The Outcast - A short story by Kay S

The Outcast

“As the light begins to intensify, so does my misery, and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong.” ― Tabitha Suzuma, Forbidden

The hurt and misery within seems to consume me today as I look out of the bay window of my bedroom.  The tears roll down uncontrollably as though a dam of control was shattered into smithereens. It is pretty late in the evening.  The darkness of the night beckons me to step outside into the balcony as my memories pulled at the strings of my soul.  “Why does this always happen with me?  Why do I have to feel this way?  Why, God, why?”  There are days like this when I feel my life is not worth living anymore and that it is time to put an end to my misery.  I have done enough and taken care to provide for the children, they will be richer with me dead than alive.  The people who are friends and my relatives will no longer be ashamed of who I am, nobody will be threatened by my existence anymore, nobody has to admonish me for calling when they are with family or friends.  I can just die without being missed like a nobody in this world, that’s okay or is it?   The justice of the universe did not make any sense neither did the so-called wisdom of the past today as I think of the happenings of these past few years.

Let me say it out aloud for the Universe to hear.  Yes! I am a motherless daughter from 16, a survivor of rape, a modern woman with a broad outlook, a successful career woman, a serial entrepreneur, and by the way, the forbidden one, a divorcee too.  Yes, you heard me right! “The Forbidden One, an Outcast” in this so-called hypocritical society filled with the double-standards that would put any standard to shame.  I look up at the clear blue sky with the twinkling stars and ask them, “Why am I treated like the forbidden one, an outcast that one is ashamed to be associated with? How is it my fault that life dealt a bad set of cards to me?  They are silent as though the cat got their tongues.  The gusty wind howls in my ear as though mourning for my lost soul.  The stars seem to know how I feel tonight, somber, melancholic, lonely, and devastated.  I feel like talking to someone, I look up to the sky and go off on a monologue.  The vast sky, the stars above, the blowing wind, the darkness, and the moon are my companions today.

Let me tell you a story of a young girl.  She was a second born child to her parents, an apple of everyone’s eyes, full of life and energy, and a complete packet of smiles. She was so cheerful that the entire atmosphere would transform when she entered a place.  She turned an adult overnight at 15 when her mom was on her deathbed. Having moved to the US to save her mother from cancer at the behest of a father who had a life with his second wife there, the family tried to save her mom with no luck.  Losing her mom at 17, she learnt to manage herself and her siblings, made very difficult choices and moved on in life.  As a 24-year-old young girl, a catastrophe dawned upon her in the form of rape and she again had to make a choice to move on with the burden in her heart knowing that it would consume her soul.  But then, sometimes the only choice you are left with is to be strong and she made that choice for her siblings, her family, and her future.  Successfully, she maneuvered through her youth, many a times not sleeping to avoid the nightmares that threatened to devour her, and finally returned back from the United States at the age of 28 after achieving all that she could, completing her responsibilities to her siblings, having become an entrepreneur at the age of 27.  It was never an easy journey, but that is the journey she carved for herself irrespective of what got thrown at her.

The wind howled louder and blew strongly tangling my hair and blowing it across my face as though trying to tell me that it understood how I felt today and to console that young girl within me who still hurt on nights like these.  Yes, this was my story to tell and I want to tell the Universe today, something I must have done many years ago.  It has been a very difficult journey but a memorable one indeed.  But, why am I saying all these things today of all days?  Because I feel very lonely and very hurt today.  The stars twinkle at me trying to make me smile.  The moon plays truant behind the clouds as though it doesn’t want to see my miserable face.  The crickets busily chatter away busily at the swamp nearby as though gossiping about the happenings of a day.  I hear the faint barking of the street dogs somewhere far away, the faint sound of vehicles moving on the road seems muffled as I hear the Azaan (the call for prayer) at the nearby mosque.  The sting of a bloodthirsty mosquito suddenly brings me back to reality and the story I was narrating as the stars seemed closer to me as though eager to hear more.  Smiling away at my celestial companions, I continued.

