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Lies, lies and more lies

I finish preparing lunch and hurry to set the table. Apart from my ‘professional’ work I knew I had the job of convincing.

When I had opened the fridge to see what I could cook that day, i had found only bitter gourd. Looking out I saw a blazing sun. Not wanting to go out to buy vegetables, I made a curry of bitter-gourd.

My sister-in law (sil) came down to eat, saw what was cooked and made a face.  But I was ready.

Me: ‘Don’t make a face eat it’

She- ‘Eww’

Me- ‘I read that Kareena drinks a glass of bitter-gourd juice everyday. And that is the secret of her glowing skin’

So saying I leave the place.

Son is busy watching some cartoon. I ask him to have lunch.

He-‘What have you made today’ and then when I tell him, he makes a face too.

Me-‘Popeye likes it’

He-‘Popeye likes spinach’

Me-(hurriedly thinks of alternates)- ‘Sorry Spiderman eats it, thats how he can spin huge webs’

He-‘Who said so?’

Me: ‘read it somewhere’

He : “where did you read?’

Me:  ( in a loud voice):’Now are you interrogating me? Am I supposed to answer you?

 

Hubby comes and sits for the meal a bit late. And sees that there is only a bit left of the bitter-gourd curry. Now being a fan of bitter-gourd, he is disappointed.

Hubby: Only this much?

Me: Yes everyone liked it so much, eat it, it has come out well today.

* fictitious

Cocoon (continued)

The beginning

Sneha felt safe now for Sujay. Happy that he got to see his grandparents; happy that he had family. And she??

Little things bothered her. But were they really little? Like now Sujay had become stubborn. It was difficult to discipline him. he knew that if Mamma did not give him chocolates, granny would. If mamma did not take him out on weekdays Grandpa would. And the fact that she felt that she always under surveillance.

If she was dressed up well,’So did you have a party at office?’

IF she was making something elaborate at home ‘Are you expecting guests?’

Little things that irked her. Was she becoming paranoid or had she become accustomed to a ‘free’ life.

So on Thursday evening her m-i-l looks all perked up. ‘Have dinner with us tomorrow, we have guests ‘.

‘Sure, I wil  come early to help you.’

‘No, not a problem but do dress nicely and come’

Now that sets alarm bells ringing and she gently probes the matter. Then she comes to know that some old acquaintance is coming with her son who has had a divorce too which means that her ex in-laws are match making. Which makes her angry, very angry.

‘Did I ever tell you that I wanted to marry again?’

‘No, you didn’t. But what about your future, Sujay needs a father’

‘I can take care of myself very well, thank you. And I can be both mother and father for Sujay’.

‘And what about your physical needs’, she retorts.

‘For a moment she is stumped but then says, ‘Your son has destroyed all my dreams and my needs’, and walks away.

Later her f-i-l visits her and Sneha says she regrets her behaviour but she does not like such interference. He says he understands but then tells his and his wife’s story.

‘We were married very young and lived in a joint family. i did not know how to behave and bossed over her but she obeyed. Rarely were we allowed to talk, rarely did we go out. When she miscarried continuously for three times, she was rebuked by all and I could not do anything about it. Luckily I got a job offer in another city and I moved out with her. Luckily we were blessed with a son after ten long years of marriage. And we spoilt him by giving him whatever he asked for, never asking anything from him. Never giving him any responsibility, never making him responsible. Today we realise our mistakes and we see your loneliness. So we thought if you could get a partner and if you had another child then all problems would be solved. You would have a partner and if you had another child, Sujay would learn to share.’

Sneha was dumbfounded at the revelation. And then said, ‘I have learnt to live alone. There is no need for a partner to dissolve loneliness. Sometimes even with a marriage and a husband, a woman is alone. I agree that an only child can be sometimes selfish but there can be solutions  to that’

‘What solutions’, he asked.

