I vividly remember my dream from that night. I was running away with a boy from our colony and hiding underneath a staircase. There was strange luminous darkness around us when he held my hand which was accompanied by a weird sensation in my stomach I wanted to pee. I could feel my cheeks acquire a shade of crimson, that only comes after an uncle pulls at them harshly. I remember feeling the confusion caused by my bladder and my heart. I wanted to pee and my stomach was comically bloating up, until there was a blast and it caved in. I woke up with a start to that noise, thanking my stars I didn’t pee in front of my crush. But a lyrical thudding continued, it was the end of December in Banaras and our room was extremely dark. I didn’t dare to step out of my warm bed. The thudding continued, I wanted to call out my mother’s name, who was sleeping on the adjacent bed, but something withheld me from doing that.
Our family had come on a holiday to Banaras, a holy city where you could wash off all your sins and start afresh. A place for deep cleaning of the soul. Our family barely took any holidays, my father had recently left the army to prepare for his civil services exam. My mother, the sole earning member, had to take care of him and his family of five brothers. Even though she was the one making money, she would hand over her entire salary to my father, to assure him about his place in our lives. My mother was his agent in a man’s world, who had no agency over her own life.