Azar was cooking rice on a gas stove when her hand accidentally hit the utensil of almost-boiled milk on the adjacent gas stove and it fell down with a loud clang, spilling the thick white liquid all over the floor. She gritted her teeth. Her husband would come storming into the kitchen anytime now. She quickly set about mopping the spilt milk, trying to ignore the scalding burn her right hand had suffered. Her left hand wasn’t her dominant one, so it took her longer than usual. As a result, her husband entered the place before she could finish up.
“Spilt a perfectly good kilo of milk again, have you?” In truth, Azar had never spilt milk before. “Do you know how expensive this is? Of course, you wouldn’t- you laze about in the house all day like a Maharani while I toil in the factory all day. Milk comes so dearly, but still, I buy it to keep you nourished and this is how you repay me?”
“I’m sorry, ji. It won’t happen again,” she said, cowering. She knew what would come next.
“It won’t happen again,” said her husband, imitating her. “But it has, hasn’t it? You’ve wasted my hard-earned money.” He slapped her so hard that her cheeks burnt for another five minutes or so. When he noticed her burnt hand, he slapped it too, making her cry out in pain. Azar tried to blink the tears away, but they kept flowing like the Ganga river. “You dare cry? Well, then cry more,” he pushed her hard against the countertop, making her bang her head loudly on the cupboard above. Then he walked away.
Azar clutched her throbbing head with her left hand and collapsed down on the floor, not bothering the milk seeping into her clothes. She cried silently. How happy she’d been when she hadn’t been married- when she never even saw the kitchen and her mother used to bring her piping hot food in her room! Her father had never hit her mother like that. Sure, they’d had arguments now and then, but they had always been verbal. Azar gathered herself up and walked towards her room, peeping through the keyhole to make sure her husband wasn’t inside. He wasn’t, thankfully. He’d probably gone out. She went inside, locked it and took out the ointment from the medicine drawer. She massaged her hand and her head with it. She felt drowsy, but she dared not sleep. Her husband might come back any moment and nothing angered him more than the sight of his sleeping wife. She wished there were no weekends. Every weekend of hers used to go like that.
Azar was cooking parathas for her husband’s breakfast. She’d tied a bandage around her burn from the day before, so she tried to work as quickly as she could with her recessive hand. Unfortunately, the parathas took a couple of minutes longer despite her best efforts. Already her husband’s shouts could be heard from outside- “What’s taking so long? Are you cooking the parathas or eating them?” She briskly took the plate outside and served it before him. “Sorry, ji. I burnt my right hand yesterday so working with the left took a few minutes longer.”
“All lies and excuses,” he smacked her hard on her arm. “Don’t you know I have to reach early to work? Saheb will fire me if I reach late every day. Who will earn then? You, illiterate bitch?” He slapped her again.
Azar had never talked back to her husband. But today, she wasn’t the old Azar, and she didn’t know how she suddenly got the nerve to do it. For the first time in her life, she slapped her husband back- “I burnt my hand and you were the one who made it worse! If you can’t wait for two minutes, then go get a maid. I’m not your servant, you filthy pig! And now I’m going to the police to get you arrested for domestic violence.Just you wait, you dirty demon.”
Her husband was too stunned to move. Azar walked out of her house. The volcano that had been lying dormant for so many years had finally erupted today.