The firm knock on the door made her jump. Even though she was expecting this knock, the police arrived much faster than she had imagined.
She looked at her husband; he was pacing nervously in the far corner of the living room. They exchanged a brief glance – both of them nervous, beyond nervous.
The officer knocked again, this time much harder. Unwillingly, she walked to the door and turned the knob without making a noise.
A tall RCMP officer in full uniform was standing at the door, with his hand cautiously placed on the gun holster.
“Mrs. Sharma?” The officer inquired.
“Yes… Yes!” She said twice; her voice just barely louder than a whisper.
The officer peeked inside the house before actually stepping in. He spotted her husband standing motionless in the far end of the living room.
“Ma’am, I am Officer Wilson; we are responding to the 911 call….the emergency call” He said; he turned his head and looked around the house, inspecting the premises while still standing at the door.
She did not say anything in response.
“Is that your husband? Mr. Sharma?” He looked at her husband with a piercing gaze.
She just nodded, without saying anything again.
“Anybody else in the house? Any kids?”
“No,… my son…. is at school right now.” She responded quickly this time .
“Mr. Sharma, have a seat if you want, I will be with you shortly. “ He said to the husband as he walked towards the door.
“Ma’am, can I talk to you outside?” It was more of an order and she obliged, stepping outside the door. She noticed another officer standing just outside the door – a female office that walked over to her as soon as she stepped out.
“Mrs. Sharma!” Officer Wilson paused, “We are responded to your emergency call.”
She did not say anything in return.
“Ma’am, what happened?” He asked, this time very affirmatively, almost demanding.
“We just had an argument…”
“We just had a fight!”
“Did he hit you?”
“Ma’am, I am Officer Lee. We have a reason to believe that your husband hit you. That is what you reported on the phone!” This time, the female officer asked as the male officer stepped back.
She did not say anything in response.
“You don’t need to be scared Mrs. Sharma! The law is on your side. Just tell us, so we can help you!” The female officer said in a consoling tone.
She gazed on her own feet, without making a single sound!
“You don’t need to be scared of him; we can remove him from the premises if he is physically threatening you or abusing you!” The female officer said in a commanding tone.
“No, we just had a fight!”
“Your left cheek is very red; did he hit you?” Officer Lee continued her questioning while the officer Wilson marched back into the house.
“Mr. Sharma”, the officer almost commanded him as he walked towards him. He stood up immediately.
“Mr. Sharma, how are you!”
“….Good!” he said quietly after some pause.
“Did you hit your wife?” The officer got to the point right away.
“No, …. No sir!” He replied in a shaky voice.
“Nobody calls for help without reason; this is a serious matter, Mr. Sharma!”
“We had a fight…..”
“And, then?….You hit her?”
“Why did she call the police?”
He did not say anything.
“Do you understand that this is a serious felony, do you?”
“I did not hit her, sir!”
The officer spotted broken china in the kitchen, on the far end of the house?
“Did you have a fight in the kitchen?”
“yes…. Yes sir?”
“I see some broken china…?”
“It just fell from my hand, it was an accident….”
The officer paused, walked around and looked for more signs of disturbance. Then he came back to him.
“Are you a Canadian citizen?”
“Were you born and raised here, in Canada?”
“No, born in India….came here when I was 10.”
“So you should know that you cannot abuse women in this country?”
The officer sized him up again, looking at him from head to toe. Without saying anything more, he turned around and walked out of the house.
Outside, Officer Lee was still talking to her in a very calm demeanor. During this ‘friendly interrogation’, the officer was able to calm her down. Her questions ranged from the married life to any financial troubles.
“Do you have family support around here?” Officer Lee asked in a calm tone.
“Yes, my parents live nearby; my brother too…”
“In Vancouver area?”
“Yes, they live only a few blocks away, here in Surrey…”
Officer Wilson interrupted the calm atmosphere, and she got frigid and nervous again.
“Ma’am, we know you had a fight, probably physical fight!” he said.
She said nothing, but her silence was enough for the officer to continue.
“He probably hit you!… your left cheek is red for a reason!”
She rubbed her cheek with an awkward motion, but did not reply.
“Ma’am, we can arrest him and remove from the premises if you are threatened!”
She did not know what to say. It seemed to her that the time had stopped; she wanted a way out of the present situation but did not know what to do next.
“Ma’am, would you like to confirm the abuse and press charges? “
“No…no!” She responded quickly and looked at the female officer, as if asking for help.
“Ma’am! This type of abuse generally aggravate with time, make sure you understand your rights!”
“No, we are OK, we just had a fight!”
The two police officers looked at each other; then the female officer spoke softly.
“Ma’am, we cannot help you without your cooperation….,” she paused, “we are only a phone call away if you change your mind!”
Officer Lee took out a card with bunch of names and phone numbers on it, “Here is the direct contact info for Surrey Police!… We can also get you in touch with someone to help you with any questions regarding family abuse situations….”
She grabbed the card gently and said nothing.
“Is there anything else, ma’am?”
“No, ….sorry about all this!”
“No problem ma’am…you have a good day!”
“Officer Wilson…” Officer Lee looked at her colleague signaling to leave.
The two police officers walked over to their car. Officer Wilson went around to the driver side, while the female officer hopped into the passenger side.
“I don’t know what is up with the Indian women. They would rather die from spousal abuse than leave their home or press charges.” He said as he turned the car on.
“…. or kick the husband out of the house!” Officer Lee said with a smirk.
“yes,….. or that! At least do something; send a message!” he quipped.
“I don’t know; it is probably social thing. I heard that a divorced woman is looked down in their society?” Officer Lee responded.
“Even here, in Canada?”
“Seems that way!” Officer Lee said replied, putting on her seat belt.
Leaving the driveway, their car reversed on to the road and then drove off.
She stood in the doorway until the police car had turned the corner and disappeared behind the houses on the next block. Then, she came in, gently closing the door behind her. She kicked off her slippers and ran upstairs to the master bedroom. Her husband was not in the living room anymore, and she did not care to look for her.
“To hell with you!” she muttered quietly as she climbed up the stairs.
She laid down in their king size bed, her blank look fixated at the ceiling. She felt trapped. She did not have the courage, she realized, to walk away from the abusive situation. She did not want rest of the world to know her problems. Perhaps she did not want to burden her parents; perhaps it was the pride; or perhaps 6 year old son…. Or all of this combined….
She thought it over and over…. Her own misery made her helpless. When she was young, she used to consider herself very brave. At that moment, she felt like a coward…..She was no longer the brave daughter of proud parents, she thought… but a trapped coward……
The phone ring interrupted her thought process! She looked at the caller-id, it was her mom.
“Hello mom!” She said quietly.
“Hi Meenu! What are you doing?” this was her mom’s routine question, the conversation starter on the phone.
“Nothing mom; ..nothing!”
“Is every okay?” He mom sensed from her voice that something was wrong?
“Yes mom, everything is all right!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes mom, it’s all right; I am just tired!”
“Come over later on if you can, I made some kheer today – your favorite pudding!”
“Okay mom, bye!” She ended the call quickly, before her mom could linger the conversation anymore. And then, she threw herself back on the soft mattress and burst into tears.
Related Stories and Articles:
- A father’s Pride
- The Tea Time
- The night before Babbu’s wedding
- Her first job in America
- Unmourned death of a mother tongue
- The way I used to be
- Abroad, you never feel at home
- A lesson in American History