Niyati sat with her cup of coffee, brooding. The rest of the family was out and she had deliberately opted to sit at home, because she wanted to think in peace.
She had been 20 when her father had had an accident and lost his right hand. Though the factory had continued to employ him after compensating him, life had changed after that. She had taken the role of the ‘master’ of the family. Earning, planning, organizing had been her domain since then. Her siblings were her prime focus and her own life took a backseat. Whenever an alliance came for her, she made it clear that after marriage her family too would be her priority. The fact that she was plain and that she was not earning very well added to the complexities and she remained unmarried.
By the time her siblings were settled, she was 35,her father had passed away and she and her mother carried on with their lives. Along with the job she volunteered in the orphanage and at the nearby temple. Both these places were also visited by an elderly lady Mrs. Mohan. Both of them began bonding due to their common interests and then one day Mrs. Mohan met her mother and asked for Niyatis hand for her son.
It so happened that her son Ravi was her colleague in office, a very gentle, soft-spoken, broad-minded person. But he was a widower, 15 years her senior and had a daughter Komal-11 years old.
Niyati had no hesitation to say yes to Ravi but she was worried whether she would be a good mother to Komal. But Mrs. Mohan insisted that she would be, she had seen Niyati mothering orphans so would she not be able to mother her step daughter and then she dropped the bombshell, she had Bone cancer and did not have more time to live, before that she wanted to see the child belong to her mother.
Niyati came to the present. It was almost 6 months to the marriage. She had settled in her home, her mother in law did not have much time left but Komal had not accepted her as her own.
Niyati hated all the stories of stepmoms-Cinderella and all which portrayed a stepmother as evil. People were no better. Relatives, neighbours had all told Komal to ‘beware’ of her new mother.
Time was running out but was there a way out?
Just then the door opened with a thud and Komal came in panting, ‘Dadi had a fall, pappa took her to the hospital’ and began sobbing. Niyati went ahead and hugged her but she pushed her aside. Hurt she did not do anything but braced herself for the coming events.
Sometime later she heard Komal talking to herself,’Maa left me, now Dadi and next will be Pappa, everyone leaves me,’ she was shaking and crying with her knees hugging her chest and moving back and forth.
Niyatis mind raced was this the reason why Komal was rejecting her, because she did not want to get attached to anybody?
She went ahead and sat near her and said’ Komal if there is anything in this world which is not in our control, it is death. Your maa died in a road accident, if your dadi did not have cancer would she be immortal? No, she might have died anyways. We take birth, we grow and we die, this is the cycle of life. Just because we will die one day or because one of our loved one died, can we stop living? No we don’t. We try to make life as beautiful as possible, not only for us and for ones who are ours.’
After saying so, she got up to leave the room when she added, ‘Komal maybe I cannot replace your mother but can’t I be your friend?’
It was then Komal looked at her through a tear strained face and gave a smile.
‘Ah a beginning’, thought Niyati, but was it? Only time would tell