We Are Aware: Stop Domestic Violence
by Fiza Pathan
Calvin was reading the Times of India in his sitting room when he heard the doorbell ring. Folding the paper and keeping it aside, Calvin sauntered to the door, peeped through the keyhole and beamed. On the other side of the door was his old school friend Jonathan with a can of coke in his hand. Calvin opened the door and the two men hugged each other after which they sat down in the sitting room. Jonathan kept on drinking his coke while he narrated to Calvin the happenings at his work place in Mahim. Calvin listened patiently but his hands were longing to hold and get back to his newspaper, especially the sports section.
Just then, a sound of broken glass was heard. Jonathan stopped in mid sentence while Calvin seemed unconcerned. The sound of the broken glass was followed by the sounds of a woman screaming and a man gurgling abuses after abuses. Jonathan dropped his can of coke on the floor in fear.
“What the hell is that?” asked the perplexed Jonathan.
Calvin made a wry face, picked up his newspaper and pretended to concentrate on the contents of the paper.
Jonathan stared at Calvin in terror with his eyebrows raised. It seemed as if the sounds were coming from the flat next door. Jonathan to his shock heard more glasses breaking, a voice of a lady pleading in Marathi and a man upturning the furniture in the flat. Jonathan turned to look at Calvin and gazed at him angrily seeing that his friend was still scanning the sports pages of his newspaper.
The screams of the woman next door started getting louder. Jonathan picked up his can of coke and poured some of the fizzy liquid on Calvin’s face to get his attention.
“What the hell!” Calvin exclaimed, “Why did you have to pour your drink on me?”
“Can’t you see someone is in trouble next door,” yelled Jonathan, “Get up from your stupid sofa; we have got to save her.”
To Jonathan’s surprise Calvin laughed in a hushed manner.
“Come on Jonathan get real…this is their daily routine…”
“Whose daily routine?” asked Jonathan.
“Why…the family next door. It is like this, Mr. Telang after office goes to the pub to have a drink or two; he then comes back home fully intoxicated and starts acting psycho like throwing stuff at her, breaking the cutlery, whipping her, abusing her; Mrs. Telang shrieks and shouts but after a spell the whole situation ends. The idiot Mr. Telang goes to bed and poor dear old duty bound house wife Mrs. Telang cleans the mess in the house along with her scars and bruises…simple.”
Another piece of glass broke. The man next door had now started to hit the woman with something hard and her shrieks rattled Jonathan’s bony frame. Jonathan looked sternly at Calvin and said,
“Dude, this is domestic violence. We have to stop that guy.”
“Dude”, said Calvin, “It is their private matter…they do this all the time. Neither does Mrs. Telang complain nor do the other neighbours. So why should we interfere?”
Calvin wiped the coke stains of his face and went back to reading his newspaper. Jonathan focussed his ears on what was happening next door. In a moment or two it seemed like a table had overturned and Jonathan could hear the woman being kicked repeatedly…Calvin indifferently turned a page.
Jonathan rose up from his end of the sofa, yanked open Calvin’s door and started knocking the door of the Telang’s residence. Immediately the screaming and shouting stopped…Calvin shook his head in a frustrated manner as he watched Jonathan with an ashen grey face enter the room once again closing the door behind him.
The neighbouring flat was silent…Calvin put his newspaper down on the glass tea table and said,
“How did you make them stop?”
Jonathan stared at the carpeted floor his lips quivering in horror.
“Hey man I asked you how did you manage to stop them?”
Jonathan looked up at Calvin, “The room was in shambles; the man was kicking the woman in her private spot and that made her bleed…the dinner table was overturned upon her and her yellow sari was torn…I…I just asked them to keep quiet or I would inform the police and so he…they stopped and I came…came back here.’
Calvin ran his hand uncomfortably through his jet black hair. He then looked at Jonathan in the eye and said,
“You know they are going to do that again tomorrow so why even bother?”
Jonathan picked up his can of coke, took a huge chug of it and placed it on the glass tea table. The sound of broken glass being swept could be heard from the neighbouring flat. Jonathan said,
“Domestic violence is not a family matter…it is a social matter. Maybe I have not acted like some social activist and put that drunkard in jail but I did something that I guess no one in this building has ever done, not even you…”
Calvin raised his eyebrows before he said, “Which is…?”
Jonathan picked up the folded newspaper on the glass tea table. He rolled it up in his left hand saying,
“I made them aware that I knew what was going on is not right…awareness…that is all it takes. It is the first step to every social revolution; be it a nation-wide revolution or your regular family next door.”
Copyright © 2015 Fiza Pathan
We Are Aware: Stop Domestic Violence