In the dimly lit room she sat, her eyes gazing in the dark as if it carried all the wonders of the world. Anyone entering the room would have suffered from a sheer sense of claustrophobia but somehow the boundaries didn’t seem to bother her. She sat so still as if posing for a portrait, or if she were a statute. She was a piece of art, so magnificent that she carried a thousand tales within her. It’s not always the words that dictate the stories, sometimes it’s the silence. Sometimes the silence screams louder than the words. Sometimes not saying says it all.
The absolute stillness was broken by a loud thud at the door. Someone had brought her back to the reality as if some paint splashed over the portrait, or the statute came crumbling down to the ground. Her eyes widened. An expression crossed her face but lasted only a moment. Silently, she slipped out of her dungeon into the living room. It seemed like someone had tried so hard to give it signs of life, all the artificiality failing to provide so. Twenty seven years!
Twenty seven years ago, she had decorated this very room with her beautiful bony hands. Even when everything seemed to be falling apart, even when her dreams shook under the immense weight of the reality, even when every promise, every hope seemed a fallacy, she worked. She worked to beautify her castle, the castle she was a prisoner of, the castle she was meant to never leave again. Somewhere in the darkness, she waited like a princess, like Rapunzel hidden away from the world. The only difference was, there was no one coming for her rescue. Twenty seven years ago, if you had seen her, you’d be baffled. If you had bumped into her younger version of twenty seven years ago, you wouldn’t have recognized her. Twenty seven years!
Pacing into the kitchen, she turned on the stove, her hands following the rhythmic patterns as if encoded to do so. The spark of the fire lit her eyes for a moment and faded. In the background, someone was loudly talking. Provided she was the only other person in the house, it was directed to her. Her demeanor didn’t change. Her hands worked at the same pace they did before. Years ago, she would have panicked, her hands would have moved faster, her heart would have thumped louder, but now, there was no rush, there was no panic. The speaker was standing in the doorway now. He did not look happy but her serenity never broke.The steam escaped the kettle as she poured the tea in the cup and at the moment, it was the only thing that seemed free.
Some order had been directed to her, to which she had silently complied. She was back in the dungeon which was now lit with much more light than the tiny room could afford.
Her now wrinkled hands reached the cup-board, flashing it open like a gateway into the past. The red dress glittered before her eyes, hitting her with a sheer nostalgia. Twenty seven years! Twenty seven years ago, when she had first set her eyes on this dress, she had beamed with such pleasure, she could have gone hysteric. Her mind had wandered off, far away into the wonder land. She had so excitedly chatted about her wedding day, and the life she had planned afterwards that her elders had to silence her.
On the day of her wedding, she had carried this dress like she had carried all her dreams, fancy and sparkly. She had been, without a doubt, the prettiest bride there ever was. Not because her beauty was unmatched, but because she had that glow, the spark of life. Her smile had shone brighter than the jewels around her neck.A curt voice shook her out of her memory lane, the very voice that had shaken her out of her dreams years ago. There was no evidence of violence because she had never been physically hit. And that was enough for the world to confirm her safety. Because invisible scars, no matter how deep they penetrate, never burst out on the surface, because no one wants to see them. Her hand shifted from the red dress to a dull grey one. She closed the cupboard shutting with it, the small hints of life.
Once again, she had to go out pretending to be alive, because to the world, she wasn’t dead, not yet. Because to the world, she was still scar-less, bruise-less, only old, withered out lady. The world was only willing to declare her dead, once she would stop breathing, once her heart would stop beating. Little did they know, she had stopped living a long time ago.
By Zirva Shabbir
Department of Humanities