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Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Decision

The happiness on her face was so evident. She still could not get how her parents needed so much time to approve of him. Couldn’t they see how sincere, how genuinely caring he was? But, it was fine. They had eventually agreed to their marriage. She would not hold any grudges against them anymore. She was on top of the world. Nothing could dampen her spirits now! It was her wedding day.

Her parents did not look quite thrilled, but she was happy that they had atleast agreed to be a part of the ceremony. She was dressed in a lovely traditional yellow saree with a magenta border for the wedding. Everyone who’d talked to her that day, could not stop commenting on how pretty she looked and how the colour really flattered her skin. And happy she totally was. After arguing with the parents, and having so many fights ever since they had started going out, she could finally breathe a sigh of relief. She had not wanted to run away from her family for the marriage, she was ready to wait till they were ready and the day was here after a very long wait.

After the wedding, life was good too. Her in-laws nagged her about getting them a grandson, but she did not worry too much about it. It was only after it started changing her husband’s behaviour did she take any notice. And when he started to question her about it too, she realised things weren’t as rosy as they seemed. She had been blind in her love for him, too blind to realise he had never stood up for her. The initial courtship was the happy-happy period, she would not have been able to see through him, even if she’d tried. And after that, all her energy was focused on getting her parents to agree to the match. When she moved in with his family after the marriage, she thought the troubles she was having were just adjustment issues and things would resolve as they got used to each other. She still had hope that after having a grandchild, things would go back to normal. After all who doesn’t adore a cute little baby, especially people who had been nagging to get one in this world, for a long time. But how wrong she was!

It started with her in-laws not coming to visit her after delivery. She gave them the benefit of doubt. But, when her husband entered the room, with a long face, and the moment he blamed her for giving him a girl child, the illusions completely dispelled. That was the last straw. She could tolerate them being harsh and unfair towards her, but it was unbelievable that they would do this to the innocent baby who was born just a couple of hours ago. It was just not done! How could they even think about such discrimination? And that was when she made her decision to walk out from her husband’s house.
————————————–

A tear dropped from her moist eyes on the faded wedding photograph that had made her nostalgic. As she went through her old wedding album, she smiled wistfully, looking at her parents’ photo, imagining how different life would have been had they taken the decision for her. But that was okay, her life did not turn out as bad as they had predicted either. Her baby was going to be a doctor, she just wished her husband would have been there to see and rejoice their little girl’s big achievement.

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Rebound

She found him when she was recovering from a bad breakup. Her ex had been a jerk, and had dumped her the moment she talked about commitment . She’d taken it very badly, and all her friends were very worried for her. But, she just couldn’t get to open up and talk to anyone, that is, except him.

She did not even realise how and when he had carved a place for himself in her heart. Slowly and gradually, she started healing, in his presence. His words comforted her. And, it was just good to be around him. Things were just settling down, when her parents started pestering her for marriage.

“Let us decide for you this time. You don’t want to repeat the same mistake again”

“But ma, I need some more time. I am just getting over him.. What is the rush”

“I am not going to have this discussion over and over again. We have to think about your younger sister too. If your marriage is delayed, how will we find a good groom for her. Don’t be so selfish. I’m not going to force anything, but just tell me, if you have found someone or should we start looking for a groom ourselves”

“Can you give me until tomorrow atleast?”

“Ok, tomorrow morning it is.”
————–

She was nervous. She was not sure how he felt about her, or whether he even felt that way about her. In fact, now she was convinced he just thought them to be best friends. He had never taken her to meet his family, never even mentioned marriage, or dropped any hints about it. When they went out, it was exactly how she would go out with a friend.. no romantic indications, nothing. Was he her rebound? She wondered.

Both of them were quite different too. She was an extrovert, he was reserved. She loved talking, he was a man of few words. She loved eating out, he loved cooking. Was her interest in him just because he was different? She had heard that opposites attract, but would his different nature start bothering her over time? She was in a complete mess. On the one hand she felt all these things don’t matter, while on the other, her practical mind said, it is a decision that would affect her entire life, could she risk falling for the wrong person, once again?

“What will you have?”

She jerked back to reality, to the coffee-house where she had asked him to meet.

“Frappe, my usual” she said. Breaking up with him was going to be hard. But, she had lost confidence in herself, and her own judgment after the breakup. She had made up her mind and was going to let her parents choose a partner for her. After all, they had found each other through an arranged marriage.. and look how happy they were with each other.

“Hey, there is Dinesh, my close friend from college. Haven’t seen him in ages. I’ve gotta go over and say hi. Be back in a moment”

He had left his phone behind. She picked it up and saw it was blinking. There was a new message. Normally, she would’ve just handed over the phone to him, but today, she felt this urge, to sneak.

“All the best son” – Dad, was all the message said.

