Updated: Sep 5
Individuals are often a product of their upbringing and rarely do they reinvent their personalities to the times they live in and act accordingly. It so happens that these same individuals become those they have never had in their lives, even for the worst sometimes.
“The Patriarch” by K. M. Sindhushree tells the story of a boy who confidently acts on his beliefs that he often forgets to question the actions’ ethical and moral implications. It is a story that shows how people in power defend their recklessness, claiming it is their duty and responsibility to act in a certain way.
Disclaimer: For ages above 18 only.
Part I: Death
This novella is available in paperback & ebook.
“Oh, God! It is 8 am already! I have to reach the office in thirty minutes!. Why didn’t the alarm ring today? Did I forget to set it last night? Well, that has never happened before, and Padma said she would be back before sunrise, but she is not here yet. She is certainly getting out of line these days! I will be late for work today because she failed to set the alarm last night before leaving.”
Narayan spoke to himself as he walked towards the main gate to fetch the milk cursing his wife. On his way, he noticed Padma enter the gate slowly with a petrified look. She walked past him like he was not standing there, and as she did, Narayan screamed, “Where the hell were you? You are not only late but even ignoring me as if I am not here?”
Unbothered, Padma kept walking, and Narayan continued, “Don’t walk away while I am talking to you, Padma! Your failure to set the alarm is making me late for work!”
Padma entered the kitchen without flinching and opened the refrigerator door to store the milk. Narayan furiously followed her, shouting, “Did you just walk past me like I didn’t exist?”
Padma lifted her head but didn’t respond to his question. She once again ignored Narayan’s presence and started walking towards their bedroom. Narayan, burnt with anger, started looking for something, telling himself, “She is going to die in my hands today.”
Meanwhile, Padma screamed at the top of her voice, “Oh God!”
Narayan screamed back from the living room with a confused look on his face, “What happened now?”
Padma didn’t respond. Instead, she sobbed loudly. Narayan entered their bedroom to find out what had happened. He was awestruck after witnessing his body lying on the bed. He could not believe what he had just seen and wished it was a nightmare.
Padma continued to sob loudly, and Narayan stood there still, unable to understand how he could be standing near the entrance, still breathing while his body lay on the bed. Padma, before long, returned to her senses and dialled to say, “Nandu! I think your dad is no more. He is not breathing. I am terrified; please come home immediately.”
“Your dad is no more? Am I not breathing? What is she saying?” Narayan asked himself without moving an inch. He is unsure how long it has been since he stood there still. Soon the word spread, and people started to gather at his house and sob uncontrollably.
With members coming from everywhere, Narayan was even more worried. At one point, he screamed, unable to take it anymore, “Can somebody tell me what is happening here?”
Though he didn’t get an answer, he noticed two beings floating toward him. Their appearance hinted at the bitter reality that he was dead. At last, the truth was so evident that he wept, saying to himself, “I can’t believe I could be dead. I cannot die this soon, and this can’t be happening.”
One of the messengers walked up to him, commanding, “Mortal, your time here is done. We have a long way to go.”
Narayan fell on the messenger’s feet and cried, “Please don’t take me. I can’t be gone this soon, not today and not for another few years.”
“What? You don’t get to bargain with death. You have served your time here, and we must leave immediately,” the messenger responded. “Now get on your feet and start walking with us,” demanded another messenger.
Narayan, still sobbing, implored, “Please do not do this to me, my family is dependent on me, and I cannot abandon them by dying.”
“You can’t be serious about this? You either walk with us politely, or we will have to drag your arse from here. Either way, you are going with us,” ordered the first messenger controlling his anger.
Narayan pleaded again, but this time, he asked for another chance at life. The second messenger asked, “What makes you think we would agree?”
“Because I have always been a responsible and kind human being. Moreover, my family needs me here,” replied Narayan confidently.
“No, they absolutely don’t, and why would we give you another chance at life for your family’s sake when all you have done is punish your loved ones?” asked the first messenger.
To which the second messenger added, “Your death is a favour to them from our end.”
That statement didn’t stop Narayan from pleading, “My body is still here, and I promise I will rectify all my mistakes and not be the same person as before if only offered another chance. Everybody deserves a second chance, don’t they?”
