The singer, the nurse and the brick

I am sure Amit of Mashed Musings needs no introduction here. He calls himself a movie buff, a book lover and a male feminist, and his posts reflect these aspects. He is an awesome writer to boot. He writes about subjects of such intensity in a humorous tone, but in a way that never fails to make you think.

I was introduced to Amit’s blog by R’s Mom, and I was hooked to it from the first post that I read.

I am very happy to present to you the guest post that Amit has so kindly written for my blog. Without further ado, here you go….


Image Courtesy: Here

Living in apartments is an experience in itself. You are like a chimpanzee in a zoo. You know what happens in the next cage. You know why the lion (Mr. Chawla) is sulking because the lioness (Mrs. Chawla) roared at him in the morning. You know when the family of baboons living downstairs have again littered the stairway. You know when the eagle (Mrs Juneja) is keeping an eye on you. But sometimes certain incidents happen when you seriously start believing that a zoo might be a better place to live, when the mere thought of living with humans is like a stone on your heart.

The Singer

The singer lived in the ground floor flat. He was actually a property dealer but considered himself to be the reincarnation of Mohammad Rafi. He lived with his wife and a son and they seemed like a pretty decent family. The wife was a nurse. When they moved in, she was pregnant and soon gave birth to twins, the most beautiful girl and a handsome boy. They were like two beautiful dolls.

The singer was a specimen for whom God could be dethroned by passing a no confidence motion. He would bore his customers with his songs which he would play with a harmonium kept in his office. Somehow his customers were as bad specimens as him and would appreciate him. Soon he had a mike and loudspeaker installed in his office and would practice at night. The whole colony would stay awake listening to distortions of old songs. The singer was so happy that the colony appreciated his vocal capabilities because no one complained. You see, we were very polite people.

Soon his mentor started appearing at night and they would have a harmonium and taanpura duet. Over the loudspeaker. His basic criteria for hiring a servant was that the guy should know how to sing. Soon we had a whole brigade of singers entertaining us as we switched off the lights and prepared to sleep.

His elder son was a good singer too. His wife was a good nurse and had night shifts because she was a smart lady. And where was I during this daily concert, you may ask? Well, I slept right above his temple of music. Unfortunately, my family possessed an apartment above his. Dad started keeping a long iron rod in the bedroom and when the going got tough at nights, he would bang the rod on the floor three time, just like Gandalf smacking his staff on the ground for some magic. The sound would turn full-blown group songs into murmurs.

I was in 6th grade at that time, and this went on for two years. Studies were getting tough and it was hard to concentrate with someone singing Raag Deepak with a twanging taanpura over a loudspeaker. My parents were frustrated.

The Nurse

I had never seen the singer and his wife as a ‘husband and wife’. They were never together publicly and I had never seen them passing even a smile to each other. The twins were now two years old and were the cutest kids I had ever seen. The singer used to fight with his wife at times. I know this because their bedroom was right below mine. The fights were usually a few heated words and banging of doors.

One night I heard the nurse screaming. My parents were immediately up and had their ears on the ground. Dad contemplated using his iron staff, but was not sure. There were sounds of thuds, slaps and more screaming. Mom and Dad did not want me to hear all this, but there I was, getting my first lessons of life.

The nurse was constantly screaming and cursing her husband.

“That is all you can do, you pathetic loser!” she kept saying as he hit her again and again. the children were crying in the background.

Then we heard a crash, and suddenly, we were a part of the whole fight.

“Sharma ji!!!! Save me please!” the nurse screamed. It took dad a moment to realize that he has been addressed and need to save the damsel in distress.

Mom and dad immediately went downstairs and urged the children to open the door. I was asked to stay in my room, but I was able to listen to everything from the window in my room. My heart was thumping in my chest. Dad held the singer away from the nurse while mom got busy wiping tears off the faces of the kids as she took them in her arms.

Mom told me a few years later about what she saw that day. The nurse was badly bruised when my parents rushed in. Her one eye was swollen and completely shut, her lips were bleeding and her upper lip was swollen. There were bruises on her forehead, back and arms. The singer had hit her with a folding chair when she screamed and called out to dad.

She moved out after a few days with the kids. Thankfully, she had a job. The singer continued to sing on the loudspeaker and entertain us.

The Brick

A few days later, I had my 8th board exams and was studying really hard, trying to filter out the sound of music coming from the ground floor. Mom was very very angry mainly because of what happened to the nurse and because I was not able to study at all. Something snapped inside her. And when mom is angry, you better dig a deep hole in the ground and hide inside it. She picked up this brick lying in our balcony and sent it flying towards the entrance of the singer’s shop. It crashed and broke into two, which lead to the notes coming out of the harmonium freezing in mid-air. The singer came out and looked at mom.