She thought and then said what had always been in her heart, ‘I always wanted a daughter, I will adopt a girl and then my cocoon will be complete’, she said and smiled. Finally she felt at peace with herself

Some lessons learnt

I took out one hand from under the quilt and checked the time on my mobile; *8oo hours it read. I jumped out and ran out but by then Avi had left. And then call it loneliness or my hormones acting up; I held the cushion and cried. Maybe it was middle age advancing upon me or something else; I was feeling very lonely nowadays.

I, Meera Mohanty am a photo journalist. Forever on the move with my camera for the last 10 years. I had met Avinash a marketing professional in new Delhi AIrport, fell in love and had got married seven years back. For those seven years we had lived together for maybe only two. Rest of the time we met via video calls and otherwise. Sometimes I felt I was wedded to Skype.

My work satisfied me both financially as well as my creativity. But something was missing. I looked at our home and tried to see through what was wrong. The room was big, airy, the furniture posh. Big windows that invited sunshine, everything was perfect, then what was wrong?

 

By ten I had manged to control my emotions and started on my work. Recently back from an assignment, I had lots of editing to do. The telephone rang just then.

‘Hello’

‘Hi M.M its me Neha. Listen my father had a fall and I am going with him in the ambulance to the hospital. Chikku will be back from his nursery at about 11.15, can you please pick him up and look after him till I return. Please don’t say no. I don’t have any other option, his regular baby sitter is down with flu. Please…..’, and the line was disconnected.

I sat down in shock. Am I equipped enough for a child in the house? Chikku is not the bratty types but will I be able to handle it? And then I ran to look if I had any biscuits/chips in the house. By the time I shopped and got what all I thought was necessary it was time for Chikku to arrive.

The bus attendant did not know me and was not ready to leave Chikku in my care. A hurried call to Neha resolved the matter and then we proceeded home. I gave him some juice and chips switched on the TV, put some cartoon and got busy with my work.

‘M.M…?’

‘Yes, do you want more chips?’

‘No. Will nana die like papa?’

My heart melted when I heard this question. Chikkus father had died about a year back.

I went and sat near him and said, ‘No dear he has had a fall and now the Doctors are trying to put the bones of his leg right.’ I did not know how to explain in a better way to a four-year old.

‘Then he will play with me like he used to?’

I hoped that he would at least he would for Chikku’s sake and I nodded a yes.

After some time, he was feeling sleepy but he said,’M.M. don’t you eat in the afternoon, I am hungry’

‘But you just had chips…’

‘But that is not khana’

I was in a quandary. I either ordered a deli or just had a sandwich.’Shall I order a pizza’, I thought that he would jump at this suggestion.

‘Mamma says that it is junk food.’

‘So what do you want to eat?’

‘mmm, Some parathas with aloo sabji’.

 

I managed to make some aloo sabji and parathas. But when I served him, he said,’M.M, you don’t know to cook,do you?’

‘I know to cook but why do you ask?’

‘None of the parathas are same….One is square, one is alien….’

I looked at the one he called alien and alien it was. It could not be classified into square or circle or any other shape.

‘I will have the alien, you have the square’, I said in exasperation.

And when he wanted to take a nap, he wanted to hold my hand and sleep. Maybe he was insecure but I liked it. Somehow it made me feel secure too. And memories of younger days came flooding by. Of a close-knit family, of siblings, of cherished moments and my eyes filled over. And I picked my mobile and spoke to my sis. It was an emotional call, some five years back we had stopped talking over some misunderstanding but today we wiped away those distances.

I abandoned all thoughts of finishing my work and just spent time with Chikku. evening we went to play in the park and then to homework and story time. He taught me to cook, I taught him to Paint on the comp. It was late when Neha arrived and Chikku had already slept.

‘It is ok, Neha, let him sleep here today’

‘But your work?’, she asked with surprise in her voice and eyes.

‘It is ok, let him be with me’

Neha explained that her brother would arrive the next morning and after that she would be free.

‘Its alright take as much time as you want’

Two days of learning, two days of self discovery.

