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No failed relationship is worth remaining trapped in an unfeeling, mechanical void. A short story.
The alarm rang at 10.15 a.m. “It’s time for my salad! I have to finish this presentation before lunch today,” Meera muttered to herself.
“Ma’am, the new girl is here, for the interview.” It was Charlotte on the phone. “Wait until 10.30, ok?”
“Yes, Ma’am, Thank you.” Meera tried to rush through the power point slide while eating the salad. Soon the interviewee was sitting across the table from her.
“So during the training period, the experience you acquire will be your only remuneration, is that fine for you?” Meera asked trying to dissuade the candidate.
“Of course, Ma’am, I am here because I have a dream. To be an inspiration to all, just like you. I want to be like you,” The rookie smiled enthusiastically.
“Ok, we will let you know our decision, Good Luck!”
Meera curled into the duvet trying to catch some sleep.
Thick silence. Just the sound of the clock ticking.
She was disturbed after meeting the girl she had interviewed that day.
She pressed the pillow on her ears as if to shut the words down—“I want to be like you!” The girl’s innocent comment was buzzing in her head.
“I was exactly like you, girl, innocent and ambitious!” – She wanted to shout out.
She closed her eyes. Her whole life flashed in front of her.
Choked in desolation, she reflected on each step in her journey to success, the sacrifices she had put in to fulfill her dreams. Today, she was all alone in her dream home.
Sometime during the wee hours, she slept.
Next day, she reached her office a bit early. As she stepped in, she heard Charlotte talking on the phone.
“I don’t know, dear. I am too tied up here. She is a time-monster, won’t let me leave early.”
Meera suddenly turned and hurried back to her car. Then she drove away as if in trance. She stopped at Marine Drive. The whole stretch was almost empty.
She frantically opened an old bag that was on the back seat, took out a photo and started sobbing. It was of her 8 year old son.
“What have I done? Where am I heading to in my life?” She cried out, covering her face with her palm.
For a second, she thought she should finish this foolish drama called life. The sea was before her. Suddenly, she heard a knock at the window.
“Madam, khilouna lelo, madam (Please buy the toys,madam),” She raised her eyes.
A woman with weary eyes was looking at her with hope. “meri beti ki school fee ke liye hai, khareedo na, madam… (I need to pay for my daughter’s school fee, please buy this, Madam)”
She bought one toy and gave her a few notes. “Madam, this is too much money. I don’t have change,” Meera heard her saying. But she drove off waving to her.
She stopped the car in front of a boarding school.
The hostel warden was not very happy seeing her, as it was not visitor’s hour. But she waited.
Finally, she saw him coming from the other end of the corridor. Her son, a cute little boy in his school uniform. She hugged him and tears rolled down from her eyes.
“How are you my dear?” She asked- But he was silent, as if startled to see her crying.
“Your dad visits you?”
“Yes. Mom, do you know, yesterday he told me, he will bring a new mom”.
Her heart skipped a beat.
“Ok, let us go home now.”
As she was buckling the seat belt, she said- “Beta, now I won’t leave you anywhere. We will live together. I am sorry for keeping you away. I need you. We both together can take care of everything.”
She gave him the toy which she had bought from the street. “Mom, you bought this!! Isn’t this the same cheap toy! You used to scold me when I ask to buy this before……”
She didn’t say anything.
That night she slept well, hugging her bundle of joy.
Meera’s mother was oiling her hair. “Finally, you got time for us!” Her mom said plainly.
“Amma, I don’t know what had happened to me. I wanted to conquer everything, to prove to those men who treated me disagreeably for being a woman.”
“Don’t bother, my girl,” Her mom said. “We are proud of you. You are an inspiration to all women. You have rebounded beautifully from your divorce. Now just that you should not forget to enjoy your life. It is never late to change. Move on. Give time for the little pleasures of your life along with your work.”
Her mother’s reply gave Meera the strength to go on with her life and work; this time, guiltlessly, with much love and kindness.
Image source: failed relationship by Shutterstock.
A Public Relations Consultant in Dubai. Digital content creator. Cherie Blair foundation mentor alumna.
Favorite quote: "The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough." read more...
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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