Previously on Leave Me Alone
Ajay and Sasha go to Sasha’s home to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. Ajay sees portrait of a woman on red sari who looks like Sasha. Ajay is attacked by a woman on red sari and he flees. He goes to a police station and tells what had happened. Sasha wakes up on a cold street and returns back to her house, where police officers tell her to go with them. She is reluctant at first first but agrees later. At the police station, she faints.
Let’s look what happens to her and what truth Ajay discovers in this chapter.
The men at the police station acted quickly. Within minutes, Sasha was taken into the hospital, which she had exited some hours as a nurse. Ajay was devastated. He did not understand what was going on. Sitting on a chair outside the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, Ajay began contemplating his relationship with Sasha. He realized that he did not know much about her. He had never asked her about her family and had wrongly believed that they were alive. Before Sasha had arrived at the police station, Dr. Shrestha had told him about her troubled childhood. He had also told that Sasha’s mother had died long ago. ‘Who was the woman who attacked me then? Was she Sasha’s mother? Or was she Sasha herself?’ Dr. Shrestha said she was Sasha but Ajay could not believe him. So, Dr. Shrestha gave his address and said, “Come to my house tomorrow at 8 o’clock in the morning. You will meet someone who will confirm my story.”
That night Ajay spent on the cold chair outside the ICU sometimes dozing, sometimes staring at the wall in front of him and sometimes looking at his unconscious girlfriend through the glass. When the darkness dissolved into the eastern lights, he talked with Rosa, whose shift had just ended. She told, “I had never thought I would see Sasha in such serious condition. I can’t still believe she is in coma. She was so lively last night.”
“Did you know about her problems?” Ajay interrogated as they walked out of the hospital.
“Everyone here knows that she had a split personality,” Rosa answered. “After long private sessions, Dr. Shrestha treated her. She got her nursing license after the treatment. Now that the disorder seems to have resurfaced, everyone is going to blame him. He is devastated.”
“I know,” Ajay said. “He is not happy with what has happened. He believes he made some mistake. The doctor thinks that if he had been a little more careful, Sasha would not have suffered the trauma.”
“It’s obvious he would think that way. He is her guardian,” Rosa remarked. They had already reached the bus stop on the street. Rosa bade farewell and went away. Ajay wondered, ‘Did she say Dr. Shrestha is Sasha’s guardian? He didn’t tell me that before. Why?’
He immediately resolved, ‘I need to ask the doctor.’
Ajay unfolded a small piece of paper in which the doctor had written his address. It was not far from where he was. Though he felt hungry- he had not eaten anything since lunch the previous day- Ajay decided to walk.
He reached Dr. Shrestha’s place in about fifteen minutes. He was not stopped at the gate. The doctor must have told the gatekeeper he was coming. He himself was waiting for Ajay in the garden. Beside him was a dark wrinkled woman. She smiled slightly at him. When Ajay sat on a chair opposite them, the doctor offered him tea and some slices of fruitcake. Ajay happily savoured them.
As they ate, Dr. Shrestha said, “Ajay, this is Parmila. She worked as a maid at Sasha’s from the time Sasha was born. Parmila knows their story better than I do.”
There was a silence for a while. Ajay asked, “Do you still work there?”
“No,” Parmila replied in a hoarse voice. “I stopped working there three years ago, after Sasha joined nursing.”
“Is it true that Sasha’s parents passed away while she was about six years old?”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“But I saw her mother last night,” Ajay exclaimed in disbelief.
“You can’t have seen Reshma,” Parmila said.
“The woman you saw was Sasha, not her mother,” Dr. Shrestha. “Tell him all you know, Parmila.”
Parmila nodded and began, “She was a beautiful child. She laughed a lot, played a lot. She wanted everything to be perfect even at a small age. She never liked playing with broken toys. After she played she used to keep them in their exact places. She was so sensitive that she used to cry whenever someone spoke to her loudly. She had lot of friends even at a small age.
“Sasha’s father had inherited a lot of land, from which he began a business of his own. Her mother, Reshma, worked at a bank on a good salary,” Parmila sighed and continued, “But some days after Sasha’s sixth birthday, fortune began to disfavour them. Her father’s business collapsed. He had taken up a loan from the bank where Reshma worked. The house had been mortgaged. The bank sold it when they could not pay the debt. The family who bought the house through bidding were relatives of the bank manager.