Now she was intrigued. He hadn’t mentioned about an exam or anything special, what did he needed wishes for. She scrolled down to his sent messages to find – “I’m gonna ask her today, pray for me”

That was all the confirmation she needed 😉

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My first journey.

I could not remember how I got stuck here.I was in a haze. It was dark all around. It seemed so scary. I just knew one thing. I had to push. I could almost hear my dad’s voice asking me to push a little harder. I felt my Moms thoughts urging me to fight. But, I just could not.

I remembered the sweet doctor aunty, who said it was very risky and they should not endanger my life by doing this. She said I was far too young to try it on my own. But my parents were adamant. They wanted me to be independent. They wanted me to make it on my own. Life was hard and they wanted me to start fighting young. They believed we could pull it off as a team. At this moment however I had lost all confidence.. I just wanted to curl up in my fetal position and just rest. I was tired from all the pushing. Tired of all these expectations. The doctor aunty was right. I was too young.. I could not do this on my own. They should have listened to her.

Suddenly I felt a rush around me.. It seemed like everything around me was moving towards the exit. I understood that the time had come. I could not let them down. They would be crushed I did not make it. I did not want to be a disappointment. If I was going to prove myself, it was now. I started pushing with renewed vigour. I felt a glimmer of hope when I saw a tiny ray of light. And then suddenly my head was out.. I feel myself getting out slowly.. a limb at a time.. my neck followed by my tummy.. and finally my legs. I had done it.

I realised there was finally fresh air around me.. and that I had not breathed such pure air in a long time.. As I took a lungful of that in.. I started crying.. these were tears of relief..tears of joy..And then I saw him, my dad was standing right beside me smiling. As he shook my small hand in his huge one I felt like a grown up already.. And his first words to me after this eventful journey were – “I am so proud of you my son… You made your first solo local train journey.. Now you can truly call yourself a Mumbaikar!”

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Paranoia or truth?

It was her favourite garden. A relaxing walk here around sunset, never failed to calm her down. She loved to watching the sun dip in the lake at sunset.. How the color of the sky would change from a light blue .. to orange streaks and a darker shade.. and finally turn black. It felt so peaceful.. tranquil. It was here that she came, whenever she had to make any important decisions..

She remembered all those evenings when they had come here together. Their long walks.. the discussions they had about anything and everything..

But today, she could hardly bear to look at the couples around.. They were fools… holding hands.. whispering sweet nothings to each other. Making plans for their future.. she thought bitterly!

————–

“There is nothing between the two of us.. Oh come on Sunaina, she is just a very good friend?”
“You do love her.. you just don’t want to accept it..”
“I don’t.. why are you acting so childishly?”

Their arguments echoed in her mind. She was bitter.. it was hard to accept the fact that he was not hers.

She wished time could magically rewind to a couple of months back.. They had such an amazing courtship period. Their world was so much simpler. Just the two of them. So blissfully happy with each other. It felt like no other feeling before.. that they were meant to be together, the way he looked at her.. the way his palms would close up on hers.. his goofy smile that would make her heart flutter! If someone would have told her then, that it was all a mistake, she would have laughed it off, calling the person a fool – could he not see how they just belonged to each other. And now it seemed, destiny was laughing at her – calling her a fool, for not having seen this coming.

It was all her fault! Prerna.. She spat out the name with such hate. Sumit’s best friend who had married an NRI and was settled in USA at the time of Sunaina’s marriage. The first time Sunaina saw Prerna was a couple of months back. Prerna had returned to India after her husband died in a tragic car accident. She could not bear to live in the house they built together, and there was nothing left in that country to make her stay there. So she was back, to India.. moving in with parents and unfortunately for Sunaina.. back in Sumit’s life.

Ever since Prerna returned, she was all Sumit talked about. How she needed their support to move on, how Sunaina could go and help her out – maybe take her shopping. How he was helping Prerna to create a resume, so that she could get a decent job here.. It seemed to Sunaina, that Sumit’s life had started revolving around Prerna.. as if she herself had become invisible to him.

But now, she had suffered enough. She could not go on living like this. He had to make a choice. He could either be a part of her life or Prerna’s. She gave Sumit the ultimatum.

————————–

“I am supposed to help you get your life back on track, and instead I am here asking you for help” Sumit did not want to trouble Prerna, but she was his best friend and he knew he could confide in her.

“Oh come on, you have done enough for me, its my turn now.. Spit it out!”

“Well, I hate to say this, really.. but and I don’t know how I am doing this.. but.. well Sunaina.. she has asked me to choose between you two.”

“.. I am really sorry”

“Then there isn’t much of a choice, is there?” Prerna had made her decision too. After all he was her best friend.

