Somesh is a rich man. He is married with three adolescent children. He is well off and has an ever-expanding business. He runs hostels. Girls’ hostels...
Somesh has eight of them; he also has a boys’ hostel which is run without his interference. The rooms in his hostels are not just diminutive in size but these diminutive rooms have been further compartmentalised by board partitions. All that is left is a space of 6 feet by 3 feet -- a prison cell may seem bigger, it’s not even enough for a single person to move around in comfortably. The room is further stuffed with a bed, a fridge, a cupboard and a study table. A dim bulb is the only source of light in a suffocating, windowless room.
Somesh runs these hostels not with the strictness of a warden or the love of a father, but rather with the slyness of a wolf. His ‘headquarters’ are on the first floor and his reign spreads to the two storeys above. Just a year back, he had constructed a single room just next to a four seater girls’ room and had started spending his nights there much to the horror of these poor girls.
His personality did little to reassure them, neither was the rumour around the hostel helpful... He was a huge man with a thick raven black moustache. He wore heavy gold chains around his short neck and another around his bloated wrist. He was often drunk and angry. When he was home there would be loud sounds of glasses being broken and utensils thrown. The next morning when his wife came out for the morning prayer she would be smiling, showering undue love on the tenants, but her face and body all bruised and battered told another story.
All this was just heard of until one day…
All the tenants were outside because of a power cut. Somesh was angry, struggling to walk -- he was definitely drunk. His wife Madhvi went to call him to check the fuse. But his response shocked us all. He slammed the door on her face. The door came hurtling back. He became agitated to see her still standing there. He stepped out and pushed her, roughly, outside and she banged her head against the wall. He came out, stood facing her, panting, raised his hand and placed it on her shoulder. We could see the force with which he slapped her across her face; her lip split, blood dripped and she cringed. It was disgusting to see the kids doing nothing to save their mother. Two of us stepped forward to intervene but were stopped midway by certain elderly occupants. They whispered, “Don’t fall into this mess. She has become accustomed to it. She won’t stand up against him. He has political connections. He uses brutal force to crush those who stand in his way. The local police are on his pay rolls.”
We stopped dead in our tracks. We were just students after all, away from home and parents... Though we knew it was wrong and indeed we wanted to help the lady, she had to stretch her hand and ask for help first. We did not want to be the next victims of the shadow that lingered by the window in the darkness of the night.
A question to the readers is -- how do we help people who do not want to be helped?
-- Cherry Agarwal describes herself as "a spirited writer from Jamshedpur... basically my work is fiction based but when certain real life events give me goose bumps they end up in "ink on paper".." She was part of a writing workshop conducted in August 2011 by Annie Zaidi for Open Space.