Dark childhood continues: Everybody left the classroom. I could hear the choir singing in the assembly, "Sun lo Bhagwan vinay hamari, hum baalak hai sharan mein tumhari." I was supposed to be a part of the choir. I was in the singing choir from fifth to seventh grade. Had I made it a couple of minutes earlier that day, I would have been singing my gutts out on the mic. But there I was, sitting right in front of Ms Sailaja who taught science and spoke bad english. She said, "Viha, can you put your head up.". I couldn't if I tried. She asked, "Do you feel shame.". I nodded to say, "Yes." She then gave me a good schooling about what a school is and what I was there for. I did not know if I wanted the morning assembly to finish quickly to skip the torture I was being put through or wait for the torture that was awaiting after all the students came in to stare at me and talk about me for the rest of the day. After she nicely taught me the importance of education and the wrong things that I was doing, she wasn't finished. She brought her iron scale and missed breaking my knuckles. I was hit on each hand thrice. There was a line of scar on the boney side of my hand with evident blood clot on both hands. The other students then came in and I was sent back to my place in the first bench. The entire class stared at me while the class was going on and I was staring hard only at my teacher. For a second or two, my eyes went to looking at my knuckles and I was seeing how I could ignore it. After her class was over, Sandeep Patil came to me and said, "Sorry Viha, we did not want to give the letter, but Jyothi did." I quickly went towards the school toilets so that I could pee or cry. While I was walking, I heard them all in the staff room. The tallest of the teachers was saying, "I heard from someone that she has a drunk father who is also very old. Too old to be her father." Then Ms Sailaja said in a mystery decoded tone, "That is why her father never comes to parent-teacher meeting." They were still laughing about the letter. The tallest teacher said, "If 10 year olds do this, what will happen to her in her youth. " The news of the love letter spread from section to section in school. One day the tallest teacher came to my class and asked, "Who is Viharanya Dash.". I stood. She looked at me and thought "No wonder." I was waiting for her to say "come with me" or ask me to walk up to her, but she did not. She walked up to me straight. She hit me with all her might on my face with her huge hands doing justice to her full fat body. I was shaking vigorously with the force of each hit. I was losing my balance to fall but I was being caught back again and being hit some more. After the session ended, I was asked to stand outside the classroom. I stood there waiting to know what was it that I had done differently this time. I did not cry that day. I was only waiting to have a look at the mirror. After her class was over she came out to me. She asked me, "Do you have a step mother.". I said I did not. She then said, "half the girls of this school claim that you have a step mother and the remaining say that you believe they all have step mothers. Did you say that Jyothi, Shalini, Samhita, Vaishnavi and Shruthi have step mothers." I said, "No. I said that only Jyothi had a step mother. Not the other girls. I lied about only Jyothi." She asked me, "Why did you say Jyothi has step mother.". While I gathered my thoughts to answer that question, a random Sanskrit teacher came to my class where there was no teacher and screamed, "Who is Viharanya Dash.". I heard my name again. I forgot I was asked something. I was already outside the classroom so it was easy for me to step up again to introduce myself with all the pride I just gathered. He came towards me. Now there were two teachers facing me. The sanskrit guy looked at Miss Tall and said, "Yeh kya bacchi hai.". He did not wait for her to answer. He came in at me directly and pinched my ear hard. He then asked me to hold both ears and apologize as I take each sit up. My right ear was blood shot. Honestly, I had no idea what else I was being beaten for. I did not know what exactly to realize. Post these events, I stopped studying. I started failing my tests. I was caught hiding my unit papers at home. One Sunday morning after the unit tests were over, I was happy to not go to school but not thrilled. I woke up to see all of my papers on the floor of the house. My sister knew I had them hiding in my school bag and worked towards them while I was sleeping. My mother and sister sat there and were looking hard at my marks. Mom was saying, "She got 6 out of 25 in social studies, 12 in Science, 15 in Mathematics." They then saw my language papers and said, "She has topped in both languages English and Hindi. She got 25 out of 25 in Hindi. Her written english is very good. Then why can't she understand social studies and sciences." My sister said, "She is an actress. Acting is all she does. Did she not look happy yesterday. How can she be so happy and shameless about these marks. She was beaten very badly by the science teacher in school, her enemy Jyothi told me. Jyothi told me her mouth was bleeding. She was still acting happy the entire day yesterday."  When I finally faced them there for confrontation, my sister called me towards her and beat me up and pulled my ear ring off the hole. In the day time on holidays, on a good day, I spent my time watching TV and playing with some random kids in the apartment. I had one friend named Shree in my apartment. She was a year older and belonged to a very orthodoxed Kannadigan family. I never lied to Shree or about Shree to anybody. I did not know why I was loyal to her like that. May be I was scared of getting caught by my mom as we lived in the same apartment. Shree topped her grades often. On a bad day, I used to get beaten up by my sister or have an irrational fight about anything. If my sister was right about what she was doing, I would end up studying the whole day. If she was wrong, I would end up throwing constant erratic behavior and screaming and crying my lungs out to only prove how I was right. I could do that the whole day tirelessly. I would go to my mom again and again not letting her work to tell her I was right and had a story on my side. I would do so in a screeching, painful tone over and over again. I would lean against the door and cry for hours but never backdown or sit back. I fought constantly. In the nights, my father generally came home drunk. He spoke gibberish. My mother abused him with words sometimes. She used subtle synonyms like jobless, beggar etc. It sometimes happened for few days in a row constantly until the day my father showed up fresh and sober out of no where. I knew he would be a drunk in the long run. That's all I knew about him. I never spoke much to him. He didn't like me much. I was as troublesome as he was. We should have actually bonded over that but I never saw him as a significant man in my life. He was old, frail, drunk and very cunning everytime I looked at him. My mother was both the bread earner and home maker. She had my respect. My father was living off her money. But he never drank with her money. He drank with anybody else's money but her. I never saw him ask her for money. He was indeed jobless but drank everyday. I never wondered in childhood how he managed that. I got a small idea one day of how this money could be coming in when they both were having a big-ass fight. He was highly drunk and was holding a huge-ass plate to chuck it at her head. They were standing at a 2 armed distance, safe enough for her to flee if he didn't have any speed in him. He held that plate in one constant position pointing at her for long minutes and he cried as he abused her and was unable to reach her to hit her. My mother mentioned something about gambling during the fight. She said words like horse racing, betting. money, drinking, friends, die etc. That was the first time I heard about betting or gambling. I got a small idea about the money he used for drinking. He did not hit her much at least through out my childhood. I was once told by Mom that he used to hit her a lot before we were born and one day she chucked the hot pan that she was cooking in at his hand. He stopped hitting her from that day on. He also realized that he never earned to be able to take that authority. I don't know how this content will be received but I have seen my mother beat my father up many times. Sometimes with slippers too. Whenever I looked at her, I used to admire her. I could tell she was a very hard working woman with two daughters and a drunk man to take care of. The house that we were all living in was bought with each peny that she earned with her two bare hands. The food that we ate was cooked by her in haste as she ran out of time. Her legs hurt in the night as she had arthritis from the running around. She was doing everything it took to be what she was. She was five foot four, healthy and fighting. I was watching her one day trying every means to win an arguement with my father about how she was working very hard to allow him to have his high day after day. She was generating words in all honesty. She was telling him and trying to make him understand what she was trying to achieve in her life. When I heard every word coming out of her, I thought, "Fuck everyone, I'm going to start studying for her."