Arshi’s short story is a brilliant depiction of what happens when one keeps their anger buried inside for a long.
The man who tastes like betel leaves—that’s all, Kulsum’s husband was to her. A set of yellow teeth and orange tongue from crunching green betel and areca nuts all day. Her whole body cringed with disgust at its thought and touch. The feel of his fat fingers digging into her delicate wrists. His firm grip over her jaws. And there it was again, the taste of betel leaves. This passive inhalation of the leaves had become a monotonous part of Kulsum’s conjugal life. She would consume its flavour during the night and spend her days taking care of her disabled mother-in-law. She had been married to this man, twice her age, for a year now. She was the first of four daughters of her father, while he was a widower, with more money than her father.
Two weeks shy of Eid Ul Adha, there was a sudden bend in the monotonousness of Kulsum’s routine. The morning when a poor farmer and his family wailed over the corpse of a bull, they had raised to sell at the cow hut. Kulsum stepped outside her home, and her eyes immediately went to the blood that trickled on the streets, almost mimicking the course of a river. There were massive bite marks around the bull’s neck. This was surely the work of a beast.