———————

It was almost a month since Sumit had promised to cut Prerna off from his life. He stopped talking about her, even mentioning her and claimed that he had completely cut her off. But Sunaina still saw Prerna around in their street a couple of times when Sunaina came home early from work. There would sometimes linger a faint smell of her perfume on his shirts.. especially when he was late. She once even saw an envelope with his name with a handwriting she could swear was Prerna’s.. but before she could open it.. the envelope mysteriously disappeared from the table.

Whenever she mentioned this to Sumit, he would blow her off saying that she was imagining things.. and that he was really making an effort.

She would almost believe him when he said stuff like that and then there were times like these hints of her being around that filled Sunaina’s mind with the green-eyed monster.

That fateful day was the limit. She saw Prerna’s scarf on the couch, when she came back from office!! She asked the maid to get rid of it before she lost her mind!

Sunaina could not take it any longer. She realised that if this was what Sumit wanted.. she would step out of his life.. it would be simpler for both of them.. There was no point in pretending.

She just hoped that unlike her, at-least he would get what he hoped for. With that last thought, she took the rest of her sleeping pills.

—————

He had promised Sunaina that he would never meet her again.. but this was an emergency.. Prerna’s dad just had a stroke. Some good samaritans rushed him to the hospital. Luckily he had Sumit’s card in his pocket and so Sumit rushed to Prerna’s house to get her to the hospital. But as he approached her house, he was surprised to see his maid in her doorway.

“You haven’t paid me for the last time either when I placed the envelope.. and now, I even planted the scarf as you wanted, I have done whatever you asked for. Now give me the money that you promised.”

“Did she recognize my scarf”

“I think so.. she asked me to throw it out”

A satisfied smile came to Prerna’s face.. Things were going according to her plan..

Realisation struck Sumit when he finally understood that his wife had been telling the truth all along! Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that Prerna.. his best friend could do this… she was such a sweet girl.. what the hell happened to her?

But he had no time to think about Prerna now.. he had to go back to Sunaina.. She was his life!

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Turning point

Rachana checked her phone for the tenth time in the last five minutes. The signal strength showed that the phone had full coverage. “Stupid phone.. ” she muttered.

She had butterflies in her stomach. She did not remember feeling so jittery ever.. Rachana thanked Tanvi mentally, for reminding her of her love, her passion. Had it not been for Tanvi she would never have applied for the job interview.

The last couple of months had completely changed her life. It all started with the little strip tuning blue. She was overjoyed. They had been trying to conceive for the last few months and here it was!.. Lots of celebrations ensued. Both sets of parents could not hide their excitement at the arrival of the newest member of the family. And then at the baby’s naming ceremony, she met Tanvi.

This was the first time Rachana had seen her best friend since school. She reminisced about those times.. Tanvi liked to sing, and Rachana liked to paint. Rachana could share her feelings so easily with Tanvi. The freedom that painting gave her, the joy she experienced after.. somehow, Tanvi was the one who could understand her and identify with her. Tanvi was an artist too just like her. Her parents never understood why the girl loved painting so much. But then they didn’t stop her either since she did quite well in her school exams and that was enough for them.

And then it was time for her board exams and her parents made her stop all the “distractions” and focus on studies. She was sad and heartbroken.. but she was a good kid.. an obedient one.. She had never gone against her parents wishes, she assumed that they knew what they were saying, and it could only be for her own good, and so she put her energies into studying instead. She thought she would get back to painting after the exams.. but that never happened. After the tenth boards came twelfth boards…her parents decided she must go for engineering – afterall that was the “in” profession. She would earn a decent amount and could live independently. They were proud of their girl. During all this somewhere down the line her passion – painting – got locked somewhere.. and she completely forgot all about its existence until that day.

When she and Tanvi sat down for a chat after all the ceremonies were done with, she came to know that Tanvi was now a singer. She did live shows and part time RJing, only until her album came out, Tanvi assured her. Rachana could still see the passion in Tanvi’s eyes. She suddenly felt jealous. She was rendered speechless when Tanvi asked her what she was upto the last couple of years. She felt ashamed of telling her that she had betrayed her love. But she did nonetheless. She also gushed out how jealous she felt seeing that Tanvi had managed to live up and continue doing what her heart told her. Tanvi heard her out, calmed her down and explained to her, it was not too late. She could help her. It was through Tanvi’s contacts that Rachana found out about an opportunity to work with an advertising firm as a graphic designer.

Rachana’s family and friends were completely against her idea. They felt that the baby was the most important priority at this time.. How could she be so selfish and think only about herself. According to them, she could follow her passion later.. when the baby was old enough. But she had enough of listening to her parents.. not doing what she really wanted to do. This was it. She was going to apply for the position. She would manage the baby fine.. thankfully her husband understood her, and had promised to stand by her with whatever decision she took.
—————

The sound of the phone ringing interrupted her day dreaming..

