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The Twinkle That Took Long
Monday blues as they called it never surfaced in Malini’s life. She looked forward to coming to work every single day including Sundays. However, today as she entered the office the sight of the balloons dangling in air in the neighbouring cubicle made her uneasy. Her cheery mood turned into a melancholic pall of silence. Balloons were indicative of a celebration. A birthday, a promotion, an anniversary, a sales hike or whatever it must be, she hardly cared ever to find out. For her these balloons acted like salt on her very old wounds. Her team had been working endlessly over the past few months to achieve the target and today was the day of celebrating their success. Malini actually had been the biggest contributor to this success. The day went past with plans being made for a celebration post office hours in the posh resto bar newly opened. This was the team leader’s gesture of appreciation.
Malini was perturbed the whole day. She mentally rehearsed innumerable times the excuse she was going to give for not attending the party. This was not the first time she was giving an excuse. In the past every single celebration she had deliberately missed. In fact that had earned her the title ‘Miss- No Party’ in the office. Snob, queer, introvert, old fashioned and what not they called behind her back every time she gave a plea to not attend.
Malini deliberately stuck today on the felt board in her cubicle, a paragraph she picked from the book called Only You. It read…. “I wasn’t too close with the people at work for these very reasons. They would all make plans to go out somewhere after work. To decompress, they called it. To have fun. I had to come back home so that my parents didn’t worry about anything untoward happening to me. But it was more to satisfy the wagging tongues of the many aunties in the family who were appalled that my parents were ‘letting me work’ instead of getting me married.”
Malini highlighted it so that people around her read and maybe spare her from uncomfortable questions on her absence in all celebrations. The paragraph may probably convince them. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be a part of the celebration. She fought with herself every time, wanting to rebel against her thoughts, cherish those moments and live her life to the fullest. Yet every time the underlying darkness of something dissuaded her. Maybe by next time her metamorphosis may happen, her cocoon may break and she would be the limelight of the next celebration. These wishes she carried in her heart however with each passage of time were going into oblivion. Beneath her calm outer self, there were deeply seated inner battles and conflicts she was fighting. No one would believe that behind her sombre serious self, lay a soul which wanted to let hair down and just drown in fun. She wanted to dress up, dance to glory, feel the fizz of the champagne, laugh aloud and enjoy herself as if there was no tomorrow. But there was a hurdle she dared not leap.
The evening drew close increasing her inner agitation and outward awkwardness. Surprisingly this time no one even bothered to force her to attend. A casual inquiry if she was coming to party was made as if to get over with the formality. Before she could begin with her rehearsed speech the team leader walked away as if he had anticipated her refusal. The hustle and bustle among her colleagues, the dressing up and makeup touches in the restroom, the loud discussions of plan, the laugher and the excitement made her nauseous and jealous to the core.
She left the office quietly, dot on time today. No one even noticed when she left. How she hoped they would make last attempts to cajole her to come. Yet this time it was a cold acceptance. She wanted to tell them this was not who she was. They didn’t know inside her silent self was a bubbly soul wanting to free herself, she wanted to enjoy life like they did, her every cell yearned to be part of these celebrations. Then what was it that held her back?
The whole taxi journey back home Malini was lost in inspecting her life. Will her true self be always hidden? Will she never breathe the air of freedom? Will she ever establish who she really is? With a heavy heart lost in her thoughts she entered her house. Her mother hurried in the kitchen to make tea for her while her father immersed himself in paper like every day, a polite manner of avoiding her.
It was just like the other days which passed in silence and we avoided each other in the house. There had been a time when the whole house vibrated in warmth, communication channels were wide open, the family feeling and being for each other stood out prominently. This was till they stumbled on Malini\’s secret 2 years ago. Malini had deliberately left her diary in the living room so that they read it. They read but never confronted her. She often wondered why. Did they not want to shout at her, slap her, counsel her like every other parent would do. Why did they choose silence and pretending to not know over opposition? Many times Malini wondered if they had understood what she wrote. Today her parents sensed her tense mood during dinner as none of them even made a casual remark during the uncanny silent dinner session.
