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All my life you've asked me the wrong questions - "when will you marry, when will you have a baby..." For once, can’t you ask questions like "Are you happy? How is your career? What are your hobbies?”
Sneha smoothened her silk saree and checked her reflection in the mirror once again.
“Are you sure it will be alright?” her parents inquired nervously.
“Of course, it will be. I have to face everyone some time or the other.”
The three of them set off to the home of their old family friend, Mr. Gupta. He was hosting a party, and other apartment owners were invited as well.
“Welcome! When did you come to your mother’s home, Sneha?” Mr. Gupta exclaimed, putting emphasis on the ‘mother’s’ part.
“Some weeks ago, Uncle,” she replied politely.
She had expected an ambush, but not this soon.
“Will you be staying for a while? Won’t your husband Kunal mind that you aren’t there to take care of him?” questioned Mrs. Gupta, relentlessly. She was saved answering this question by the appearance of the Guptas’ son, Prakash.
Sneha and Prakash had studied in the same college and were good friends. At one point, the Guptas had wanted them to marry each other, but Sneha had politely refused. She maintained that they were just good friends. While she went ahead to marry Kunal, Prakash remained single, much to the frustration of his parents.
Prakash shot her a groan; he knew he would be pestered by the aunties of the building with the standard queries.
When are you getting married? Do you have a secret girlfriend?
Sneha’s mother cast a worried glance in her daughter’s direction. Sneha ignored it and headed to the buffet to get something to eat.
“Sneha, is Kunal transferring here?” Mrs. Kapoor asked, her face full of curiosity.
“Haven’t you been married for four years now? When are you giving us good news?” Mrs. Sharma jumped into the conversation.
“Have a baby before it’s too late, aren’t you almost thirty?”
That’s when Mrs. Divakar volunteered information to everyone and no one in particular.
“Kunal’s cousin is related to my aunt on my husband’s side. I heard stuff about you having problems. Hope everything is OK.”
She feigned concern and put her hand on her chest. Sneha put her plate down with a clang.
“Aunties, if you want to know the truth, I will tell you. I divorced Kunal.”
There was a shocked silence. Suddenly, Sneha had become the cynosure of all eyes. Her parents’ hung their heads in shame. This is what they were afraid of. Sneha’s eyes began to fill with tears. But she wouldn’t crumble. She held her head up high.
“Hello everyone, I have an announcement to make. I am single; newly divorced. Do you have any questions? If there is anything, ask me now, else hold your peace.”
“We are so sorry. Poor you!” whispered someone.
“These things happen between husband and wife. I will call up my aunt and ask her to mediate. I’m sure he will take you back.”
“You should have had a baby. What went wrong?”
“Divorcee and single at thirty. Oh no! How will you survive?”
Sneha shook her head in frustration.
“All my life, you asked me the wrong questions. When I was in my twenties, you told me to get married before thirty. And guess what. I got divorced before I turned thirty. The questions never stop, do they?
First, it is ‘when will you get married’? When you get married, next it is ‘when will you have a child’? And when you have one child, it’s ‘when will you have the second one’?
For once, can’t you ask questions like ‘Are you happy? How is your career? What are your hobbies?”
Everyone was stunned.
Someone remarked, “She speaks too much, no wonder her husband dumped her.”
“Kunal was a cheating two-timing soul. He had multiple affairs and treated me like a doormat. I believed him every time he said he was sorry. It only got worse. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I left. I rather be single and proud, than married and ill-treated.”
An uncomfortable whispering followed Sneha’s outburst.
“You and Prakash are friends, perhaps you should get married!” Mrs. Kapoor, ever the solution-maker, announced.
“My son isn’t marrying a damaged girl!” Mrs. Gupta snorted.
“She had her chance back in the day, and she said no.”
“I’m sorry aunties. I am not in hurry to get married again. I want to enjoy my time as a single woman. I finally get to travel the world and focus on my career and my fitness. Additionally, I have picked up art- I always wanted to but never had the time. I’m single and I am HAPPY. Why is it so hard to accept that?”
“Actually, since we are dropping truth bombs, I have one too!” Prakash announced.
“Please don’t tell me you are in love with this girl and want to marry her!” cried Mrs. Gupta hysterically.
A divorcee for a daughter-in-law. What could be worse?
“Sneha? I love her to bits. Always have. But not in the way you think. I can’t marry her or any other girl. Mom, Dad, I am gay.”
Suddenly Sneha being divorced didn’t matter anymore. It turned out that even in scandals, there was a pecking order.
“Sneha, thank you for your rousing speech, else I would have never gotten the courage to confess. This is a load off my chest. Do you want to go for a drive? We can get some ice cream at the corner shop,” smiled Prakash, as Sneha nodded.
Mrs. Gupta had turned white, still processing Prakash’s confession, daring not to look at her friends.
“Now I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind a damaged daughter-in-law?” Sneha winked at her, on her way out.
She linked her hand with her best friend’s, and they set off to celebrate their newfound lives.
Published here first.
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Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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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.
From all news reports, clearly, Aftab Poonawalla seems to be a psychopath, and It was a well-strategized story of domestic violence, abuse, subjugation, and a well-planned murder.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence, gaslighting, murder, and abetting violence, and may be triggering to survivors.
One case has gripped the nation and I do not need to mention which. My problem is with how the news reflects a victim’s character. The disrespect we show to someone who was long abused and lives no more is appalling. The disservice we do to her through spoken and written words lies in the sensationalizing of the entire case.
How do you spot a crazy human? They do not have two horns and red eyes. They may have no empathy but will show it to lure the victim, just like a child abuser lures a child with candy. Their grooming styles may vary but it is mostly about creating an untrue sense of safety and security around the victim. They present themselves as this effortless savior, an ultimate generous destination for a mentally and emotionally vulnerable person.
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