It was just another night without anything special about it. The old stars and constellations, partially hidden by floating misty clouds, were neither bright nor sparkly. A sad crescent of the waning moon hung in the background looking thoroughly bored by the endless cycle of waxing and waning.
Parukutty too looked forlorn, her right hand playing with the kuzhiminni * that rested against her soft shapely throat and her left hand loosely lying on her lap. She sat on the veranda of her home or rather whatever was left out of it, (the last monsoon was harsh on her modest shelter) her head resting against the decaying wood pillar, and watched the shifting shadows from the eerumadam across paddy fields in front of her house. Even in the dim light she could see the swaying paddy their heads dropping in the weight of the golden bounty they carried. She knew there were people in the eerumadam, it was time for harvest and stray cattle are a major threat to small farmers. Well, as long as those long shadows stayed where they were and did not trouble her, Parukutty would not trouble them as well.
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This was the house she was born in and before her, her mother was born in and before her mother, her grandmother was born in. This land was her birth right; from mothers to daughters till the end of time. It would've been so if she had not chosen to marry him; braving her people and society. And what did he do to her? Would any man who loved his woman have done that? May be her people and the society were indeed right in foreboding her in the first place! But then what did the society do or for that matter her people do when they found out about the injustice done to her? Nothing! He left with all her money and later died a horrendous death with his jugular vein snapped by a beast, life force ebbing away with each drop of blood. He got away the easy way. A sarcastic curve flitted above her upper lip.
After all she was a woman. A woman is supposed to give birth without screaming in pain, enter the world as a daughter with only a whimper and live in the shadows rest of her life whilst serving others. And the whole world turns its back on the plight of women; as though her life and death was a matter of no consequence. No one cared if a woman lived, died or was murdered. And she was unfortunate to be born a woman. An angry crimson hue colored her cheeks and her hands clenched at the shameful memory. Parukutty closed her eyes and waited patiently for the anger to subside. Back then it made her wild, violent and mad at the world. She shook the world around her. She would not heed to any pleas .She took her own time to calm down. Now it is much simple. Time had healed her wounds. All she had to do was close her eyes and sit still.
If anyone passed by they would've been rooted to the spot by the spectacle that was Parukutty. With Parukutty, time simply stopped wrecking damage when she turned thirty. Even after all these years she looked as beautiful as she was at thirty. Her thick long curls still the color of night sky, her skin like the pale moon, her brows like the bows of cupid and her lips..Oh! Those lips! Lips juicy red from betel juices. Well, this was her kingdom, this home and the yard around it, the chembaka tree on the west corner of her yard and the pala tree in the south. And she the reigning queen. Trespassers, she did not entertain. Visitors, she never received. Ah! then there were strangers, travelers on the highway, who didn't know this was her realm. But then that was a long time ago she remembers with hunger. Now nobody bothered her. Not even the stray dogs of the village. She was left out in relative peace.
She did not mind the solitude. She walked around her chembaka and pala trees, stringing those fragrant flowers and humming lost lullabies. She loved the full moon nights when both the trees bloomed like a girl at the cusp of her womanhood. The branches drooped with heavy blossoms and the air is filled with its redolence. Some days she imagined them as two lover boys who vied for her attention. While the pala tree showered her with the pearly white flowers as she passed under it, the chambaka tree spread a bed of the fragrant flowers for her to rest on. On cloudy dark new moon’s they were the resting place of stars. The white flowers on them looked like soft stars from afar.
The night would end soon. Parukutty would have to go back to her shadows. The road in front of her home would soon hear footfalls. The people in “eerumadam” would heave a sigh of relief and thank heavens for a peaceful night. After all she was no longer Parukutty. Parukutty died with her unfaithful husband choking her unsuspicious self on a moon lit night. He had then hung her limp body from the pala tree.
He cried beating his chest,” She was mad! My poor Parukutty! She could never become a mother. She simply couldn’t accept it. Now look at her folly! Oh!Paru!! How am I supposed to live now?”
All this for the benefit of the villagers who very well knew Parukutty had not committed suicide. Nevertheless who would want to pick up a row with the deshom adhikari’s nephew?
“That was the poor child’s destiny!” the old hags croaked.
It was not destiny. It was one man’s malice. One human’s selfish act that ended not one life but two; a mother and an unborn child. Parukutty wouldn’t leave him in peace. He was her first, in life and after life. This time she watched him writhe in agony in as her canines found the jugular veins on the familiar territory of his neck. She was now Yakshi* Paru, the demon who quenched her thirst with the warm blood of young men. The vengeful spirit who could shake earth and command the lighting and thunder
Her hatred of men waned, her revenge accomplished, she roams the earth without salvation. As each morning dawns Parukutty recedes to the dark recesses of her home only to come out at night once again, night after night.
The sunlight prickled Parukutty out of her thoughts; she let out a cry filled with pain and anguish not at the hurting sun but at her plight, for her restless wronged soul, for the peace that eluded her even in death and at the thought of injustices that go unpunished.
Kuzhiminni: A traditional necklace worn by women in Kerala
Deshom Adhikari : The title given to a person who was granted a territory of land
Yakshi:In Kerala, they are reputed to waylay men with their beauty and drink their blood.
Eerumadam:The tree house or raised platform.
Chembakam: Magnolia Champaka,a tropical flowering plant
Pala: Alstonia scholaris