At least I don't cry anymore

Updated: Jun 27

Story by Parth

My family was always the kind you see in movies, wearing bright crisp clothes, running happily along the shore. You know, a happy content family! But then nothing lasts forever, does it?

I can’t vividly recall when the disapprovals turned into arguments, bickering turned into gruesome fights and verbal abuse. But what I remember is seeing my family (four of us) fall apart and I couldn't do anything. But what possibly could I have done? I was a young and jovial boy back then, spending hours watching Disney, chewing Eclairs, and being cute.

My mom and dad used to fight over the slightest of things and those fights included the smashing of mugs, screaming, cursing, swearing to suicide, and in worst cases hitting each other.

I was the youngest of two, my brother never really cared much, so I was left all by myself. I never tried sharing those terrible nights with my friends because I was just too ashamed. One vivid memory of those days includes me going early to bed (around 8:30) closing my eyes and praying – oh god, please aaj ladai nah ho (oh god, please let there be no fight today) until I rested to sleep. But who cared enough to listen to me?

Amongst many fights, there is one that still resides in my head, haunting me on unexpected days making an already pathetic day miserable. It was a September night, raining cats and dogs, I was lying on my bed praying while my brother next to me fast asleep. My dad came late that night and on asking his whereabouts he screamed at my mother. What they said I could neither hear nor comprehend, but the screams could be easily heard from a distance. The argument lasted for a long time, ranging from smashing cups, banging of doors, and me crying, shivering while hoping for all this to end.

Those were days when school got over around 2 in the afternoon. We used to commute by van and every time the van used to drive down my home lane, all I would pray was to not hear murmurs and abuses that night. If mom sounded calm that meant I don’t have to sleep early, lying up late watching cartoons with a calmer frame of mind. Even the slightest shift in her tone (which I can always detect readily) meant breaking of China and a disastrous sleep.

Somewhere in the mid of 2014, the fights became so loud that neighbours ended up in the middle of the night, banging at our doors and inevitably intervening in a not so familial matter. Once when one of my cousins nearly broke my parent's bedroom door, what I witnessed shook me in concerned alarming ways- My mom weeping, with a leather belt around her neck and my dad screaming from the other corner of the room.

Things continued. But after 2 years – somewhere around 2016- my parents finally separated, not divorced, just my dad moving out. They continued fighting bitterly over calls, but eventually, things calmed down with each passing month. Not that they stopped fighting, they simply stopped communicating and that's when things spotted making a difference.

But to be honest, all of this and a lot more never left me. Even today, while walking across a street if I come across screams and fights, I would start sweating and my adrenaline would shoot up in a millisecond. If someone close enough to me ends up shouting, I would recoil, go all silent and start relentlessly apologizing even when I wasn’t at fault. I would always avoid such arguments in an attempt to protect myself from my deep seated trauma and suppressed issues.

Today, I live with my mum and elder brother. Dad does meet us but occasionally. I think I like it more, at least there is some silence and the lost laughter and chuckles were back at home. At least, I don't cry myself to sleep every night and at least i know how peace feels.

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