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As kids, the twins chattered a lot. They constantly interrupted each other and never made much sense to others either. They were overtly chirpy and out of control. On an unfortunately hot day, when the teenage boys were annoying her more than usual, the mother just snapped. Using the powers she was granted from being tolerant for years together, she cursed them. ‘Only one of you can talk at a particular time.’

A flash in the sky, torrential downpour later, the teenage boys grew silent. Not realising what her curse meant, she enjoyed the new found silence. Over the years she noticed that only one of them spoke for months on while the other remained hidden in silence. Occasionally, he responded in mono-syllables. Especially when the other was real chatty. She tried to undo her error but they remained like that despite all her efforts. Even if they weren’t in the same space, same room or same city even; only one of them spoke at a particular time. It was the consequence of her curse and she had to live with it. But no amount of begging, pleading or praying the mighty gods was able to undo her curse. The twins themselves never questioned their cycles of silence and speech. They accepted it blindly.

Until one day, a dame walked into one of the twin’s life. She noticed the clear signs of tampering and called out the mother. The mother denied it for hours before caving and narrating the whole story. The dame felt sorry for the twins trapped in the cycle. Unfortunately for the twins, she couldn’t change their fate. She kept the mother’s secret and never told a soul.

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We stayed with each other, rarely exchanging a syllable. The silence was comfortable because the words we spoke were harsh and cruel. Our relationship knew no other treatment. His screams silenced me, my anger kept him quiet. If neither of us were shouting, it was cause we weren’t talking. And honestly, I think our kids, non-identical twins, preferred our silence. They charged to their rooms when they felt the tempers rise. The atmosphere at home had never been warm or welcoming. I am positive the children are messed up. One cannot be wholesome, rounded in such an environment. We had no one to blame but ourselves if this was true. The arguments weren’t earth shattering but were a constant. Matter of fact, they were always petty. The kids once saw him raise his hand; he only stopped because he heard a whimper from Sneha. Even then, Rajeev had stood stoically without a sound. I had always wondered what examples his father had set for him. Hopefully, he wouldn’t treat his partner this way.

A few years ago, both the children had moved out. To me, they remained kids despite turning 21. But they had found jobs, become independent and started living by themselves. I got calls from both of them but neither of them ever visited us. I was reluctant to let them leave the house before marriage but I preferred they stayed far away from this nonsense. I hoped they kept in touch with each other and their father too.

It had not crossed my mind to leave him, too. I had given in to a life of anger and misery. The pain I felt persistently, I was able to dismiss as inconsequential. His violence wasn’t damaging. It wasn’t physical or quantifiable. He brought home money each day. So, he shouted a little and threw stuff around. I couldn’t quite convince myself my reaction was valid. I had no real motivation to leave him. It didn’t occur to me to set myself free. I was poor and financial independence was a long shot. Yet, it was achievable. But, the battles to leave him and with that the marriage would not be easy. This thought dissuaded me from trying. So I stayed in that house and tolerated him for 28 years of my life. And I still do.