“It could have landed on someone’s head,” he said.

“It didn’t,” mom said and came inside.

Somehow, he mellowed down after this incident, and the loudspeaker was removed. The singing completely stopped in a few weeks.

I never saw the nurse again. I saw her kids a few years back. There faces were how the faces of kids are supposed to be. They were saved at the right time, or were they?

That was not the last incident of domestic abuse I witnessed as a teenager. A few years later, another family moved into the adjacent apartment – a husband, wife and their two beautiful kids. My parents again saved the wife from flying chairs and wiped tears from the cheeks of crying children. The wife never left because she was not doing a job.

Looking back, these incidences robbed me of my innocence. I was not supposed to have had these experiences. I shudder to think about the children who actually saw their father mercilessly beat up their mother. As they grow up, will they be capable of love or of an emotional attachment of any kind?

Yes, a zoo might have been better. I don’t think animals are capable of doing what I saw humans doing to each other.


63 thoughts on “The singer, the nurse and the brick

  1. Made me read completely in one stretch…very nicely written in simple words and a smooth flow. Liked the topics you choose and the way you presented. Yes, many woman don’t leave b cos either they don’t work or fear they can’t make it on their own. Will dig into your other posts too..:)


      1. Yeah.. I knew it was Amit’s post…the comment was for him too and thanks to you for having his guest post…I came here from his blog only…:)


  2. Such a sensitive topic written in such an immaculate manner. I lead a very protected life and never read or heard about such incidents. Our neighborhood had houses very far away from each other and so we didn’t hear anything ever.

    After marriage I started living in apartments. I’ve heard abuses, slaps, doors banging, crying, and what not. I’ve seen couples resuming normalcy the next morning. And I’ve wondered how could they share a bed.

    It’s a zoo out there, really. A zoo of violent animals and dumb animals.


    1. Thanks Nisha.
      We all experience realities of life one day, don’t we? I too could never understand how couples go back to normal after such incidences.


  3. @Amit: Just what do I say here 😦 It saddened me to read about the incident, my heart goes out for the nurse, the twins and the other neighbor lady and her kids…DV is something beyond my understanding..on hearing such things only one question comes to my mind-how come humans can do such things to each other and still manage to be called as human?

    Rightly said: Zoo would have been a better place!

    As usual lovely write-up! You have way with words Amit…

    @TGND: you’ve a great guest writer 🙂


    1. Scribby,
      We have done worse to each other. We have made shoes and bags out of human skin. Our race might go down as the worse race in the history of the universe.
      Thanks for your kind comment. 🙂


      1. Sorry, I went back a bit into the human history. During the Holocaust, the Nazis made soaps and shoes from the exterminated Jews. I was referring to that.


  4. And Karnataka Court asked a victim to adjust 😦 I think we have all heard such noises at least once – I am so glad your parents helped the victim.

    This is a heartbreaking post Amit and the girl next door. Makes me doubly glad Justice Bhakthavatsala has been removed from family courts.


  5. Domestic violence is treated in a very insensitive way by people who usually dismiss it as being a ‘matter between husband and wife,’ which is one of the reasons why they don’t intervene. We ourselves had to intervene during one such incident and despite the man demanding that we leave, we had stayed there long to comfort the two year old child and got the man sobered up enough to leave. It was an one-off thing that never go repeated with the man apologising to us the next day. Wonder if things might have got out of hand had we not gone up to stop it. Interestingly we saw the occupants of the flat opposite peeping through a chink in their door when we rushed up. They hastily withdrew when they saw us.
    That was a wonderfully articulated post that brought out so many aspects of the issue into focus, the main one being the children.

    Bell bajao is a wonderful ad campaign for this very reason.


    1. Thanks Zephyr.
      The couple in this case used to fight very frequently although this is the only incident of beating I could remember. It used to make me sad because I could hear it most of the time. I knew the three children went through hell because of this daily affair. They were a very sad set of children. Whenever I went to play with them, there was this sadness on their face. Of course I couldn’t get it at that time.


  6. Kids witnessing physical abuse is very distressing. No one knows what helpless anger fighting with love for a parent does to them. Your post evokes so many emotions but there’s one that is uppermost – wish parents taught their children to express their anger better to prevent them from turning into adult monsters. Of the millions of books on parenting I would recommend “How to talk so kids will listen and listen when kids talk.” As for your colony putting up with that moron’s loudspeaker, we Indians ARE polite. Perhaps we should get together and object so no individual is considered rude. What a wonderful first guest post.


