant the world. We could no longer go on like this.
“I will stand up for my rights” I boldly told myself.

I was still lost in my reverie of becoming the strong Mauritian woman when suddenly a dark cloud shadowed it all. Lalit was there.
“ What are you doing” he roared   “dreaming in the kitchen, not a single housework done? You   are useless as a wife.”
Before I could say anything, he hit me on the forehead with all the force of his fist and my head banged on the kitchen walls. My head throbbed with pain and I fell to my knees, covering my ears with my hands and bursting into tears. Then I composed myself and shouted “Enough! That’s enough! I have had enough.”
He stared at me all- panicked by my unexpected reaction.
I stood up, boldly looked at him in the eyes and said “Lalit, do the household chores, yourself. I feel weak, my head hurts but I do not seek any comfort from you because you are incapable of showing any compassion towards anyone.
Lalit, I’m going away , away from your house, your life , your world. I’m going to live my life as I wish.”

He was about to hit me again but I felt as if some divine energy guided me and I grasped his hand to stop him. Then, I let go of his hand. He looked all discomfited.
He lit up a cigarette and left the kitchen. I rushed to my room upstairs, gathered my belongings and left my husband’s house located in Vieux Quatre Bornes.
Living happily at Quatre Bornes was my dream but alas that dream was now shattered .However, I was determined to start a new life, fight for justice and embrace new dreams of hope.

I returned to my parents’ house at Rose-Hill. Being in my hometown made me feel better. I felt a fresh breeze blowing in my life. Rose-Hill, in spite of being a busy business town had maintained its human warmth. That’s what makes that place peculiar.

My parents were horrified to see me in such a poor physical and disturbed mental state.
“You look weak” they both said unanimously.
“My child” said my father, “I did warn you he was not the right man.”
“Yes Papa” I said pensively “but I loved him. I waited everyday for a change.
I waited for a change in his behavior. But now I can no longer bear his atrocities. Now I’m no longer blind.”
My father sighed.
“It’s ok, dear.” He said sympathetically. “I understand.”
“Papa, I wish I had listened to you.” I added.
“It’s ok, my dear daughter” said my father softly kissing my forehead.

My mother wiped her tears and said “It’s ok, dear. Remember, we are always with you. We’ll stand by your side. Now it’s better that you freshen up, rest and eat something.”
“Yes Maa” I said “I’ll be back in few minutes.”

Being with my parents gave me strength, a sense of security and my true identity.
“Yes” said my inner voice determinedly, “I will fight against injustice. I will fight for my rights, for the rights of all women. And above all, I will fight for all forms of love that are genuine and bring peace to humankind.

 The second day at my parents’ house was like a new life for me. No tears!
No fears! What a wonderful morning! How blessed was I to have such understanding parents! After breakfast, I rushed to the municipal council of
Rose-Hill to inquire about the procedures involved in setting up a women’s support related organization.

With the help of my parents and my social activist friend, Anita , I managed to set up an organization  called ‘Rise Beyond ’.I initially hired my former classmate, Dorine as receptionist and two fresh Psychology  graduates as counselors.

The mission of Rise Beyond was  to provide  help and support to women who had been victims of domestic violence. Our activities mainly involved self-confidence building workshops aimed at firstly encouraging women to take care of themselves, believe in themselves and love themselves. Our counselors provided psychological counselling sessions informing ladies about their rights, and how to overcome mental blocks and heal the psychological wounds. We also encouraged ladies to be financially independent by accepting decent jobs. We even recruited some of them as our administrative staff. Our organization also provided safe accommodation as shared flats for those women.

Within a month, many women contacted us, followed our advice and benefited much from the facilities and help provided by our company. Many traumatized victims e-mailed us after the counselling sessions and provided us with the feedback that due to Rise Beyond, they had learned to change and re-learned to love their lives.

After being the director of Rise Beyond for two years and having met many women who had also been ill-treated by their spouses or husbands, I wrote my first self-help novel entitled ‘Strong and Dignified. It was dedicated to all the ladies of the world and its aim was to encourage them to stand up against cruelty inflicted on them in relationships.

To my surprise, this novel was much appreciated by readers and writer friends locally and internationally and good reviews flowed. This boosts my confidence in my writing career and my love for writing kept on growing. For writing – my first love, I kept on trying new styles and genres and became open to all themes. I broke all barriers, walls and rigid rules and embraced freedom of speech in my writing.

 After the launching ceremony of ‘Strong and Dignified’ at Pope Hennessy Hotel, something unexpected happened. As soon as   a few journalists had finished interviewing me, a tall and handsome man with neat and elegant hair style came to me.
“Congratulations, Ms. Vats” he said softly with a smile and warm handshake.
“Thank you” I replied spontaneously.
“I’m Sandeep” he went on saying.
“Glad to meet you” I said rather shyly.
Without any further word, I left.
“What was happening to me?” I wondered.
For a while I was mesmerized by Sandeep’s voice. Like all men, his voice was manly but it had something different, special. It had a blend of determination and softness, something that was new to my ears. Deep inside, I felt that this was the one who was going to protect me. Oh, I realized that love had really touched me.

Due to my bad experiences with my husband, Lalit ,  trusting a man was no easy task for me. I felt safe in my own cocoon  and a part of me had started to believe that love was not my cup of tea. However deep inside, another part of me did believe in what my poet friend, Allan said:
“Never shut the doors of love,
 Love is beautiful,
 Love is creation.”
I didn’t know which one was the better perception. So I resolved to keep cool and let God decide my fate. From time to time Sandeep’s voice and face kept on wandering in my mind. Something within my heart stirred and melted when that happened.

A few days later, I received a friend request from Sandeep on Facebook.
“Accept, Ignore or Block” I pondered
Finally, I accepted it and after one-month of chatting sessions and a few
face to face friendly meet-ups, we discovered that we had much in common.
We were both writers and our love for Literature, music, painting and Nature,
combined together,  made us explore new horizons of inspiration. With Sandeep, I felt complete.

In the meantime, I also managed to divorce my husband. I felt that humble Freedom at last smiled at me.

I’ll keep on fighting for the love of life, the love of writing and the true love of a man. Forever a fighter, I’ll surely be.