The first messenger replied, “If you could recall the cruel and inhuman things that you have done, I don’t think you would even ask your life back to rectify it.”
Narayan, without a moment of hesitation, replied, “What if I do?”
Nearly three decades ago -
Narayan and his family had gathered at Padma’s house. After they settled in the main hall and Padma was brought before them, Narayan’s mother whispered, “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”
“Just being beautiful is not always enough,” Narayan replied curtly. “She should have a pleasing face, an acceptable wit, and gentle manners enough to credit that she is my wife. Most of all, her character should not be deficient.”
Narayan's mother bitterly replied, expressing her disgust on her face, “You view women merely as chattels and breeding stock. Wake up before it is too late!”
That was the last word Narayan’s mother spoke until they reached the point of consummation. Padma was dressed up in a white saree with light make-up and jewellery. She didn’t seem excited. Rather, she looked petrified after what her mother had said to her before sending her inside the bedroom. Her mother’s words just kept ringing like an alarm in her head. Padma, tonight it might not be as beautiful as you think. He might hurt you, but definitely unintentionally, and there could be blood, but do not worry. It will only get better. Padma had no idea what her mother was talking about, but she could not help but think of the words ‘hurt’ and ‘blood’ again & again.”
Even when she entered the room, she kept wondering about “Hurt and blood” while horrendous thoughts took over her.
However, before long, Narayan interrupted them by saying, “Looks like you are all set for a beautiful ride tonight, love.”
Padma did not respond because she simply didn’t know what to say. Narayan, noticing her lost in her thoughts, asked, “What are you thinking about? Love?”
To which she responded, “Nothing. I’m just…” and she paused. She couldn’t manage to say what she was thinking, but something lightened her up when Narayan mentioned the word ‘beautiful’. She hoped maybe it would not be as bad as her mother had described it would be. She also recalled her friend Savitha talking about her wedding night. She said it was incredible, joyful & passionate, and her friend has never lied to her.
“Padma!” yelled Narayan, “You seem so lost!”
“No, I am not,” she replied immediately.
“Alright! I am sure your mother has explained everything to you in detail about the wedding night?” asked Narayan curiously.
Though that question took her to the two words blood and hurt, Padma hesitantly replied, “Yes. Of course.”
With a beaming smile, Narayan announced, “Good, then let us start without wasting any more time.”
Confused, Padma asked innocently, “Start what? Talk about myself?”
“What do you want us to talk about yourself?”
“About my likes and dislikes, for example, my favourite colour or food..”
Interrupting her, Narayan replied, “Don’t be silly! We have all the time in the world to talk about these petty things. This is not the right time for that.
Padma felt like someone had just punched her in the gut but remained quiet, hoping it would get better. Narayan moved closer to her and looked at her “I need you,“ he growled. “I need you right now.”
Padma didn’t flinch. She didn’t know what to say. He instructed her to lay flat on her back. Padma hesitantly followed his orders. As he slowly stripped off his clothing, his eyes never left her charmingly dishevelled form. First, he unbuttoned his shirt one button at a time. Then his trouser had already been rumpled by his order.
He caught her eyes, dark and large and filled with confusion and smiled with satisfaction that she was indeed a virgin.; “You have never seen a naked man before, have you?” he murmured.
She shook her head, saying no. To which he remarked, “Perfect”, and leaned forward, removed her saree and threw it on the floor. As he moved closer, he whispered, “You will never see another, too.”
Padma lay flat on her back on the mattress with just her blouse and skirt on. Narayan’s desire swelled when he imagined her breasts with no blouse on. He wanted to enjoy himself thoroughly in bed since the time he had laid eyes on her. However, he felt she was still fully clothed and still fully innocent. She wasn’t yet ready to see the proof of his desire. But little did he care about what she wanted or desired. He climbed onto her like a feral cat and crawled towards her inching closer to her elbows, which had been propping her up.
His ends slid to the top button of her blouse and unhooked it. He still could not get a clear picture of her breasts. He unhooked all her blouse buttons, and now he looked at her breasts with hunger. Her nipples were rosy pink, and her breasts perfectly fit his hands. He cupped one of her breasts, squeezing it hard, and Padma screamed in pain. He didn’t bother to pay attention to her scream.
