Ranbeer was shocked to hear that as it was the first time Amruta has told him that she wants to do something on her own, without asking him or without tagging along with him.
Amruta was sipping her coffee at the First Class Lounge at Delhi Airport with her husband and kids while they were all talking about a funny incident that took place in the house where her one of her twin boy was caught stealing some ice cream from the fridge past midnight and she screamed as she thought it was some thief.
While laughing her eyes saw a woman in her 30’s typing something on her i pad and talking to someone on phone. She could hear her saying that she will be reaching London soon and she is all prepared for her meeting with the publishing house. She seemed to be very happy. Amruta kept on staring at her while the kids were busy having breakfast with their father. She could see how confident, content and cheerful the woman appeared to be. She felt that she was being pulled to her for some reason, but she couldn’t gather enough courage to talk to her.
The other woman somehow realised that Amruta is looking at her since long and hence she came up to her immediately and asked Amruta if she knows her. Amruta didn’t know how to react and stood up to talk to her. She introduced herself as Jhanvi and told Amruta that she is going to London as one of the renowned publishing houses had invited her to speak about her new book.
Book..!! The word stuck in Amruta’s head and she got to know from Jhanvi that she is a writer and her third book is a bestseller now and that is why she has got this call from the publishing house as they want to engage with her for some of her other write-ups, which will start with a press conference. She said hello to the kids and Amruta’s husband also while going back to her seat.
For some reason, memories started flashing in Amruta’s head about her college days…about Amritsar… about the choices she had made in her life and many more. She was still thinking when she heard the announcement for the flight boarding. She started walking towards the departure gate, still thinking about Jhanvi. After a few minutes, she found herself in the aeroplane. Coincidentally, Jhanvi was sitting next to her and greeted her with a smile.
After a few minutes, Amruta gathered some courage to ask Jhanvi if she loves writing or chose writing as an obligatory profession and asked about her journey as a writer. Jhanvi loved to talk and when it was about writing, she just poured her heart out. Sipping her champagne, Jhanvi started telling Amruta that she is from a middle-class family in Jalandhar and has studied in the same town. In her last semester at the college, her father told her that she should get married once she finishes college. She was in no mood of getting married at the age of 21 and wanted to be independent and make her own money. When she shared this with her father, she was told that since her father will be retiring in few years and he has to invest money on her brother’s education as well, he cannot spend more money on her studies.
Amruta could relate to this with the only difference that she was denied higher education even after being from a rich and renowned family of Amritsar and her father was one of the most respected people in the town. Amruta had a younger brother Akhil, whom she loved more than anything in life. Both Akhil and Amruta went to the same school and shared a lovely bond.
When she finished her college, she was supposed to get married to a rich guy, with whom she can live her life happily with financial security. Although Amruta wanted to continue with her studies further, she never expressed it to her parents as she always knew the answer. The day she finished college, she was introduced to Ranbeer’s family. Ranbeer was from a renowned business family and was assisting his father in his business. He had done his MBA from a University in London and was contributing a lot to his father’s business. He was perfect for Amruta as per her family and so she said yes.
Jhanvi continued that since she never wanted to give up on her dreams, she asked her father if she can work part-time and earn her own money and then continue to study with whatever she earns. As she was only a graduate, getting a good job was out of the question. She was managing with her little earnings but she knew that she won’t be able to survive for long and won’t be able to do a full-time course with her job. Something clicked in her mind and she started writing and editing content for one of the websites sitting at home. Since she was good at it, she started making sufficient money to do a part-time course on communication skills.
Two years later, she got a call from one of the good advertising agencies in Delhi for a full-time job at a good salary. With watery eyes, she left the town with dreams in her heart. And that was the first step towards being independent. Taking a pause, she told Amruta that she will continue after coming back from the washroom.
Amruta went back to her memory lane when she got married two months after saying yes and shifted to Delhi while her brother left for London for his further studies. They went to Singapore for their honeymoon and she simply loved every bit of the trip and started loving Ranbeer as well. Ranbeer too loved Amruta and life seemed to be good to both of them.
