Sunaina
Short Stories

Sunaina: The Widow That Didn’t Cry

It was a fine morning. Mr. Mehta was reading the newspaper and sipping his morning tea. Mrs. Mehta was watering plants while Sunaina, their daughter-in-law was preparing the breakfast. 

“Don’t know what Sunaina does. Seven years of marriage, yet she has never learned the values and traditions of our family,” Mrs. Mehta was murmuring as she sat on the sofa.

“I wonder if we could have got a better match for your son Akhil. He’s such an innocent and hardworking man,” Mr. Mehta said.

Oblivious to what her in-laws were talking about her, Sunaina was busy in the kitchen. She had so much to do as her husband Akhil had already assigned her various works. However, it was still 8:30 am and Akhil went to the market without even asking if she needs any help. Suddenly, the phone rang. Mr. Mehta received the call.

The next thing that he heard made Mr. Mehta go numb. His face turned white and he froze on the sofa he was sitting on. Mrs. Mehta upon sensing something wrong asked her husband.

“What’s the matter Manoj. Who called you and what did the person say?”

“Rekha,… our s… son Akhil…,” Mr. Mehta managed to say while breathing heavily.

“What happened to Akhil?” Mrs. Mehta nearly screamed.

“A… Akhil met with an accident. He is… no more,” Mr. Mehta spoke and broke into tears.

Upon hearing her father-in-law cry, Sunaina ran to see what happened. She saw the elderly couple shedding tears. When Sunaina asked why they were crying so bitterly, Mrs. Mehta nearly dragged her and told, “You have lost your fortune. Your husband is dead. He’s no more.”

“What? How? He said he will be right back from the market.”

“H… he met with an accident.”

Sunaina was shocked to hear this. She sat right there on the floor. Though she wasn’t shedding tears, she was clearly lost. She didn’t realize that one of the neighbors already came inside to see what was going on. Perhaps he heard the cries of the elderly couple. While Sunaina was staring at the wall with blank expressions on her face, people were trying to comfort her. 

But Sunaina couldn’t take it anymore. She went to her room and bolted the door. She lay down on her bed and kept staring at the ceiling. Soon, she heard someone knocking on her door. People were asking her to open the door. Fearing she might harm herself, Mrs. Mehta pleaded with her. 

“Sunaina, my child, opened the door. We are here with you.”

“Please don’t harm yourself. You have your entire life ahead of you.”

“If not anyone, at least think of your children. How would Ria and Rohan survive?”

People kept pleading with Sunaina for 20-30 minutes before Sunaina opened the door. To everyone’s surprise, Sunaina wasn’t crying. None of her eyes were puffy or red.

“What kind of woman she is. She didn’t cry on the loss of her husband?” A neighbor whispered.

“Maybe she is in shock. She’ll cry when she is out of the trauma,” another neighbor replied.

By afternoon, the house was full of relatives, extended family members, and neighbors. They were feeling sorry for the Mehta family. But more than anything, they had sympathy for Sunaina and her children.

Soon, the corpse of Akhil was brought. Mrs. and Mr. Mehta cursing their destiny and shedding tears for their dead son. While they were grieving, Sunaina sat near the body. Gently, she lifted up the sheet covering Akhil’s body. She lifted the sheet in such a way that the only face was visible. One could clearly see the injuries and bloodstains over the face. Sunaina stared at Akhil’s face for 10-15 minutes. Though she had no expressions on her face, her eyes were full of tears but not even a drop rolled down. 

The neighbors who were concerned about why Sunaina wasn’t crying at all, were still waiting for her to cry. After the final rites were over, Sunaina went to her room and lay down on her bed. Finally, tears rolled down from her eyes. But Sunaina wasn’t sad. Those tears were of happiness. Yes, she was happy, even though she lost her husband. 

She went to her dressing table, looked at her face, and ran her fingers through her hair. It wasn’t that she lost her sanity. She was fine and in a good state of mind. She took the picture of Akhil in her hands and said, “Akhil, I never knew you would bid goodbye so soon. I am sad about your sudden demise. Our kids are grieving and this breaks my heart. But do you know I don’t feel any pain of losing you?”

“You must be wondering what kind of wife I am. But trust me, I am relieved. It’s not that I am not loyal to you. We have been married for seven years and tonight I’ll sleep peacefully. I won’t have to fear sleeping next to you.”

“Tonight, I won’t have to think of excuses to keep you away. Though we were husband and wife, I don’t think you ever considered me your wife.”

“Do you remember the first night after our wedding? I was waiting for you with so many wishes and hopes for our future. I thought we would be the best-ever couple. Little did I know, I was waiting for the person who would grope my modesty every single day.”

“I told you that I wasn’t ready for consummating our marriage so soon as I need some time. But you didn’t listen to me. The way you pinned me down, broke all my hopes, shattered my dreams, and killed my wishes and desires. You didn’t even care about my discomfort and the excruciating pain caused by what you were doing.”

“On the morning after the first night, I took the help of makeup to hide the marks on my body. However, people complimented my look but they didn’t understand it was just to hide the bruises.”

“Well, this wasn’t limited to one night. Every night you would come to me to satisfy your needs without caring about my health, emotions, and consent. I still remember those days when I used to make excuses to escape your inhumane behavior. You would shut my mouth and hit me until I would give up.”

“Each time you reminded me that it was my duty to fulfill your needs. Not even a single time, you touched me with love. I craved your love, caresses, and affection. Perhaps, my married life was never destined for love and affection.” 

“What hurt me, even more, was the fact that none of our loved ones considered it wrong. The women in our family asked me to consider it true love and my duty. But was it really love? And if it was my duty, then all I got in return was bruises, verbal abuses, and never-ending pain.”

“But tonight, I will sleep peacefully and won’t have to shed tears silently. I won’t be going through marital rape any longer. I hope you find peace and if in case you take rebirth, please make sure you do not repeat these things.”

Also read: Shekhar, The Man I Loved

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