“So lovely,” he murmured and squeezed both her breasts harder. She was in pain, but she could not express it after all she was told by her mother. She certainly did not want to upset her newlywed husband and make things worse.
“I want to feel you,” he whispered, interrupting her thoughts. She was so perfect, so utterly beautiful, and he wanted her all for himself. He reached her waist, trying to get rid of her skirt, but he could not manage to do it, which only frustrated him. He yelled, “Can’t you see I am unable to get rid of this skirt of yours?”
Frightened, Padma immediately sat upright and got rid of her skirt. She was completely naked in front of him and was uncomfortable under his gaze. He demanded she lay back on the mattress, which she did. He reached her womanhood and brought his lips close to hers down there. She shivered with desire for the first time and moaned softly.
Pleased, he moved over her, nudging her legs further apart and letting out a moan; he took a deep breath. He was trying to make sure that he remained slow and gentle, but his need was getting stronger and stronger, and his own breath was growing fast and ragged.
She was ready for him, or at least as ready as she was going to be. He knew that this first time would bring her pain. He fitted himself against her opening, using his arms to brace his body a few inches above hers.
“I’m going to make you mine now,” he said, inching forward as he spoke.
He plunged forward.
“Oh,” she breathed.
“Oh my!,” he groaned, barely able to believe just how good it felt to be buried completely within her. “Oh, my, indeed!” he shook his head slowly as his body began to move in an ancient rhythm. His mouth took hers as one of his hands snaked up to caress her breast.
She was utter perfection beneath him, her hips rising to meet his, moving tentatively at first, then with a vigour that matched her rising passion. “Oh, God!” he moaned, his ability to form flowery sentences completely lost in the primitive heat of the moment. “You’re so good. So good, ” he admitted.
Her breath was coming faster and faster, and each little wispy gasp inflamed his passion even more. And with each thrust, it was getting more difficult to put her needs before his.
“You’re so beautiful, so unbelievably,” he exclaimed, trying his best.
She’d stiffened beneath him, and not in the climax, “You called me beautiful,” she whispered.
For the life of him, he couldn’t understand how that was a bad thing.
“I’m not beautiful,” she whispered. “Listen to me,” he said, his voice even and intense, “and listen well because I’m only going to say this once. I desire you. I couldn’t sleep all these days wanting you. I have lusted for you. It’s the most maddening, beguiling, damnable thing, but there it is. And if I hear one more word of nonsense from your lips, I’m going to have to tie you to the bloody bed and have my way with you a hundred different ways. Until you finally get it through your silly skull that you are the most beautiful and desirable woman that I have ever met, and if everyone else doesn’t see that, then they’re all bloody fools.”
He thrust into her real hard, this time with his long and hard erection. She screamed in pain but moaned after a second. From that day and for all the years to come, Narayan never requested or pleaded for sex. It was always offered at his will, and not a day went by where he didn’t think it was right to be given what he sought.
Nearly a decade ago!
Sujatha was twenty-two when Narayan caught her with a man in the back of his car, parked next to Narayan’s backyard at nine o’clock on a Sunday night. The car was cold, and they had been doing pretty much the same thing a dozen times before. Sujatha had not realised that she had started paddling in the wrong direction until it was too late.
She moaned, closing her eyes while her boyfriend with her did his thing, one hand wrapped around her ponytail. Everything was as usual until they heard a knock on the car door. Opening her eyes, Sujatha saw her father and knew life finally got to her by making her nightmare come true.
Exiting the car dressed, Sujatha stole a look at Narayan. There might have been tears slipping down his cheek, or it might have been a trick of the headlights in the night frog.
Sujatha started to say, “Dad…”
“Don’t”, Narayan said.
Without making any eye contact, Narayan entered the back door.
“Dad, we need to talk about it,” insisted Sujatha.
“Talk about what?”
Sujatha shivered with fear and could not utter a word. Narayan made his way to the bedroom and shut the door behind him.
A few weeks later, Sujatha walked in on Narayan in the kitchen. He looked up and then back at the coffee pot. This is how it had been for weeks, them avoiding each other, tiptoeing around the house, peeking around the corners to make sure the other wasn’t there.