The young girl now an attractive young woman of 28 comes back to India hoping to a better life, one that is surrounded by the only family she has, a brother, sister and a few cousins yearning for a happier continuation to what seemed like a painful story. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade they say but nobody ever told her what would you do when life continuously gives you only lemons.  She knew what to do though, she decided to make lemon pickles.  It is now 23 years past her return and her journey has been the toughest one.  Between successful ventures in business, a disastrous marriage that left her broke on the street overnight with two children, and starting her life again, she thought life had come around a complete 360 degrees.  However, to her chagrin, her divorce made her a pariah, an outcast, a forbidden woman looked at as if she was a disgusting worm in the society.  The same friends and relatives who welcomed her with open arms when she returned from the US started treating her like a disease to avoid.  Their parents threw insults at her warning their sons and daughters to not have her for a friend as their lives could be affected if they are associated with a “divorcee.”  Friends started feeling ashamed and uncomfortable being seen with her in public lest they get spoken about by others and they get a bad reputation.  Every time she called, she was told, “I cannot talk now, my friends are around.”  She wondered then if she was something to be ashamed of.  She was also a friend.  Why couldn’t they talk to her if their other friends were around.  The married ones started pretending as though she is the other woman in their lives, rebuking her for calling when they were home saying, “Don’t call when I am home, yaar.  My wife will mistake me.”  She wondered why this kept happening when she was also a good friend just like anyone else for a long time.  Devastated, she would come home and cry her heart out.

All that is happening again.  I feel it is the guilt of the man which makes him react like he does with me; if only he could consider me a friend like any other male friend and just speak normally when i call or maybe just realize I am just a human being like everyone.  Why was it so important that I am a particular gender when they wouldn't mete out the same treatment to a male friend?  I have never treated a male friend who is a divorcee when I was married the way I get treated.  Anyway, all these are thoughts for another day.  It’s getting colder on the balcony and I can feel the wind blowing harder.  It must have dropped quite a few degrees while I am narrating the story to the Universe.  As I look at my watch, it is close to 10:30 p.m. and it’s time for dinner.  As I look up to the sky again, devastated with all the thoughts in my head, I wonder more and more if this tag of an outcast will ever leave.  More than ever now I contemplate as I look down from the balcony and wonder should I give up on my life or just continue to hold my head high feeling proud of all the choices I made.  I have lived life bravely fighting all my battles alone and I do not think I am someone anybody should be ashamed of.  I am just a divorcee, a single mother of two beautiful children, and if that makes me an outcast, then so shall it be.  Maybe it’s all the COVID-19 pandemic situation getting the better of me.

Smiling at my silly thoughts, I decide to go in for dinner and sign off for the night shaking off my depression for the time being.  I think of the man who has captured my heart, mind, body and soul and wish life was easier without the lemons at least for once.  My heart smiles in sarcasm as I am reminded of something I read written by Tabitha Suzuma in her book, Forbidden - “Out of the millions and millions of people that inhabit this planet, he is one of the tiny few I can never have.” She could not have expressed my feelings any more clearly than this.  I look back at the blue sky with twinkling stars who seem to be shedding a few tears for that young girl and the sorrow in my heart.  The crickets have silenced and seem to have gone to sleep.  The lights in the apartments far away have dwindled to very few but for some of the night owls like me.  The rest of the world has gone into the land of slumber just like the man who owns my heart somewhere far away.  I take a deep breath trying to control my tears as they threaten to roll again and sigh wishing like Alice in Wonderland that I swim through the realm of unconsciousness and the next morning dawns differently erasing all this pain away to only find me waking up as an accepted one rather than a forbidden one – The Outcast.

Tanhaaiyaan bhi lene lagi hai siskiyaan aaj kal,
Jabse tumhari yaad aane lagi hai mujhe har pal,
Lehrein bhi tham gayi hain jaise unhe khabar hai,
Tumhara ab mujhse milna ek sapna sa lagta hai.


Loneliness has begun to take deep sobs these days,
Since your memory began to haunt each moment of my day
The waves of the ocean have calmed as though they know,
That meeting you now seems more like a dream these days.

A short story by Kay S


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