Remember the time you clapped for me dad? I do. As a chirpy four year old; one of my earliest memories remain of the day mom dressed me in that little red dress and we went together to school. I remember your laughter.My recitation of a bengali poem I fail to recall.Your claps still reverberate in my mind.The echo of a bygone past.
And then things changed. The day I arrived home, bruised and cut ? I was a naughty child; I know that. The accident could have been just another one had it been for you. The pool of blood? I swear I still remember the salty taste of it, seeping through my broken teeth. My wailings still reverberate in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
The first day of school three months later? I still remember the chill that run down my spine that day. The feeling of being an outcast. My whole existence overshadowed by my appearance. I remember the hushed sympathies murmured behind my back. The jeers of the fellow classmates. Their mocking laugh still reverberate in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
And then the same day next year? The same red dress and I guess; the same me. But, it had started taking a toll on me. The jeering, the mockery. Their laughter scared me dad. Their prying eyes on that scar. It left me broken dad. I did not recite the poem that day. Later in the evening, I remember mom slapping me hard; screaming at me for being a failure. You watched. Your silence still reverberates in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
Five years later? The day you walked me into the new school? The teacher who corrected my copy was praising my writing skills like anything dad. It was like a new ray of hope to me dad. I finally got over those mocking eyes. Daring to look straight into them and speak. I finally did what once mom slapped me for. I faced them and spoke. They were mesmerized. Perhaps nobody now noticed the faded scar. My national level prizes became the pride of my entire family. But neither mom nor you ever came to witness me speak. Perhaps you guys were still ashamed of me. 'Where are your parents Debjani?', they asked. I never had an answer. Their questions still reverberate in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
My board results? All parents were busy celebrating and all I got was one sms from you pointing out I had a 9.8 in a certain subject in the first summative. I was the topper dad, but once again you guys managed to make me feel like shit. Standing at the gates of one of the most coveted schools in the country in an unknown city all by myself; I felt all alone that day. The desperate parents standing in the burning sun with their kids in a queue. But there I was; a looser of a person. Inside the interview room dad, they asked me the same question.'Where are your parents Debjani?'. I had no answer again. I got through the interview but I still lost to myself that day. The question still reverberates in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
The result of twelfth boards? Sitting by the computer nervously, I knew I had screwed it up. I had always been the good girl, and I was secretly hoping things would turn out even. A slap. I remember that stinging. The locking of the room that never opened until a year. The repeated taunts. The deafening jeers. Mom's unreasonable beatings. And then, the late night drunk violence. Rishabh felt so guilty of hitting me once dad. I wish I could tell him I have been through worse every day of that year. My spirit crushed. 'You are a failure.' The sound of your words still reverberate in my ears. The echo of a bygone past.
I fought with you that evening. The first time in my life, I decided to speak for myself. I wanted to become a journalist dad. You slapped me again. But I had appeared for the damn tests and cleared them already. The day you spat on me. Hitting me hard again. Mom slapping me. Ritu standing there; busy in her smartphone. Ah! How I wished I had a smart phone dad. Slap. Another stinging one. I sat there, huddled on the floor all night. Weeping to myself. Lost. But, that night I didn't weaken. I knew what I wanted from life. My soft sobs reverberate in my mind. The echo of a bygone past.
Today. Six months down the line, and nothing is changed. Another national level prize, and all you do is to tell me over the phone is the piece of paper is completely useless. I trust you. I am sick tonight dad. And trust me, I am afraid to tell you. There is a party there at home and I can hear the guests rambling. Mom bragging about my national prize. Their laughter is appreciative. But, the fact that all of it is a social drama kills me every second. 'It is just a completely useless piece of paper,' you said. Your sentences still reverberate in my mind. I just want it to become an echo of a bygone past.

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