My happy familyNothing could be salvaged from this mess Rama tried so hard to call love.
Sitting on a pile of broken china dinnerware, Rama was a mess. The mayhem from earlier in the day replayed in her head like a broken record. There was an eerie calmness in the hallway; the only audible sound was her heavy breath. Her face felt numb, and the tears that kept trickling made her nauseous.
After a few deep breaths, Rama finally gathered the courage to get back up; the tingling in her feet from the prolonged sitting revolted against her. She examined the scene around her: the living room was in complete chaos.
After a thorough investigation of the mess before her, she started cleaning the room. Just as she angled her feet a little to bend over, a tiny piece of ceramic found its way into her bare sole. With shaky hands, she gently removed the shard from her skin. A lean stream of red blood came gushing out. The bright red mark it traced on its way down somehow reminded her of her wedding day.
What a jolly day it had been. Apart from the obvious excitement of marrying the love of her life, it was a special day because, for the first time in decades, her entire family had set aside their differences and gathered together. In those ecstatic moments, she had wondered if she would ever be as happy as she had been then.
Looking back, every happy memory of then now felt like a dream. It almost seemed as if she had manifested her fears into reality.
As Rama began gathering the shattered pieces, she tried laying down a few next to one another. Once a few of them fit together, an impression of engraved letters formed on their back. It read: RaMan—Rama and Aman melded together. A flashback of those exact letters written on her palm in brown henna now filled her thoughts and how its dark cast was almost naturally attributed to her sweetheart’s profound love and how easily she had taken it all to be true. More so, how it had been true for the first few years before things started going downhill.
Now, almost a decade later, it felt as though she didn’t recognise Aman at all. The man who mercilessly shoved her and threw plates at her this morning wasn’t the man she had married. He had the same face, the same dark brown almond eyes, and the same slight crooked smile that gave her butterflies—and still did. His appearance was, however, the only semblance of his past self now.
It almost felt like she woke up to a different man every day. Once filled with joyous laughter, their household was now haunted by echoes of slamming doors, crashing cutleries and terrified screams. Aman was unpredictable—one day, he would see nothing but red and go on a rampage, and the next day, he would sing to her, gently stroking her hands filled with scars of his doing, as if trying to make up for the mess he’d made of her.
Aman was unpredictable, but one thing he would do for sure was to run his magic on Rama with a few sweet words, making her forget everything that had happened. The days formed a cycle—each new episode of abuse brought with it an apology and promise to change, and at the centre of the cycle sat Rama, questioning her own sanity.
Rama would blame herself at times, trying to make sense of his abusive behaviour.
He is just in a bad mood.
Maybe it is all my fault.
He does love me; it’s just his temper.
She would console herself with words she knew were only half true. And in such moments, she would wait—for things to change and get better.
Today, however, was different. Neither did she feel at fault, nor could she attribute Aman’s wrongdoings to anything but his own shortcomings. Instead, she felt rage boiling within her, rising with every passing second. This morning, he wasn’t throwing objects around like usual. Rama knew he had meant to harm her. The intent in his eyes was clear as day. Had the plates landed where they were supposed to, Rama would have been lying on a hospital bed right now.
This realisation hit her like a truck. After her epiphany, nothing felt worth fighting for anymore. She had loved him for ten long and arduous years. Ten years when he promised he could change. Ten years of ups and down spent together. Nothing was worth fighting for anymore. Nothing could be salvaged from this mess she tried so hard to call love.
The only thing that made sense to her now was this: She deserved a better life, even if that meant leaving him.
Just then, she heard someone knock at the front door.
Rama immediately looked at the wall clock in front of her.
Only then did Rama realise that she had left her little daughter of five stranded in the freezing cold. Taking a quick leap, Rama soon found herself out of the mess. But before she got hold of the door-knob, her eyes caught the sight of the woman in the mirror. Her eyes well up with tears as she saw herself in the dishevelled figure staring right back at her.
She heard Tara pounding on the door rather impatiently now.
Rama quickly fixed her hair and clothes and rehearsed a smile.
She didn’t need to; the sight of her little one was enough to kindle joy on her otherwise gloomy face.
With a long sigh, Tara burst through the open door and headed straight to the couch.
No hugs. No kisses.
After digging through her notebooks with great content, Tara pulled out a folded piece of paper and rushed to her mother, who was still at the door.
With a shy smile, she handed out the object to Rama. Puzzled, Rama slowly unfurled the piece of paper. Staring back at her was three human-like figures holding hands with smiles as wide as the curvature of their round faces could go. Scribbled below them were the words- ‘My happy family’.
Afraid to miss a reaction if she blinked, little Tara looked attentively at her mother, eagerly waiting for a reaction. But no words escaped Rama’s still mouth. Instead, with her head bent down, she kept staring at the drawing. Suddenly, her lips began to quiver, and quiet sniffles filled the hallway. It was only when little wet spots started forming on her artwork that Tara realised that her mother was crying.
Scared to have offended her mother, Tara asked in a shaking voice, “Do you not like it?”
“Nooo, honey. It’s beautiful. In fact, it’s the most beautiful piece of drawing I have ever seen. Mommy is just a little stressed. But mommy loves it. Okay? And I love you. I love you so much.”
Rama took Tara tightly into her arms.
“I love you too, mommy”, whispered Tara, enveloped in her mother’s warm embrace, still trying to comprehend what was going on.
As Rama’s hold started to loosen, Tara, not knowing how to deal with the situation at hand, ran to her room.
She had never seen her mother like this.
As she headed to her room, she noticed the mess in the living room.
“Oh… So you are crying because you dropped the plates. That’s it, right? Don’t worry, mommy. I’ll tell daddy I broke them. And I will ask him to bring new ones. Pink ones. With flowers and glitters. Okay?”
Rama looked at her with a weary smile.
As Tara left the scene, Rama was left alone with her thoughts. A steady stream of tears flowed down her cheeks. Chewing at her lower lip, she droped to the floor.
My happy family
The words kept flashing before her eyes.
Eventually, Rama managed to slowly get up and reach for the drawer in the TV table. She pulled out a tube of super glue and found her way back to where she had assembled the broken ceramic earlier. With great care, she glued them back into place.
As the pieces slowly formed a whole, they started to look more and more like their past self. Yet, if you paid close attention, you could see they’d been forced back together.
Rama couldn’t help but notice the parallels she shared with these plates.
Putting away the glued plates, now unfit for eating, she thought to herself—These can still make place for the new ones; those are the ones I ought to take care of.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her daughter.