And when Neha took Chikku away she did not know whom to console, him or me.

I had not wanted a baby, the nine months of carrying a baby in the womb, caring for the baby, the responsibility, all were not worth it, I had thought. Was I ready for it, I did not know, yet.

But yes I knew what I wanted. I wanted to make this house a home. Avi would be returning next morning. We had to be a family and not just living in the same house. It was love, caring and sharing that was missing in this house and it had taken a four-year old to teach me that. Silly me, indeed.

*fictitious

J & J-expect the unexpected

Previously the why and the how

———————————————————–

When Jassy had said yes to Aunty, she had expected that adjustment would be easy. Her mother and aunty had been good friends and she remembered going to aunty’s house, playing with Jatin etc. And so she thought it would be easy but no. Is living with any person easy? No.  Particularly with a perfectionist like Jatin. Everything had to be perfect. The food that was cooked, the home, ambience, clothes, everything. For a person like Jassy it was difficult.  She was not that organized in anything. She was vivacious, Jatin was the strong silent types.

And the major problem was that both were not ready to accept and adjust. Two vital characteristics that is most important in a marriage.

Jatin would come home from work expecting the home to be spick and span. Dinner would be ready, the house dirty and Jassy busy chatting on the net.

Weekends Jassy would be all excited expecting that Jatin would take her out but he would go and start washing the car, then polishing it etc.

And so when Shaku Aunty returned she got a shock at the state of affairs. She could see that even after two months they were strangers living under one roof.

And she was devastated. After Jatin’s marriage she had hoped that she would now at least look after her needs and her interests but she realised that her job was not yer over. She could not take retirement, no, not yet.

‘Jatin’, she said one day while going out on her walk, ‘come with me.’

‘But ma, I have some work…’

‘You can do it later’.

And then she gave him the talk which should have been given before marriage and if possible by the father.

‘Jatin did you get married just because you wanted a maid for yourself, no, don’t say anything now, just listen. You have to learn to be a friend a partner for your life. You need to talk, spend time with her, look at her needs too…..’

‘But ma, I cannot tolerate that she is so disorganized. She just likes to have fun always, which is not always possible and really, she talks so much.’

‘She is immature Jatin and young too. She will improve, I will groom her.’

And groom she had too; not only Jassy but  her son too. Bu there was a major problem both knew what  and why she was doing and both were not ready for that. Both were not ready to change

Meanwhile Jatin got an overseas offer. He was to go to Italy but Jassy  had college.

‘Ma, come with me?’

‘What about Jassy?’, asked Aunty.

‘She can come with us or if her studies are important, she can stay here’.

‘She will stay here and I will stay here too’

‘But why…………’

‘When she got married to you Jatin, I accepted her into my life as a daughter. She may have many imperfections but still she is a person with a loving heart and clear conscience. Without her parents around, it is my responsibility to look after her. Not that she cannot manage alone but it is my duty to look after her. And while both of you will be far off, check if you really need each other in your lives, if not get separated’.

‘Huh?’

‘Yes, there is no need to carry on with an unwanted relationship.’

And so Jatin went on to Italy while Jassy and Aunty remained back to build a new future.

To accept

I sipped my tea and glanced sidelong at Anubha. She sat with her cup, in her own world, ignoring me and my presence.

Her husband Sudesh came in with a ‘Hiya darling’, and for a moment there was a flicker of joy in her eyes.

I did not like Sudesh. I like macho men, no, not really but I like those dependable men who act and behave as men. Sudesh’s mannerisms are effeminate. His walk, his talk, everything. And I can’t digest the fact that my best friend agreed to marry this person. Well it is a long time now since they got married-fifteen years in fact and …..

‘You have never liked him, isn’t it?”, Anubha asked me. Obviously she had read my face. Anubha and me have been friends ever since I remember and both of us can read each others expressions very well.

‘No, nothing like that’, I mumbled.

‘Don’t lie to me, Sukriti, you may be a Doctor but I know you’

Sudesh came in again and said,’Anu, I have a meeting and will be coming in late but you have your dinner and sleep, Ok?’