Ten months later, Amruta was pregnant and the entire family was filled with joy. Ranbeer was now looking after his father’s entire business and most of his time was dedicated either in office or on tours. Amruta offered help but she was not taken very seriously as she was simply a graduate and didn’t possess the required skills and business was still a man’s job in Ranbeer’s family. So Amruta usually spent her time reading some books or chatting with her in-laws. Ranbeer tried to spend as much time as he could with her and Amruta always waited for those moments with her husband. She never complained as she understood that he was doing a lot and she had grown up seeing her father working while her mother was always managing the household. She cooked at least one dish for Ranbeer herself, even after being surrounded with servants and chefs as both her mother and mother-in-law taught her that if a woman cooks good food for her husband, he will always love her and this will also bring prosperity in the house. She always waited for Ranbeer and served him dinner when he came back from office. Life seemed perfect to her.
Soon, Ranbeer and Amruta were parents of twin boys. There was happiness all around; Amruta was overjoyed and thought that her family is complete and from now onwards, she will dedicate her life to her kids. As an ideal mother, her kids will be her priority in life, no matter what.
Amruta was still in her thoughts when Jhanvi continued that after securing the job, she spent her days dedicatedly working on the projects she was given while spending a few hours after work to write her book. Months passed like this. She got promotions, changed companies and in almost four years, she owned a small apartment and a small car. Life was coming out to be good to her. She was walking on the right track to achieve her dreams.
One day after coming back from work, she was watching a movie when she thought of publishing her book. Although she was really good at writing, as everyone told her, she never thought her writing to be good enough for publishing a book of her own. She thought it to be a terrific idea but she was nervous to start working on it.
She opened some of her diaries where she had been writing in the past but she couldn’t decide her story. Then, she decided to write about her own story as she thought it to be worth it. She took out her laptop and started typing her story. And…it all started then. She completed her book in almost 6 months and thought it was ready to be published.
Something took Amruta back to memories when the kids turned seven. Amruta and Ranbeer were turning no stone unturned to fulfil their needs and demands and like most of the couples, they never got to spend some time without kids. They were either with the kids or talking about kids. Their foreign trips were also going on, as Ranbeer still loved travelling to new places and he took his family on such trips, where he used to try all his adventure activities while Amruta chose to stay back with the kids as they usually were not allowed on such adventures due to their age.
Life was going good and Amruta was a happily married woman. She loved reading books at some point in her life but now she neither had time for the books nor did she had books with her.
She learnt about Kindle from one of the coffee shops, where she saw a girl reading and thought it to be a good idea for reading when the kids are asleep and the lights are off or may when the kids are in school. She shared this with Ranbeer who told her that she will get her gift tomorrow evening. She was excited about this the entire next day and waiting for Ranbeer to return home. He was stuck in a meeting and got late from work. Amruta had lost hopes on her gift and consoled herself that he is too busy with work and she cannot expect him to bring it for her today itself. She can wait for it, she told herself.
She slept on the sofa thinking about this when she heard Ranbeer’s voice and was overjoyed see a gift box in his hand. She hugged him and told him that he is the best husband in the world. Ranbeer gave her the gift and asked if he can change so that they can have dinner together. As Ranbeer locked the washroom, Amruta opened the gift box and found a diamond necklace in the box. She was a bit surprised to see that as she had not asked for it and had too many of them in her closet.
She was still holding it in her hand when Ranbeer came and hugged her from the back. When she asked him about the gift, he kissed her on her forehead and told her that her wife deserves something expensive as a gift and not just anything. Amruta told him that she wanted a Kindle for a purpose to which Ranbeer said that he will get it for her but for now she should enjoy her diamonds as they are better suited to a woman of her age.
Amruta was shattered but she knew that it’s not Ranbeer’s fault. She had never expressed her liking for reading in the last eight years then how can she expect him to know that it was important for her now. She kept the gift inside her closet and served dinner.
She couldn’t sleep as this was the first time after her marriage that she realised what she has left behind and what she has lost in these years. The next morning, nothing changed except her self-realisation of the guilt of not being able to be herself. Everything else was a priority for her, except herself.
She was still thinking when she heard Jhanvi saying that although her first book was not a success, she didn’t give up on it and continued working on the second one. It was published and was a success. She was overjoyed and her parents were too proud of her which gave her the motivation to write her third book, which came out to be one of the best-written books. And she gathered praises from everyone. She was often invited to some of the writing contests as a judge, to many colleges for speeches and several other events. However, the biggest one is the one for which she was going now and she was too excited about it. ‘There is no stopping and no looking back now’, she said
Amruta also got to know that she is marrying her boyfriend the next year and will have a family life as well. Amruta was too impressed by her but couldn’t stop thinking about her own life. While Jhanvi slept, Amruta closed her eyes and started thinking about her life and the choices she made or to put it correctly, the choices she was forced to make.