“Hello is this Rachana?”

“Yes, speaking ”

“Hi Rachana. I am calling about the job interview you gave the last week for XYZ. I am very sorry to inform you that we cannot offer you the job at this moment. The lack of experience turned out to be a deal breaker.”

“Oh”

“However, our panel was pretty impressed with your interview and if you really want to join the company, we can offer you a Trainee position. You will be evaluated after 6 months and if you show promise, we can take it further.”

“Thank you for the offer. I need some time to think. I’ll let you know by the end of the day.”

She shut her eyes for a moment. She thought it would be a tough decision. Giving up a high paying IT job for a trainee position ? People would call her a fool. For others it would have been a no-brainer. But then she was not like them.

It was surprisingly easy for her. She opened her laptop and started typing out her resignation letter.

She looked fondly at her baby.. Both of them were starting a new life, and it was going to be one heck of a journey!

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Rose!

He sat next to her in class in standard four.
“Can I copy from your book, I can’t read from the blackboard due to a window reflection”. That was how she started talking to him. He was the first guy she actually liked.

Ever since that day, he was her hero. Liking was more like an understatement. She worshiped him. He was the class topper, the joker, and overall the most popular guy in her class. She was a complete opposite. She was shy and reserved, and had a few close friends. She liked to dream – them having a future together – magical. She would love to imagine them getting married when they got older. And then she would surprise him by confessing, “I fell in love with you the day I sat next to you in class”. Oh how she would love to see the expression on his face when she told him that. Despite having such strong feelings, she always felt shy while talking to him. She just looked at him wistfully as he shared jokes with his friends in class, never daring to join in the fun.

She thanked her stars for getting them both in the same college. But they were drifting apart. They never were very good friends to begin with. But with college, they saw each other even less frequently.

“Rose day! that’s when you should drop him a hint. Otherwise he’ll never even notice you, silly” Her best friend suggested.

Actually expressing feelings was completely out of character for her. She was terrified. But even she felt, she had to do something about the situation.

“Hey, you know who I saw near the flower shop?”
“That Diya, she follows you with puppy eyes all around.”
“Let her, as if I care. Is she stupid or something? Has she looked at herself in the mirror? Anyway, I think I should be out of her sight for a while. Would be bad for my image if people knew she gave me a rose!”

The rose fell down from her hands as she cried silent tears. She could not believe her ears. They hadn’t noticed her, but she had heard every single word of that conversation. How she wished, she had never sat next to him in the first place. She wouldn’t have had to hear all this. Atleast now she knew.

He tiptoed in her window, and kept the flower by her table. He hoped she would know who it was from, in any case, he kept a page from his notebook from fourth standard, just in case 😉

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“Why does she get to tell me what to do! I am not used to this” she fumed.

“Please humor her, she is my mom after-all. And we do live in a joint family everybody has to do their part of the chores. Why are you being so selfish?”. He could not understand her. Was she the same person he had fallen in love with a couple of months earlier. It was not as if his mom had dumped all the household chores on her, she just asked her to help her out a little bit. Chores that would hardly take 30-45 minutes of Priya’s time. He had seen everyone in the house do their shares chores everyday since childhood, and couldn’t get why Priya found it so hard.

“I am not used to doing chores. My parents never asked me to, why can’t you just hire a maid or something. I work for 10-12 hours everyday, then why am I still expected to chip in with the chores?”. She was extremely frustrated. Apart from the chores she also resented that according to their joint house traditions – her husband gave all his salary to his dad, and he would get pocket-money – like a kid. She wished they could stay alone, just the two of them, with no one else to bother them with petty things like chores.

“We’ll discuss this later, right now both of us are getting late for work, let’s go”. He avoided the topic as usual.

———–

At work too she was distracted by their morning conversation. Plus, she was feeling a little queasy. She assumed it was due to the road-side pani-puris she had gorged on after work yesterday. She felt a little faint and suddenly fell down.

When she opened her eyes, she found her MIL sitting beside her, gently sponging her head with ice-cold water. Tears welled up in her eyes, as she realised how wrong she had been in judging the lady. She knew her MIL had problems with her knees and it would not have been easy commuting so far to her office. In fact MIL did not even come out of the house, if she could help it, since there were some problem with the lift of their building for the last two days, and she would find it extremely painful to go up and down the stairs.

“How long have you been here?”

“Ssh, you should just rest for a while. You had a bad case of food poisoning, you had fainted at work, and your colleagues called at home. The doctor just checked on you and he gave some medicines, but your fever wasn’t subsiding. So I thought maybe this would help. You don’t worry about a thing now, ok? I am here for you.”

And she went back to sleep, with a warm fuzzy feeling, assured that she now had not one but two Moms.

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