The bright light of the pub, the blaring music, the chatter, the mad like dancing. Mahesh was having a blast. The office colleagues marvelled at his dancing style, the girls squeaked in delight as he flirted with them, his jokes made everyone go in splits. What a magnetic personality he was. Charismatic, gregarious, gay, lively, effervescent energy and the soul of every party.
Someone called Mahesh….Maheeesh…Mahish..Mahi..Mali..Malini. It was dark in the pub and Mahesh turned back on being called. As the light shone on his face, his face transformed. It looked like Malini.
Malini woke up with a shudder. This recurring dream made entry every other day like a soap opera. The episodes changed but Mahesh remained the central character. Mahesh her deepest secret since she was 14 and discovered herself. Malini was her pseudo self. She was actually Mahesh trapped in Malini. For the past 10 years Mahesh fought with her to come out. She clobbered him every time till one day unable to bear his demand for freedom; she left her diary out in the open for her parents to read. She owed this to Mahesh. Her parents choose silence and till date they never gave Mahesh the place he deserved. Why did they choose silence? Frail and fraught they probably didn\’t want to lose Malini for economic and security reasons. How selfish they were. Malini was filled with so many grievances against them. Their own child was suffering. Why could they not embrace her for what she was? Even if they would have denied Mahesh’s existence loudly she would have been okay. But this silence killed her every single day.
The next morning was Sunday. Pramila aunty barged in with yet another proposal for marriage. Malini always prepared her grounds for arguing with her for not considering the proposal, giving the same excuses like she will study further, her parents need her support, she is not mentally ready etc. Pramila aunty started her volley of questions as to why Malini was not being readied for marriage. Malini just started her arguments when she saw her father stand up. He looked at Malini’s mother for a fleeting second and she gave him an approving nod.
“Malini no longer exists now. Mahesh is there now. So do not get any proposals in future for Malini’, He hurriedly blurted. With this statement he walked away, with Malini’s mother following in his footsteps. Pramila aunty was left gaping as this sentence made no sense to her immediately.
Dinner today again was a silent affair but the only difference was that today Malini aka Mahesh had a twinkle in his eyes. Life seemed without burden now. Tomorrow Mahesh would go to work place and declare to all the office colleagues .. its time to party.
I am a post doctorate in social sciences, specializing in education and a professor at Somaiya Vidyavihar University. My areas of expertise are Research , Life skills and Management of Education. I am a voracious reader read more...
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If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
Smita could visit her mother only in summers when her daughter had school holidays. Her daughter also enjoyed meeting her Nani, and both of them had done their reservations for a week. A month before their visit, her husband told her, “My mom is coming for 4-5 months!”
Smita shuddered. She knew the repercussions. She would have to hear sarcastic comments from her mother-in-law for visiting her mother. She may make these comments directly only a bit, but her servants would be flooded with the words, “How horrible she is! She leaves me and goes!”
Maybe Animal is going to make Ranbir the superstar he yearns to be, but is this the kind of legacy his grandfather and granduncles would wish for?
I have no intention of watching Animal. I have heard it’s acting like a small baby screaming and yelling for attention. However, I read some interesting reviews which gave away the original, brilliant and awe-inspiring plot (was that sarcastic enough?), and I don’t really need to go watch it to have an informed opinion.
A little boy craves for his father’s love but doesn’t get it so uses it as an excuse to kill a whole bunch of people when he grows up. Poor paapa (baby) what else could he do?
I was wondering; if any woman director gets inspired by this movie and replicates this with a female protagonist, what would happen?. Oh wait, that’s the story of so many women in this world. Forget about not giving them love, you have fathers who try to kill their daughters or sell them off or do other equally despicable things.
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