    1. Exactly my thoughts. I have always wondered what kind of an environment the singer must have been brought up that he thought beating up his wife would solve something.
      I think people did ask the singer to take it easy but it was during some very polite conversations. The brick did the trick actually.
      Thanks for liking the post. 🙂


  7. Domestic violence between the husband and wife apart from damaging their own relations leaves a scar on the children – it is terrifying to think if the children at young age with their impressionable minds will learn something from it. Kudos to Amit’s parents for taking timely action – am sure there are many who will think why to interfere.

    Thanks to TGND and Amit we have a real life incident narrated here, which will get us a perspective to think that sometimes, one should interfere in other’s matters after all 🙂


  8. Amit, your narration just stays long after I have finished reading it.

    This is such a sensitive and delicate issue that most of us see in one form or the other, happening to someone around us. It takes a lot to offer help and stand tall. Your parents acted in such an inspiring way. You’ve been too kind by calling him the singer.
    What I find terrifying is the magnitude of the role played by a “job” in a woman’s life – at different stages of her life, I mean. Being equipped with confidence (inculcated right from childhood) goes a long way in fighting for oneself. Education helps, a lot ofcourse. I really hope that the kids learn the right lessons and go on to lead happy lives.
    Sometimes, writing about it here and wishing makes me feel helpess. Even though I am not.


    1. @Kismi

      Yes, I find the significance of a job in a woman’s life terrifying too. I totally get what you mean. That said, I think it is the confidence that you inculcate in girls that matters ultimately. There are many women who do not get out of abusive marriages in spite of having a job.


    2. Thanks kismitoffeebar.
      Money plays a central role in a lot of decisions. Think about anything and the first thought which comes to mind is – Do I have money for this?
      Even if we leave aside an abusive marriage, think about a scenario where the husband dies. What happens then? I know women have their own reasons but a job should not be just an option but a necessity.


  9. Amit, this is a very engaging narrative on a very sensitive topic. It’s amazing the childhood memories one carries into adulthood and how they shape our own views and perceptions. Respect your parents for doing what they did – takes a lot of courage. I feel for the children and hope they are doing better now.


    1. Thanks chattywren.
      Yes, and thankfully I picked up the correct lessons and I am grateful to my parents for that.
      The eldest son is now a tattoo artist. I think the twins must be in college by now. I hope they are doing well too. 🙂


  10. oh wow Amit.. what an intense post! 😦
    and yea, animals are better behaved than humans! Such a sad state of affairs!!
    your parents are totally inspirational.

    Economic independence is a must for women, though there are plenty of women who stay with the abusive husband even if they are working.. 😦
    I don’t understand why there is lack of courage even when our very lives are at stake!


    1. Pixie,
      That is another aspect of the problem. Women have been seasoned to think that some amount of physical abuse is Ok and they have to stay together for their children. A lot of marriages are built on that foundation.
      I do not understand how an abusive relationship can be better for a child than staying with a divorced single parent.


  11. Wow Amit your parents are truly inspirational! Your mum actually threw the brick??

    When I started reading I thought it was something funny but then it got so serious!


  12. Gripping narration. Started off on a lighter note but then made me think towards the end. Indeed, it is truly frightening for children to witness the ugly side of adults.


  13. I feel so sorry for those kids who witnessed their father beating their mom. Such a sad situation 😦 Financial independence of the woman involved does play an important role in her escaping from such a situation.
    Nicely narrated post 🙂


    1. I know. They were completely terrified. 😦
      And yes, it all comes down to whether you have money or not. It becomes the most important factor in getting out of the situation.
      Thanks for liking the post.


  14. Amit… I loved the way you narrated the incident – sensitive topic covered with a touch of humor! Totally agree with you on the last line.. Animals would never do this to each other and zoo is indeed a better place. I have a very vague memory of a new married couple staying next door to us fighting all time, much bcos of the drunkard-husband. Once he hit her and locked her up for 3 days and he went missing. I was 6 or 7 years old then. My parents and others banged on the door and later she was rescued when someone reached her through the balcony. Its sad, these kind of incidents keep happening. The couple I am talking about had no kids. But if kids should go through this, I am sure that will have a bigger impact in their lives.

    TNGD – Thanks for introducing Amit, I am going over to his blog now 🙂


    1. Thanks for liking the post greenboochi. 🙂
      I agree that such incidents keep sprouting with alarming frequency. I think it says a lot about how we bring up our children, the thinking of our society and about how adults sort out their differences.


  15. Well done Amit. You have written about a sensitive topic very well.

    Kudos to your parents! People would think that it isn’t any of their business to interfere in the neighbors’s matters. But thankfully your parents weren’t like that.

