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Some times, all it takes is a ride in the metro to change your entire perspective on certain things. So why not go on a metro ride and speak to a stranger?
Cloudy, with the possibility of rain. But even the violent wind brought a smile on Apurva’s face. ‘How long had it been since I stepped out?’ she mused enjoying the wind in her hair.
It had been 2 weeks since she had fallen terribly ill and the entire world had shut around her. It also gave her time to introspect on things she felt needed any of her thoughts.
“Sickness is like a trance that makes you travel to unforeseen places in your head,” Apurva thought out loud. On second thought, ‘What a great tweet! Can absolutely not make sense to many!’ she chuckled to herself.
Watching people, observing trees (reminiscing the missing ones too) and just enjoying the very act of walking, Apurva reached her destination – the Bengaluru Metro. She was all set to take another journey ahead.
‘Something feels really different today!’ she said to herself and smiled at the security staff. “Life in a metro seems so different today. A year of travelling to work in this train, and yet it feels like the first time I’m actually seeing it.” Flu or the tablets for its treatment were definitely showing some effect on her.
Apurva found a place to sit in the metro and for the first time didn’t want to touch or look at her phone. Instead she looked around, at people, at reactions and at expressions.
In today’s world, not looking at your phone was definitely a feat. Feeling accomplished, she scanned the people around her. Every now and then, she marvelled at the sky with its varied colour of clouds.
Amidst this was a girl, sitting in a corner, leaning on the fiber-glass frame near the door. Apurva’s eyes seemed to go to her every few minutes, no matter how hard she tried to look away. There was a sadness in that girl’s eyes and it seemed like there was some heavy load on her shoulder. Apurva almost felt her pain.
But how appropriate was it for Apurva to go talk to her? Was it even right to want to butt into someone else’s life? “On second thoughts, why not go talk, it’s anyway a day like no other. So why not do something that I have never done?”
Apurva got up and slowly moved towards her. “Can I sit here?” she asked the girl politely. The girl only nodded. Clearly uncomfortable and unsure about what she was trying to do, Apurva feebly asked the girl, ”Are you okay? Do you need some water?” The girl looked up and stared at Apurva. “I’m sorry if am being nosy, but I just felt you needed a stranger.”
The girl looked irritated and quizzical. “No no, I mean sometimes, life’s problems are sorted when you talk to a stranger more than someone you know. Because they can neither judge you nor tell anyone else about it,” Apurva stopped, checking herself not to blabber.
The girl smiled and relief washed over Apurva. “Hi! I’m Apurva. I’m a stranger and I promise to keep your secrets with me. “I’m Anjana!” came a dull voice from the girl.
Apurva smiled at Anjana and waited. “Life is hard, isn’t it,” said Anjana, though she clearly meant to ask it as a question.
“It sure is! Each one of us deal with our own hard life.” Apurva said reflecting. Catching the lesson in her line, Anjana agreed “Yes, each of us feel ours is a difficult life as compared. The grass that always seems browner on your side.”
“What’s your story?” urged Apurva. Anjana sighed. “A story that ain’t worth retelling, but a story that ought to urge me to move ahead too. It’s been two years of my marriage today.”
Looking at Apurva’s expression, Anjana chuckled. “Yes. I am 20 and I was married off at 18. So much for a modern family that believed in educating their child, wore the most fashionable clothes and holidayed in the best of destinations like there wasn’t time to waste but to have fun. I’m not blaming my family, of course, but I wish they would have given me a chance at life!”
“A chance at life!” repeated Apurva. “Don’t we all want one?” Anjana smiled continuing, “I don’t have a bad husband as such. We go out a lot, we travel but yet it feels like something’s missing. The thing is I want to work, I want to make a difference. I want to have a meaning and for some reason my family and the husband feel that I have everything and that there is no need to take any worry on the work. I actually want to feel that worry, that stress of work, of deadlines and of horrible bosses.”
“I’m amused. While most of them want to run away from work, you want to run towards it.” giggled Apurva.
“That’s the thing, you guys have it, so you don’t want it. But take you away from it and you will want it back. The weird workings of a human brain.”
Before Apurva could say anything, Anjana continued, “I want to feel that freedom, that financial freedom, the independence to talk and interact with people. Get scolded for my mistakes and inabilities and to be lauded for the talent I have.”
Apurva admired the shine in Anjana’s voice and eyes as she spoke about wanting to work. Apurva was a marketing professional, who sometimes cribbed about her work but thoroughly enjoyed being in it.
The last 2 weeks of being ill and away from work made Apurva miss work a lot. So she sort of understood Anjana’s need to be someone independent from her family and husband.
“I love how passionate you are about wanting to work. Then why aren’t you? And why are you sad?” asked Apurva quickly, not being able to piece the story together.
“They will never let me work. For that matter, who would hire a married 20 year old, with no experience?” Anjana replied sadly.
“Huh?” said Apurva, before getting the entire picture. “Have you spoken to your family about you want, your need to work?” Apurva started interrogating.
“No! I’m sure they won’t agree because we are really rich and don’t need the money,” Anjana told Apurva.
“People don’t work just for the money, Anjana. I think the first step would be to talk to them and convince them why you need to do this for yourself,” said Apurva calmly.
“Also, everyone is looking for talent all the time. But first figure out what you want to work for, it will make it easier to find the job.” Apurva added.
Smiling to herself about all the problems she had imagined this girl was going through, Apurva said to Anjana, “Many a times, the problems we have is born out of our own minds and can only be solved by our own too. For so long, we, women have been used to keeping quiet and not asking or even voicing our opinions, we refuse to change that habit even now.”
“Though the society around us is changing and even the men in our lives are more broad minded. We live on making this problem our whole life and bringing us down every moment. You know, it’s all in our hands, who we become and where we head to. If we can’t take that step, here is where we shall be stuck forever, in our heads. Unable to follow the dreams and wants, shackled by the demons of our own, blaming everyone else except ourselves.”
“Take a step Anjana, talk a little more to your husband and family. More so, get over your fear of not being able to do what you want. This fight is yours and you alone can win this,” smiled Apurva squeezing Anjana’s hand. She could see realisation dawn in Anjana’s eyes and a sparkle return to her smile.
Anjana got up in a hurry as the metro called out ‘Indiranagar station’.
“Thank you stranger!” she called out.
Apurva smiled settling in her seat, ‘Women can always lift each other up!’, she thought, especially when they look up from their phones and instead looked around once in a while.
“Oh the mighty flu definitely changed perspective, not just mine but a stranger’s too.” This should be tweeted at well, thought Apurva as she got down at her stop.
Image source: Pexels
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