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Aaradhna walked into the kitchen. All these years, she made filter coffee on an auto pilot mode, because he liked it. She was more of a tea person; rather a ginger tea person.
The Muse of the Month is a monthly writing contest organised by Women’s Web, bringing you original fiction inspired by women.
Barkha Shah is one of the winners of the September 2020 Muse of the Month.
He was gone. It was strange. The house was empty. No chit-chatter. Just silence.
And yet it gave her a sense of freedom. It was the beginning of a new life. A start of a new journey.
From now on, she wouldn’t have to hide her pain. She wouldn’t have to worry about what the world would think. She gave it her best. It didn’t work out. She finally accepted that it was time to move on.
Aaradhna was asked many a times by her friends. Was it tough to get divorced? Was it heart-wrenching to see the man you loved, give up on you? Wasn’t there any resentment?
There was some resentment, for a long time. But not anymore. Aaradhna had accepted that it was time to look ahead. She lived in denial for years. She used his work as an excuse for his behavior. “No, Ma. It’s just his work stress. Otherwise, he is nice to me.”
What a fool she was, she thought. Or maybe she was too optimistic. Perhaps, she just didn’t want to give up.
It took years for Aaradhna to push herself into believing that when Karthik said he had fallen out of love with her, he meant it. But what does ‘out of love’ mean? Are all married couples always in love? Or is it companionship, the sense of security, the feeling of having someone around you, to take care of you, that keeps them together?
And how did he fall ‘out of love’? Did she do something wrong? Was she not ‘lovable’? Or was he in love with someone else? Too many questions that she didn’t have answers to.
But today is going to be different, she told herself. She strode in her pyjamas into the balcony and opened up the windows. For the first time in many years, she felt that she was actually smelling the roses.
The balcony had a marble fitted seat that was unused for years. After all, who had time for conversations? He left early. Came in close to midnight. It was work, he said. Weekends were no different. He was either on the phone most of the time, or had a business lunch or had to go out with friends. But then she went weak thinking, “He is always under stress; I shouldn’t complain.”
Maybe that’s what happened, Aaradhna thought. “To be an understanding wife, I misread his needs. He didn’t want to be with me,” she pondered.
With the noises in her mind, Aaradhna walked into the kitchen. All these years, she made filter coffee on an auto pilot mode, because he liked it. She was more of a tea person; rather a ginger tea person. In the beginning of her married life, she made coffee for him and tea for herself. As time flew by, she let her choices take a backseat. Not because he asked for it. But because she got lazy. “Who has the time to make tea and coffee separately,” she convinced herself.
Maybe that’s what happened, Aaradhna thought. “I let go of my wishes. I killed my own dreams. I crushed my own happiness,” she realized.
And so she started pounding ginger. The fragrance of the tuber tingled her nostrils. She smiled. It was a small change in her life but meant something bigger. It was the realization that she didn’t have to think about anyone else’s priorities anymore.
With her tea mug in hand, she sat in the balcony. The newspaper pages unfurled in the breeze, almost as if beckoning her to pick them up. Aaradhna did. It was Sunday. The supplements weighed more than the newspaper. Her eyes lingered on a pic of Bhutan. The serene, azure sky, the lush, green fields and the breathtaking mountains seized her attention. When was the last time she travelled, she thought?
There was an urge in her soul. Bhutan felt like a place where she could break free. Where her soul would find peace. Where her questions, if not answered, could at least die down.
Maybe those clouds in the sky could carry her thoughts away. Maybe the bells in the Buddhist temples could hush out the noise in her mind. Maybe the smiles of the monks could ease her pain. Maybe the beauty of the place could lead her to a new path.
Aaradhna wanted to book tickets now and go. “But who would I travel with?” she thought.
Sadness crept into her heart again, only to be stomped upon by a new thought. Aaradhna remembered a travel website that did group travel packages for women. She quickly opened up her laptop and browsed through their site. There was a Bhutan tour seat available. Aaradhna thought again. Would she be comfortable with strangers? Would it be weird sharing a room with someone she has never met before? Would it be a risk?
A chat box on the site opened up, as if to answer these questions. “How may I help you?” it asked.
Aaradhna took the plunge. “Yes, I need help booking the Bhutan trip,” she typed out. This was the first time in years that she realized asking for help wasn’t a sign of weakness.
Editor’s note: Elizabeth Stamatina “Tina” Fey is an American actor, comedian, writer and producer, best known to her fans for Saturday Night Live as a comedian and later 30 Rock where she famously impersonated Sarah Palin while Amy Poehler impersonated Hillary Clinton during the 2008 US elections, and her autobiography Bossypants and the movie Mean Girls as a writer.
There were many other interesting things that she also did, both on and off screen. But all along, she has been this brilliant woman who is best perceived as a sort of ‘glamorous’ librarian, with legendary work ethic, deadpan humour, and a grounded personality, qualities that helped catapult her comedy projects to unprecedented levels of success. And of course, a feminist. I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone reads her book, Bossypants.
The cue is this quote by her: “There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”
Barkha Shah wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: shutterstock
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I am a freelance writer based out of Bangalore.
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