The Right To My Life [#Shortlisted]

Everyone around them couldn’t stop raving about her – the sacrificing, strong mother who held up everything just fine all by herself amidst a sudden storm.

Everyone around them couldn’t stop raving about her – the sacrificing, strong mother who held up everything just fine all by herself amidst a sudden storm.

‘Hello, yeah hi Ma, can you hear me now? Couldn’t reach you for the past two days. Got really worried,’ said a finally relieved Sia after several attempts to reach her mother.

A curt but firm voice replied, ‘I’m fine. Did you reach on time? Lost my phone, got a new one now.’

‘I did, yes,’ she told her.

The customary conversation was followed by an awkward silence of what felt like forever.

‘Okay, so sleep well. Call you later,’ said Sia.

‘Wait, Sia. We cannot avoid the topic forever,’ said Aruna, her mother.

‘Ma, please. I cannot talk right now. Bye,’ she hung up.

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Even if that abrupt click hurt Aruna, she knew it wasn’t unexpected. The past week had been hard on both of them, after Sia and her husband Tarun paid Aruna a surprise visit, only to find an unexpected dweller there – Amit. It was bad enough that they had to find out like this about him, which cut their week-long visit 6 days shorter.

They could never understand what Aruna and Amit had for each other, the way no one else did – 30 years ago. Both of them were in the same college and had feelings which went much beyond friendship for each other. However, owing to family and societal pressure, they could never really confess it. After all, it hurts much more to lose something after getting it, as opposed to never having it at all.

Both of them moved on without ever looking back. Aruna got married and had Sia after a few years. Everything was in place until one fine day, her husband announced he can no longer feign his love for her, for there wasn’t any. He met someone much younger at work and thought it would be the best for both of them to get separated.

Needless to say, her world was turned upside down. But it left her very little time to do what people expected her to do the most – mourn her wrecked relationship and absence of her husband. There was a lot to do – get a job, stay strong amidst social stigma, and most important yet difficult of all – being a single mother to an eight-year-old Sia. It took her three harrowing years but she came out of it much determined and much stronger. Both of them had woven their world around each other and little Sia’s questions about her father’s whereabouts started to lessen as she grew up.

Soon, Aruna was being hailed as the perfect mother. Everyone around them couldn’t stop raving about her – the sacrificing, strong mother who held up everything just fine all by herself amidst a sudden storm. And much to Aruna’s displeasure, Sia had grown fond of basking in the society’s version of her mother’s admiration. Years passed and after her share of struggles and heartbreaks, Sia found and liked someone enough to be her life partner. Sia had already moved out for higher studies and job four years ago but this felt different. After lots of tears and reassurances, she went away.

Gradually, Sia’s calls started getting fewer and Aruna suddenly didn’t know what to do with all the time which was earlier consumed by Sia. She started making time for herself – made herself a to-do and to-visit and jotted down everything she once loved doing had she had a normal life. She didn’t know that an innocuous visit to a public library one day will completely turn her life around, where she met Amit. It’s not every day that you run into your first love after decades!

Hesitant at first, they started going out for coffee, and then having dinners together, until one day Amit said, ‘You know, I’d love to pick up from where we left – going out for dates and dinners – but at this point of time, our age and the doctor’s prescription doesn’t exactly allow me to eat out this often.’ They both had a hearty laugh. He said, ‘Why don’t you come over to my place sometime? I’ll cook you a fabulous homemade meal.’

Amit did not get married. He asked her to spare him the ‘why’, as he himself did not have an answer, except, ‘I never felt like it.’ And one thing led to another and they decided they had missed out on enough and moved in together at Aruna’s home.

Unfortunately, even before she could tell Sia about him, everything got jeopardised in a whirlwind after Sia’s visit. Aruna could see numerous questions and shock on her deeply mortified face.

She finally decided to give her a call despite her daughter’s resistance. She picked up after four rings.

‘Ma, I told you…’

‘Listen to me. You don’t have to pretend to love or respect me if you are offended by the first thing I decided to do for myself. I have never cared about the society and stopped you from doing anything that makes you happy. If my relationship causes damage to my perfect mother tag, so be it. There’s no need for a guilt trip for any of us here. You are free to do whatever you feel like and so am I. I only want to tell you that I’ll always love you and hope that you’ll understand me one day. But if the social pressure gets the better of you, I’ll not cause any embarrassment to you. Take care.’

She gave a sigh and a brief smile to Amit, who stood there to comfort her with a hug.

Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the November 2017 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.

Image source: pexels

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Erratic scribbler. Late bloomer. Old soul in a millenial's body. Constantly torn between changing the norms and getting out of bed to do so! read more...

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