    Domestic violence would no doubt have a bad impact on the young kids minds! It is scary to even think of it.


  16. Amit as always has come up with such a sensitive post handled in his impeccable style.
    I feel more for the kids who are robbed of a family that could have been if that singer had little bit of sense left in him.


    1. Thanks Jas.
      Yes and it was so strange that the singer who was so much devoted to music could not gather a % of that devotion for his family. He was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of a personality to me.


  17. I loved the way you narrated such a sensitive and heavy topic with a lighter without losing the intensity 🙂
    This is why jump on your blog the moment we get the new pst email 🙂


  18. Kudos to your parents, Amit…It takes a lot of courage and a good heart to do what your parents did.
    I feel really sorry for those kids who witnessed their mother being subjected to domestic violence by their father. I hope they found love and happiness once they moved on.
    And you have rightly pointed out that having a job/ being financially independent and confident made it possible for the nurse to move out.


  19. again a topic of concern written beautifully. yes, it is very disturbing even as an outsider trying to understand the parents fight, i am sure the kids would have felt bad and confused. just cant imagine their state of mind at that point and later too..

    glad that your parents did right thing of intervening or else what could have been the kids state??

    financial independence, yes that is the reason my mom insisted me in studying and working till i can, so that i can be independent.


    1. I think the kids would be terrified at that point. Also it imbibes a wrong message in the head of a kid that you can make a point by hitting someone. If a person does not agree with you, hit him. Or it can completely pull then inside a shell. There can be a thousand ways this can play with a child’s mind.
      It is sad and terrifying.


  20. A sensitive topic well presented. How sad that such incidents are not uncommon! A depressing environment for the kids concerned and for the immediate neighbourhood too. Glad that the parents took the right step. They set up an example to their children that tolerating and turning a blind eye to injustice is perhaps far worse than committing the crime itself.
    As for the woman in question, kudos to her for stepping out of the man’s life. Financial independence for women today has become very important, almost a mandatory life-saving tool.
    Thanks TGND for introducing a lovely writer to us!


    1. Thanks Uma. Yes, I am glad that my parents went ahead and helped.

      All this was very depressing. I thought it was over after the nurse left but then another family came to live in the adjacent flat and the same story happened again.

      I also wanted to convey through this post that it is very important to be financially independent. The Nurse was able to leave but the woman in the second family didn’t because she had no choice.

      Thank you for liking the post.


      1. In this era the same story happened with me and I gave it back in same languauge and more mercilessly and it stopped …Yes I was embarassed and never shared , that was what my H told why I didnt tell anyone , now he understands and he is never able to share this with anyone 😉

        This happened because of the cultured boy I married and I was a l cultured Indian girl with Cultured parents who found faults in me for everything that happened , one of them , like I am not dressed to attract him enough…His skin is fairer than mine , I reply back when anything wrong , Do not know how to take abuse from elders after all elders can say anything we should not feel bad about it , its their job etc etc…

        Interestingly I came to know How much muscle power girls possess … really 😉

        Well my H thoughts have been completely changed by now , he comments very positively on any wrong doing in society … ofcourse for me he has bitterness for why did I teach him very great lessons , i have expose his parents wrong doing and that I do not know how to give them another chance(without they repenting or changing their ways) , I enjoy that..Still teaching him and everything my (his rather) psychiatrist supports me with warnings ofcourse..


  21. 1. Wow! Amit, your parents are a total inspiration…I doubt many people would have intervened and saved the person…Firstly big big salutes to them…

    2. I loved the way you wrote it…you have a way with words

    3.its really really sad, that two year olds had to witness this 😦 It just breaks my heart..and of course horribly sad that even someone who was in class 6 had to witness this 😦

    4. How come no one objected to the loudspeaker, I just cant believe it!!! I mean, how can some one be so non caring about others!

    5. Thanks TGND and Amit for the mention 😉


    1. Thanks R’s mom. Yeah, we have lived with some loony neighbors and my parents were always helpful in such situations.
      I had such a lasting impact on me about what I saw that it breaks my heart to think of those children who actually saw that happen.
      About the loudspeaker – Now that I think of it, it is amazing that we endured it for so long but somehow no one objected to it. Or maybe people did and the singer paid no heed.


  22. Such an intense topic, and so beautifully written, Amit. Reading this gave me goosebumps. I am glad your parents did what they did. I have never seen such incidents around me as I was growing up – or maybe I was way too naive to notice them.


    1. Thanks for having me here TGND.
      I am glad too that they went ahead and did what they did. Although this happened such a long time back, it is so vivid in my memories as if it happened yesterday.
      I really wish all those children found someone later in their lives to give them enough love to make them forget all about this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s