Shades of grey
She glanced at her watch. It was getting late.
"Sir, Can I leave now? Are the procedures done?"
The inspector looked at her. There she was, Shwetha, a wise yet unforgiving lady whose brown eyes were searching for an answer.
"You can. I will let you know if there are any further procedures."
She felt a sense of elation as she stepped out of the Police station. Was this necessary? Had she done the right thing?
"Yes I have"
The inspector looked down at the drunkard who was not just high with alcohol but with sorrow as well. He wondered if the charges against him were genuine. The pale dark face with a year of unshaven bushy beard and black eyes filled with sorrow and shame made the inspector wonder if he deserved to be punished or sympathized.
"What's your name? Where do you live?" said the inspector.
A year back, Maarimuthu was a man of example in the slum area, next to Annanagar. He lost his father when he was eight. He had to support his family and so had to discontinue his education. He worked in an automobile mechanic shop as an apprentice for a period of six months and soon became a permanent employee. He was the main source of income for his family of three. His mother, worked as a maid in the near by bungalows and made some money.
His younger sister meant the world to him. He educated her, pampered her and made sure she did not feel the absence of their father. He soon earned enough to open a mechanic shop on his own. Everybody around his neighbourhood were aware of his growth. Some were jealous. Some envied him. Most others appreciated him. He was a clean man living in the slum who did not abide to the others of his age, living there who were drunkards and perverts. Things were going fine. It was not much later that he planned his sister's wedding.
He was walking home from his shop dreaming about the perfect wedding he would arrange for his sister. He would make it a festival. Everybody would envy his sister. He would give everything his princess had always dreamed of.That was when the catastrophe struck. His phone warned him with it's ringtone about the tragic news that was to be followed.
It had been three days since the death of his mother and sister. He still refused to leave his home. Eventually, when he stepped out, it was to head to the TASMAC (a local alcohol store run by the Tamil Nadu government). Days turned into months. The affliction was like a disease and alcohol seemed to be his only medicine.
That morning, he was travelling in the public bus when he lost his balance due to the excessive alcohol in his blood and quickly tried to grab the side rod. Instead, he had grabbed a girl's hand and had fallen over her. The girl had called it out as "eve-teasing" and had landed him behind the bars. He did not blame the girl. Rather, he felt ashamed of himself.
Aravind felt a chill through his spine. His anxiety and depression had now turned into deep fear and guilt. His day could not get any worse. He was already so depressed about the break up with his six year girl friend, Priya that morning. She had called off their wedding out of the blue. She refused to explain her decision.
He had a tough time digesting the fact that all the dreams and hopes built on their marriage had all vanished into thin air. It felt like his world had fallen apart. He wondered if the general conviction made against women were all true. Were all women so insensitive? Was it so easy for them to let go of something that means the world to men? Was it that effortless for them cut things off without even reasons? It was a hard blow and he had to take the day off. He could not focus on his work.
It was on the way back home that the harsh reality of loneliness and the bitter feeling of betrayal blind folded him that he could not see the auto-rickshaw that had passed by. In a matter of seconds, before anyone could realize what was happening, it was all over. He had run over and killed a mother and a daughter. The incident was put to rest as the charges were dropped calling it an "accident". But Aravind had to live with the guilt for the rest of his life. He could never forget the despair he spotted in the man's face for he had lost his mother and sister tragically. Maarimuthu looked like a walking corpse. He looked like he had no meaning to live, anymore.
Priya had been always happy with her life, career, family, relationship. Everything seemed to be going smooth. She was going to marry Aravind, the love of her life. She was floating in euphoria. They had been family friends and neighbours for more than a decade. They had become friends when Aravind had lent her a box of water colours when they were ten. Ever since, they had become inseperable. As they reached puberty, it slowly blossomed into something beautiful and something beyond friendship. They were now ready to get married. But, suddenly something had happened that tore Priya apart. Priya's sister Shwetha had revealed her darkest secret to Priya which pushed her to make the hardest decision. She did not want to hurt or punish her sister by marrying Aravind.
Aravind's elder brother Ashwin was eight years older than Shwetha. Since their families were closely allied, Ashwin was often asked to baby sit Shwetha. Ashwin was a perverted boy going through adolescence and had started harrassing Shwetha. She did not like it, yet feared to reveal it to her family as Ashwin had threatened her. This continued for years until one day he took it to the next level.
He revealed his genitals to her and asked her to do something dirty. Shwetha was ten and was terrified that she ran away and never went back to their home. That was something that had been killing her for ages and kept rapidly building inside her and finally turned into a phobia. She never had a boyfriend in her life because she was frightened of intimacy with boys. She never had any male friends. She wished she lived in a world where there were no men. She hated men. She hated them so much that she was unforgiving when it came down to anything about them.
She despised men so much that in the morning when a drunkard had accidentally grabbed her hand she filed a complaint against him in the police station. Even when his friends appeared in the police station and testified that he was not a man of such character and that it was an accident, she was reluctant to take it back.