A father holds up his girl high
turns her around
and makes her fly
He’s her superhero
the one she looks up to
but some fathers are just crude.

Nandini’s father, Mr. Kumar, always put invisible constraints around her. He barely let her socialize and he wanted the highest marks. He slapped her if she misbehaved and put her on house arrest if she revolted. This may not sound unusual to a lot of teenagers reading. We all know parents who claim to care about our future more than us, or label our friends as bad company according to their whims and fancies. All of us have gone through it once or twice. But Nandini? She went through it her whole life.

Nandini loved school. She excelled at extracurricular activities and studies and had a great bunch of friends. Her teachers loved her, and she loved them. Nandini’s best friend was Samarth. He was the sweetest person she knew. He would never hurt a fly. He never raised his voice and was always ready to listen to her. For Nandini, he was an epitome of all that she desired in life.

Nandini and Samarth were inseparable. They spent all their time discussing black and white classic films. Be it The Children’s Hour or Freud’s Passion; Casablanca or The Bicycle Thief- they knew it all, they’d seen it all. Since they spent so much time together, rumors about their relationship spread. Perhaps it were the rumours; Maybe it were his feelings. But a while later, Samarth asked her to be his girlfriend. And then their friendship switched to a romance.

Nandini grew adventurous and rebellious. She started scoring less. Her father got angrier and angrier. But he was sure that with his upbringing, Nandini would never do anything to defy her parents. While he lived in oblivion, Nandini was living her dream. It was Samarth and Nandini against the world, and they believed that nothing could come in their way. How could it? After all, their love was strong. So, very, strong.

At first, they just talked. Then, they shared secrets and held hands. Eventually, they started kissing. Their love grew into an all-consuming passion for each other. Nandini wasn’t scared of anything anymore. After they’d been together for six months, she invited to him to her house. And so, at night, he climbed up her window like a typical chick flick and they did the unthinkable.

We often think our parents don’t know us. But the truth is that the people who’ve brought us up can look right through us. They can sense a change in our behavior more than we can. We should never underestimate our parents. Never.

That night, Samarth forgot to take his shoes back with him. When Nandini came back from school, the worst day of her life began.

‘Whose shoes are these Nandini?
They’re not mine, not yours, nor your mother’s.’
‘I don’t know father. I haven’t seen them before in my life.’
‘Don’t play dumb, young lady. Tell me about your visitor.’
‘No visitor, father, I swear.’

He struck her hard. So hard, that her cheek started bleeding. She staggered but he firmly held her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall. Her fear was palpable.

She cribbed, she cried but
nothing could save her life
with the remains of her memory
her life should suffice

Oh cruel soul, leave her be
her love is true,
can’t you see?
Her hate will grow
Withdraw while you can
come on Mr. Kumar, be a man!

‘I’ll ask this question one last time Nandini. Whose shoes are these?’
‘My friend must’ve forgotten them, father.’
‘Who is this friend Nandini?’
‘Tell me Nandini. I won’t rest until I find this boy. And believe me, I will not let him live.’

But Mr. Kumar already knew the answer. It was impossible for him to believe his little innocent baby could ever do such a thing. But she had, and she must be punished.

After the terrifying struggle between the father and the daughter, Mr. Kumar left for the bar to drink his sorrows away. If only he could rationalize with himself and his daughter. If only he could understand.

Nandini spent some time covering her marks with makeup and then begged her mother to let her say her last goodbye to Samarth. Her mother felt powerless before her pleadings and let her go.

‘Samarth, we’re over. My parents know.’
‘What? You’re breaking up with me?’
‘I’m sorry, but I have to. My father will kill me and he will kill you.’
‘You can’t be serious’

He held her hand firmly.

‘You’re hurting me Samarth!’
‘I won’t let you go away so easily. Explain yourself!’
‘I already have! Please let me go.’

She left without a word, leaving Samarth with his thoughts. She thought he might understand, but he didn’t. There were so many thoughts running in his mind. Maybe the sex scared her and she wanted to withdraw. Maybe she was tired of his company. Maybe she had found another guy.

Yes, Samarth thought she was using her dad as an excuse, and he was angry. He couldn’t let her throw their relationship away. So he climbed up her window one last time, to make her understand exactly why she should stay. If only he understood why she couldn’t.

The door creaked open,
His giant shadow looming over her petite figure
5 ‘11’’ - tall, dark and handsome
every girl’s fairy tale but hers.

He whispered in her ear,
Nandini, I love you
Every girl dreams of a grand display of love
Every girl’s fairy tale but Nandini’s

But this fairy tale took a different turn
He didn’t wait for a reply
He just went on
Nandini kiss me, hold me
But Nandini shall not commit any such blasphemy

So he pushed her, he shoved her
He hit her, he hurt her
the struggle was from both sides
but in the end, he conquered

‘Now tell me Nandini. Do you love me? Am I the right guy for you?’ On her knees, with a black eye, she nodded kneeling before him.

He finally tamed his shrew
He assumed control of her life
Now that he held their destiny
it was nobody’s fairy tale,
but Nandini’s.

Here it is:
The harsh reality
What we defined as love
Became an overbearing companion
What we defined as friendship
Became an abusive relationship
This is just another teenager
Living through her struggle
Another soul with which people won’t mingle
A catastrophe of sorts
but a scar- lifelong
two men owned her life
two men hurt her till she couldn’t survive

That night Nandini in all her helplessness found refuge in her mother’s arms. But when her mother’s grip loosened a bit, Nandini stirred awake. She went through the cabinet, found some sleeping pills. And that night was the last night Nandini ever lived.

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