Received Special Mention in the Memories from Books flash fiction contest
“You wait there. Madam is attending to an emergency case.”
The receptionist retorted with a masked indignation and hooked herself back to her ongoing tournament with ‘Angry Birds’. Her alienating attitude was justifiable because it was the third time Radhika had approached her in the last thirty minutes. She was there for an appointment with her gynaecologist.
The balloon of impatience and anxiety that Radhika clutched onto was a newly seasoned acquaintance. It was quite natural for a girl who had shed all her inhibitions for an entombed love. She had bumped into Krish at a social gathering after nearly five years. And with each sip of downed alcohol, their dormant desires aroused, leading to the consummation of their tryst.
That sensual night was a penny-ante until she missed her period. She was two weeks late, with three inconsistent results with home pregnancy tests. And the pregnancy premonition precipitated further through her newly bought novel of Preeti Shenoy, It Happens for a Reason.
The rippled ventures of a single mother doled out in print was engrossing but certainly not exciting. Why would anyone choose such a socially debatable life? Radhika was unmarried. And with no blooming desire of wedlock, she neither had the intention nor the clout to be a single mother. Motherhood is enticing and perhaps blissful as well. However, at present a ‘no-no’ for Radhika. She wished to get rid of her problem; if there was any.
“Doctor has gone for an ectopic pregnancy case. She will come soon.” The woman sitting next to Radhika uttered in consolation. In a long black gown with a small baby bump, she glowed in the glee of motherhood. With an angular face complemented with prenatal chubbiness, curly black hair abruptly cropped at the shoulder and with those big brown eyes showering the solitary commotion of bearing a child; she looked beautiful.
“I am Anika. And You?”
Radhika introduced herself. She had seen Anika before. A couple of times in the same clinic, when Radhika came for her regular check-ups. Her memories were agile, as Anika’s pregnancy nourished many a gossipmonger in the clinic.
“I have seen you before.” Radhika expressed. “You always come alone.”
Anika smiled and replied, “Difficult choices are rarely escorted.”
“Single mother, is it?” Radhika’s eyebrows knitted and before she could formulate any further, Anika broadened her reply.
“A rape victim too.”
The most blasphemous crime habitually macerated and hedged as a dirty secret for a woman was dauntlessly served in public. Rape bears a horrendous ordeal. Embroilment prospers in proving the accused guilty while the society grapples for abandoning the victim wholesale. Anika was true. She had certainly booked an itinerary unthinkable and unaccompanied always. But why?
Radhika eyeballed her protruded belly. Certainly the last trimester. Rape is a shame and an incessant blame game whose brunt is borne entirely by the victim. Amidst the patriarchy, where even a widow swallows a stifle in raising her child, Anika was bracing to bring a soul who would be a bastard for the world. Radhika was chagrined. Her own turmoil, fostered on an intangible conviction, appeared paltry before Anika’s resolution.
“Why didn’t you abort? Life would have been less oppressed.”
Anika smirked and answered.
“My rape didn’t happen in the proverbial dark alley. It occurred when I appeared ‘less virtuous’ during an exotic holiday. A girl, sipping on vodka, strolling with guileless confessions and unruffled in a male troop is often considered as ‘open for free sex’. Isn’t it?”
“You didn’t answer me yet.” Radhika murmured.
“I was raped due to my banal predisposition; Handsome is Harmless. My progressive schooling let me entertain four unknown sophisticated men in a foreign land, eventually leading to be raped by them. And this is the outcome.” Anika paused, patted her belly and continued.
“Now who should be punished? The disguised male chauvinism, which sees a woman as a sex toy or a woman’s nonconformist ruminations? Certainly the latter; if you consider the existing ambivalent societal prejudices towards womanhood. I did not understand the suppressed rules set forth for women. The mistake was mine. Then why should I kill this child?”
“Because the child will be called…You know.” Radhika’s voice trailed away.
“Rape is a reality. The sooner we accept, the quicker the wound heals. Abortion wouldn’t have erased my past. But giving birth to this child will definitely assert that there is something called HAPPY ENDING.”
Revolutions always embroider our history and revolutionaries embody our memories. The story is not about what happened to Radhika that evening. The story lies in that rebellious soul who had the audacity to shriek against the chimerical canons of society.
Radhika never met Anika again. But wherever she was, Anika would have become a great mother.