“Let him die.”
The anger, the hurt was so vibrant and the child actress was just a 10year old.
“Anandi, that’s not right, it’s your father,” Poornima was trying to get the Anandi into the character as she was directing Shorab and Rustom, the children of the remand home were to perform this on doordarshan.
“Anandi,”tried Poornima again,”Shorab is supposed to be your father; would you kill your father?”
Anandi looked right into Poornima’s eyes, her anger very visible, and she was trembling, “I said, let him die,’ she hissed back before running out.
Next rehearsal Anandi did not show up, no other child seems to even come close to her acting skills. Yet Anandi was almost invisible in the home. When visitors came while other children were either rebellious or tried to get attention, Anandi would find excuses to stay away. When her mother did visit her, she would quietly sit next to her pressing the Natraj pencil harder on the paper and concentrate on her drawing. As if the lead that flowed on to the paper somehow blocked her mother’s nagging away.
A week later, her mother Lakshmavva was there to visit her,
“I don’t want to see her” Anandi declared in her soft voice,
“You send her to school, and put ideas into her head, how is she going to make living” lakshmavva, began yelling at the-caretaker, “There is nothing wrong with her that a good beating will not cure.”
‘Why is she here Lakshmavva, did she steal anything or do anything wrong?’ asked Poornima,
“Yavva,thayi, she just sat like she was possessed by the stone demon, we took her to daktramma, who checked her and kept her in the hospital, when her father came to pick her after a week, the daktramma said, that it is not good for her come home, and they sent her here.”
Gradually over Parle-G biscuits and Horlicks Poornima, nursed her relation to the child, and the child agreed to do her role, but came across through those conversation, was horrifying.
Lakshmavva, her six children and husband lived in the slums of Mysore. Anandi being the third. The first daughter Sita was spritely and fun loving. Each night Lakshmavva’s husband Venkappa came home drunk beat up his wife. And Lakshmavva, would share her horror story to Puttappa, the labour contractor this irked Venkappa.
It was late afternoon, and Lakshmavva, came home a bit early from work she heard Sita cry,”bedrappo, bitbide” that is leave me alone, Venkappa, was sitting out with the bottle and two men were in with Sita, suddenly Lakshmavva, understood the change in spritely Sita to the new lost look she had achieved. With Puttappa’s help she got Sita married.
“You, stupid woman, what was your hurry to get her married, why do grudge me some pleasure” would be Venakappa’s refrain before he beat his wife up. Lakshmavva was thought that Venkappa was pimping his daughter.
When Anandi turned nine, she was stuck by the same stunned look that Sita had, for a week, before she ran away to Sita’s house.
Dr.Sujatha Belagole was the doctor at the primary health centre, she looked at the girls before her. She knew they were scared, and but didn’t know what.
“tapas madlenu?” she asked permission to conduct an examination.
The older girl pushed the younger one, forward. The girl had definitely been raped. “Yare” she asked softly.
The older girl cuddled the younger one protectively and said, it was the same man who raped her initially before allowing other men.
“Why did you not tell your mother?”
“I tried to, but she hit me and got me married instead.” Both the girls sat quietly.
“Is there no way we can keep Anandi safe?” asked Sita.
That was how Anandi was brought to the remand home, to keep her safe from a father who raped her and a mother who refused to accept the truth. Now Poornima agreed
“Let him die.”