Sujatha went past him to get some milk and turned around once done. Narayan was still standing there holding a spoon while Sujatha sat down. He stayed with his National paper mug, eyes on the floor. He dumped out his coffee and rinsed the mug, placing it carefully on the hook near the sink.
He walked out of the kitchen without uttering a word, back straight.
“It comes down to the smallest things, Dad, really, that a person could do to say, it’s okay, I forgive you. The tiniest of declarations were built, one on top of the other, until there was something solid beneath your feet. And then…and then. Who knew?” Sujatha screamed from behind.
“Do you really expect me to say it is okay, and I forgive you after the stunt you pulled the other night?” Narayan asked.
“I mean, I am twenty-two years old and really like the guy. We are in a relationship, so it was nothing wrong. In fact, you invaded our private space and dragged me out of the car like I was an animal,” replied Sujatha.
“Just because you were doing private things in a public place doesn’t make it your private space,” Narayan yelled.
After a moment of silence, he continued, “And what did you just say? That you are in a relationship with that pervert?”
“Well, he is no pervert,” defended Sujatha.
“Do you prefer me referring to him as a Messiah, perhaps?”
“Dad, I am in a serious relationship with him and would like to marry him only.”
“And that is happening over my dead body,” replied Narayan instantly yet silently.
Noticing her daughter shocked, he said, “You knew you were always going to marry the boy I chose.”
“And that is happening over my dead body,” Sujatha retorted.
Padma heard the screams and came out to check on what was happening.
“That night,” Sujatha said, taking a deep breath, “I did something really stupid, and you should not have witnessed that, for which I really am sorry. But that doesn’t give you the right to snatch the choice of the boy I wed or treat me like my choices don’t matter.”
Interrupting her, Padma asked, “What is happening here? And watch your tone Sujatha!”
Staring at her father, Sujatha replied, “Maa, please stay out of this, and I know what I am doing.”
“You have the audacity to defend what happened and think you can deny the person I wish you to marry?”
“Yes, I do, maybe, because no one you bring is going to marry your impure daughter. If not for that pervert Kishore, no one!” Sujatha yelled.
Confused & terrified, Padma asked, “What do you mean by that?”
Looking into her daughter’s eyes, Padma remained silent while Narayan stood still for a moment before declaring, “The self-obsessed man of your choice who is just like you is not the one I would approve of. I would gladly let you die alone than offer my blessing to marry Kishore.”
“After all we have given for each other, I will not marry anyone else!” declared Sujatha.
Disappointed, Padma hesitantly asked, “Are you saying that yourself?”
“Yes, we did. In love, respect, dignity and honour for each other, maa,” replied Sujatha.
Before Narayan spoke another word, Padma slapped Sujatha across her face. Holding her cheek with one of her hands, Sujatha asked, “If what I did was a sin, then how come pushing your daughter into a stranger’s room hoping he would bed her isn’t?”
Narayan burned with anger after listening to what Sujatha had just said. He had lost himself and pulled Sujatha by her arm and dragged her out of the house.
“That’s enough of you! I can't stand your sight anymore! Be gone, you witch!” yelled Narayan at the top of his voice.
Falling on the floor, Sujatha looked around to see all her neighbours who rushed out of their homes. Broken, she turned to her mother to ask, “Is this your decision too, maa?”
Padma wept silently and stood still without uttering a word.
Standing up and dusting herself, Sujatha walked away empty-handed. Though she kept telling herself not to shed tears, they slipped from her eyes, and the home she grew up in was no longer a place she adored.
Ever since Sujatha had left home to marry the love of her life, Narayan had not been himself. He missed her, but he didn’t want to admit it. His ego would not let him do so. He was no longer the same, and somehow he felt his wife Padma was not as affected as he was.
He, however, thought maybe she was suffering from inside like him, but exteriorly she seemed fine. She didn’t suffer from sleepless nights as he did, and his dark circles got even worse. He looked thinner and mostly weak. He had not been eating well, and the only relief was that Padma was not as shattered as he thought she would be. He felt maybe she was stronger than him when it came to coping with emotions.