I was looking for a way to escape.

‘Anu, I will leave now, have to make some notes’, I said

‘But you said, you were free today’

Yes, but….’

‘No, I won’t let you leave. With a lot of courage I have decided to tell you everything and I am not letting you go now’.

My heart sank. I have heard worst marital stories but when it concerns your own loved ones, you need a mountain of courage.

‘Nobody knows my secret other than my mom and of course Sudesh but you know I am not able to face you because you have been my chum always and I do not like to hide things from you. It was Sudesh who said that I should tell you everything and that then I will be at peace with myself.’

I was at my wit’s end, did not know what to say and what to expect.

Anu carried on, Do you remember that I was going steady with a guy in college.

I nodded a yes

‘We were so much in love. After our B.Sc final year exams, he came in one day, met my mother, asked my hand in marriage. My mother agreed. He was handsome, belonged to a good family, would be joining his father’s business and there was no cause for worry. With no male member at home to search out matches for me, she agreed for the best one available.    One day he took me to the old fort  on his bike.’

She carried on,’I was very happy that day but little did I know what was in store for me.’

I sat motionless, too afraid to know what happened further.

‘Four of his friends were already there. I suppose you can understand what happened next’.

Again I nodded.

They left me home battered, bruised. We went to the police station to lodge a complaint but halfway we returned home.

‘Why?’, I asked.

‘There was no point Sukriti. They were powerful people. I had to think of my mom and my younger sister too. But even without lodging a complaint we were stalked, threatened and my sis was followed to her school and back.

Finally we decided to relocate to another city’

‘And all this happened when you had not kept contact with me for 3-5 years’, I said.

‘Yes’, she said, ‘We went to another city, I found a job but I had lost my faith in humanity. Sudesh was a colleague there. Because of his mannerisms, he was made fun off and many actually asked him, whether he was gay. But he would just smile and carry on with his work. One day I came to know that his family had approached my mom for my hand.’

‘Then’, I asked.

‘I refused but  then one day he cornered me and asked for the reason of my refusal ‘

‘What did you say’, I asked.

‘Initially I did not say anything but then when he asked me whether my refusal was because of his mannerisms, I had to tell the truth’.

‘Then?’ I asked. My curiosity was at its peak.

‘When he had heard me he had tears in his eyes, he just took my hands and said-We can’t change the past but let us make a beautiful future. From that moment on he has been true to his words. He has made each day special. Even when he came to know that I can never be a mother, even though he knows that I can never trust anyone fully ever, still he is always by my side.’

‘Tell me Sukriti, what is important? Is it important that a person’s looks and mannerisms conform to our standards or that a person stands true to his words.

I sat mulling. Ashamed of my own prejudices and behavior.

 

This is fiction and is not related to any person

Travel Tales IV

We were going on for our Annual Vacation in the summer of 2005. The trip originally planned for August had been rescheduled for June end. That year was the first time post surgery and we were apprehensive. I was due for a complete overhaul 😀

The only tickets that were available to Hyderabad were in the Air India Express.  And we took it. I don’t remember much about the happenings at the Bahrain Airport; we were that tense. The flight reached Mumbai around 11.30 p.m. and our connecting flight was at 2a.m By 4 we were supposed to reach Hyderabad. Around 1.30 a.m we boarded the flight to Hyd. and waited and waited. It was raining outside and freezing inside.. Because fo the difference in temperatures, tiny droplets of moisture started forming on the ‘walls’ and eventually started falling on us. The crew was busy with themselves. Neither the heater was put on nor any blankets were given.

We waited like that till 6 am.

The flight was like a pick up. The passengers of Air India who were coming from different parts of the world and traveling to Hyderabad were hauled into our flight. The flight eventually was full and then it took off.

My neurosurgeon had kept the day free for me. You know how busy these super-specialists are. I had to meet him that day itself and already our flight had been delayed. My brother had come for the day from Vizag to tide things over for us. He was waiting for us at the airport..

