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 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.
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.
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.