“Some months later, I heard a rumour that the manager of the same bank obtained that house from his relatives. Sasha’s father started blaming his wife for their misfortune. He said that she could have stopped the sale by talking to the management. But he never considered he had invested wrongly. He solely blamed upon Reshma for his failure. They moved into a small house. They had to pay rents and could not afford keeping me on the work. I had to leave.
“Some weeks later, Sasha’s mother came to my house. She looked as if she had slept for days. She was not as bright as she used to be. She sat beside me and said, “My husband has changed. He does not support me. He is not happy that I am still working at the bank that auctioned our house. I submitted resignation letter twice but they don’t approve it. He does not believe anything I say. We have been quarrelling a lot lately. It is affecting Sasha. He wants to send Sasha to a hostel. She is too young to be sent to a hostel. I want your help, Parmila.”
““Okay, I understand your problem. I’ll take care of the child,” I said, “You don’t need to pay me as long as you are in financial problem.”
“Sasha’s mother thanked me. She looked a little brighter by the time she left my place. I looked after Sasha in the mornings and evenings, while working at other places for money.
“Sasha was really affected by the fights her parents had. She was gloomy. She did not talk to anyone. Her grades had fallen. I did my best to keep her happy. I talked and laughed with her. I helped her in whatever I could. Whenever her parents fought, I took her to my house in her sleep. But I feared, even at that time, that I had not been able to stop the psychological change the child was going through.
“The family’s fortune changed all of a sudden. Reshma got a promotion and her husband discovered a link to get hold of his business again. A few months passed in peace until one evening Sasha’s mother said they were shifting. “Where,” I asked.
““Back to the house we left some months ago,” she said. I could not believe my ears. I asked her again and she replied the same. That was the evening, I saw little Sasha happy in a long time.
“No one asked Reshma how she got the house back. Her husband did not look happy, though. I heard murmurs among the women that Reshma had got the house back because of her illicit relationship with the bank manager. Her husband might have thought the same but did not say anything. He also stopped fighting with his wife and was giving time to Sasha whenever he could.
“Reshma, on the other hand, was not giving time to her daughter at all. She had changed. She usually came home late at night, drunk. So much that she could not stand upright. The bank manager would bring her up to the door sometimes. I knew her husband was angry. He was like a dormant volcano, ready to explode anytime. I feared the destruction it would bring.
“One evening, he burst up. Reshma was drunk as usual. He could bear it no more. He shouted out, “What’s wrong with you, Reshma? Why do you come home drunk every night?”
““There is no use telling you. You’re not going to believe me,” she replied angrily.
““Why don’t you tell me what exactly has happened to you?”
““You know everything,” Reshma replied in a low voice this time. “Why do you want to hear it from me?”
““What? I don’t know anything. How would I?”
“I could not hear what Reshma said but her husband was terribly enraged. He slapped her hard and yelled, “I didn’t know you could fall that low. Didn’t you even think of me and Sasha?”
““I had no choice,” Reshma said, crying. Her husband did not even look her. From the corner I was standing, I saw Sasha looking at her father. I was scared. She had seen her parents’ fight.
“The next morning, I witnessed the most tragic incident of life. Sasha’s mother was found dead in her room. Her face had become blue. A small bottle of poison lay beside her. The police discovered a note inside her diary in which she had written that the manager of the bank where she worked had molested her several times. The note also said that he had offered the house in return. Reshma had to accept everything he did because he had threatened to harm her family.
“The police caught the bank manager but his lawyer saved him from imprisonment. They even proved that Reshma was mad and that her note was not trustworthy. A few weeks later, the bank manger suddenly disappeared and has not been seen again. God punished him for this deed.”
There was a long silence at the table. “What happened to Sasha’s father?” Ajay asked slowly.
“Oh,” Parmila said, “He fell down the stairs and died. In his will he had wanted Dr. Shrestha to become Sasha’s guardian. I kept working at their house. Dr. Shrestha provided me wages until I decided to leave work due to my age two years ago.”