The flight eventually reached at 8a.m. By the time we cleared customs and immigration, we expected our baggage to arrive. The baggage had indeed arrived but it was the baggage of travelers bound for Chennai. (Our flight had proceeded to Chennai) Yes. our baggage was bound for Chennai.

I just had my handbag and another small bag containing magazines, sweater etc. The bag containing my lab reports, medical file, MRI had all left for Chennai. We did not even have a change of clothes.

My brother called up the Doctor and explained our predicament. He asked us to report to the hospital immediately, make a new file and proceed for MRI, as the Lab had been kept free for me. So I went ahead for my check ups.

We had given our contact details to Air India and they were supposed to call us as soon as the luggage arrived. But when there was no call till 2p.m, we proceeded to the Airport. We came to know that the baggage had arrived but the guard would not allow us to go inside. We pleaded, we showed him our tickets, the baggage claim form  but no, he would not allow us inside.Obviously he needed some ‘chai paani’.

That was it; we went to the Officer In-charge of the Airport Authority of India, (barged actually) and told him about what all happened. Other passengers too came and stood with us. Observing the crowd he got up and escorted us to the Carousel where our baggage was thrown. Our bags were wet and dirty but at-least we had got back our bags.

From that moment on, I always carry my valuables with me.

After two days of check ups and being told that allz well,we boarded the tain to Vizag. My brother had already left the previous night. That night we slept peacefully, without bothering for food or comforts.

I was awakened by a phone call by my brother the next morning, ‘I can see your train’, he said. We were supposed to get down at a station called Duvvada, a small station where the train stops for just 2 minutes, a stop which is quite close to the Steel township of Vizag.

I shook my husband awake, removed the chain. As soon as the train chugged in to the station, He threw the bags onto the platform, pushed me out and then jumped out himself. My father standing some steps away could not understand what had actually happened 😛

Travel Tales III

I was studying in First Year B.Com at Mysore. Dussehra holidays were about to begin and I was very excited. It was the first time I would be visiting Vizag, my brother was working there and it was the first time I would be commanding him to pay my bills 🙂

Since it was the first time I was traveling to Vizag, My father came to accompany me, we went to Vizag had a glorious time. I was fascinated by the beaches of Vizag, the shopping, the food everything.

My father again accompanied me on the return and the whole time he would give me tutorials of which stations were on the way, the local dialect, how to handle people etc because the next time onwards I was supposed to travel alone.

SO it was fun until we reached Bangarpet. Now Bangarpet is the first stop in Karnataka and is about 71 km from Bangalore. We were supposed to board another train to Mysore from Bangalore. But the train remained stationed in Bangarpet. Afer about 2 hours, there was an announcement that because a train had derailed somewhere ahead, so this train would not continue till Bangalore but for the convenience of the passengers some buses were arranged, which would in sometime reach the station.

It was already 9p.m. There was panic, no food or water. Somehow people managed to collect their bags and make a queue.

There was a girl in her 20s who was working in Bangalore coming from Kolkata who had about 12 bags and not a porter in sight. No one came to help her either. We went and stood in queue. My father made me stand there and returned to pick her bags, then I went and brought some bags and so on until all her bags were in the queue.

But when the buses arrived, there was no queue to be seen. People just pushed and shoved to get a seat. We along with the girl finally managed to get seats in the last bus.

We reached Bangalore Railway station around 2.30 a.m and went and sat in the waiting room. We were thirsty and hungry but there was nothing to be had, We managed the night on some peanuts which my father always carries when he travels. The cafeteria opened at 5 a.m after which we had some food and boarded a train to Mysore.

Needless to say I was never allowed to travel alone in that route. Papa always said that what will you do if something like that happens again and nobody comes to help you, the way it happened with the girl.

Are you curious to know about the girl?

Well the girl got down from the bus, as soon as the bus entered Bangalore without even a Bye or a Thank you.