She was not sure if she didn’t have enough courage or she was lacking inspiration at the point of time. Maybe she could have at least said it to her parents and maybe they would have allowed her to study further. Maybe she could have told her husband that she wants to share the business responsibilities with him and for that, she needs to study further. Maybe she could have continued reading books. Maybe should have spared some time for her own. May be she should have followed her heart. There were a lot of ‘maybes’ in her life now.
She had an amazing life. A life which many people would aspire to have. She had a husband who loved her; kids whom she adored and as a couple, they were able to fulfil all their desires and dreams with the money they have and at the same time had put them to the best school. But something was missing from her life which has somehow turned out to be the most important thing for her. She was missing herself.
In her big canvas of life, she could see everyone except her. Everyone seemed to be doing the things they liked to do, except her. She has time for everything, except her. She was fulfilling everyone’s dreams, except her. She was playing all the roles, except being herself. She was bothered about everything, except her. She was portraying her life to be amazing, including herself.
Thinking all of this, she went to sleep and when she woke up the plane was landing. While Jhanvi stood up to say bye to her and asked her to join her for tomorrow’s event, Amruta told her that she already has plans with her husband and kids. So, they both said goodbye and left for their destinations.
The next morning Amruta was feeling a different kind of energy in her and she couldn’t stop smiling. Ranbeer was happy to see her like that and they shared a good laugh while they were having breakfast. Ranbeer had plans to go out for some drinks with some of his friends in the evening and was going to tell Amruta about it when he heard Amruta telling him that she is going to attend a press conference regarding a new book and will see him in the evening.
Ranbeer was shocked to hear that as it was the first time Amruta has told him that she wants to do something on her own, without asking him or without tagging along with him. He tried to tell her that he already had plans to go out with his friends. But Amruta was somehow convinced that if she doesn’t go today, she will never be able to gain this strength. So, she told Ranbeer that it is important for her and she will have to go. Ranbeer was stunned to hear that and was not sure how to react. Saying this, she took her bag and headed towards the venue where Jhanvi was going to address the crowd.
But before reaching there, she bought a Kindle…for herself.
Image via Pixabay
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This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
And then, of course, the holidays and festivals were even more special. The proverbial family time, when her in- laws dropped in and she even lost whatever little of that freedom to choose and postpone.
And then, of course, the holidays and festivals were even more special. The proverbial family time, when her in- laws dropped in and she even lost whatever little of that freedom to choose and postpone.
Neeta was packing her bag at the end of another hectic day at work. As she quickly stuffed her bag and stepped on to the elevator, her mind was already on the next agenda for the day – dinner, kids, their home work, the craft project she had to help with, the morning tiffin menu to pack for…
How she wished she could jump on to a clean bed and warm herself after dinner and sleep. But no, that was a far-fetched dream! In the morning today, she was in a rush so she had barely finished the kitchen work because that was the top priority. The bedroom was now waiting for some attention! So while her husband sprawled on the sofa watching TV and talking to kids, she gulped a few bites, and quickly rushed to the bedroom to make the bed and clear the other mess there.
Then she called the kids for their staple diet of reading time. Yes, she was super tired, but she knew this was necessary for her kids and she could not count on her husband, who was, of course, the quintessential ‘modern cooperative husband’.
Does the change of surname after marriage play into the acceptance of women as now belonging to a new family, with no responsibilities to her natal family?
Does the change of surname post marriage play into the acceptance of women as now belonging to a new family, with no responsibilities to her natal family?
Last November, when I was travelling to Delhi from Nagpur, on my way I met a beautiful family of four in the train. It was a couple who had married early, along with their four year old son and the two year old daughter ‘Gudiya’. The family was going to their hometown in Rajasthan from Chennai, the place where the father used to work as a labourer in a marble factory.
Gudiya was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Her beautiful big round eyes full of kajal made her look even more beautiful. The kids happily mingled with me and were enjoying my company. On a two day journey to Delhi the kids spent most of their time with me since the time they met me at Nagpur. The parents were happily freed of their continuously annoying kids at least for some time!
I was happy to see that the father loved his daughter so much. I realised that my perception that most uneducated poor families from the northern states particularly Rajasthan and Haryana don’t love their daughters and don’t want a girl child per se, was wrong. No! There are people who accept their daughters and love them.