Sakhi's Laghukatha

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My dearest Cookie,

You entered your teenage just recently and you were so very excited about it. Looking at you, so happy and chirpy, swelled my heart. I loved you even more (if that is even possible!) when you refused to have a birthday bash for yourself because you had demanded a costly gift. It was amazing to see that dimply smile on your face when your friends unexpectedly came to wish you. All you girls looked so cute and happy. Touch wood! (No, I don’t really believe in this phrase, but it won’t hurt either ;))

I am writing this letter, and might not give it to you till you are 15 years at least, to let you know a few thoughts that I have had since you were born and are getting stronger as you are turning into a fine young lady.

Now that you are growing up it is not going to be possible for me or daddy to protect you all the time or keep you from harm’s way. No longer will it be possible for us to filter out the news and give you only positive or scientific news to read from newspapers. Days are not very far when you will want to go out alone with your friends and we will be fretting at home till you return home safely. You might want to go on your first date real soon. Things are going to change with all the physical and emotional changes that you are going to experience and we realize that you are no longer our little girl.

With increasing intolerance towards woman individuality in our country, we will be worried about your safety, not just physically but emotionally too. You will have your share of hurts and heartaches, and I am not talking about just the romantic ones. People will be mean when you least expect them to be. You will hear adverse comments on your gender or caste or religion or bodyweight. You will soon find out how dirty it feels to be touched inappropriately when you travel in crowded public transport or how uncomfortable you will be made to feel by some lecherous eyes even when you are fully dressed. These thoughts are painful to me, to say the least, but you will have to go through these experiences nonetheless. Consider these as a part of your growing up process.

With all these adversities of growing up in a regressive society that we live in today and with reducing morals, I know it is going to be tough to keep up your morale, but trust me you will be fine. Don’t confuse between being carefree and careless. Do not misunderstand the word “freedom”. Do not do things you are not comfortable doing just to fit in the group. Do not suffer bullying. Don’t give up on your values and never take abuses lying down. Do not get into the fight of gender-equality or superiority as it will never serve any purpose and you will waste your life proving something that is immaterial in the larger schemes of life. Trust yourself. Fight for your rights and be just to others. Learn to forgive and let go.

I want you to know that you are special. And you will meet more good people in life than bad. A loving family, a few best friends and that special person who will always love you for what you are, will make your life complete. You will be valued for your beautiful heart and not just for the looks you carry. You will be treasured for your hard work and fairness to achieve what you desire and not for the fairness (or the lack of it) of your skin colour. You will be respected for balancing your personal and professional life and not for sacrificing things that you value the most to fan someone’s ego. You will be appreciated for the charities you do and what you give back to the society as your social responsibilities and not because of your body size. You will be cherished, the way I have been, for being you.

Be kind, Be generous and Be happy!

God Bless You…

Lots of love,

Mumma

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Posted on: August 14, 2014

fiction_stamp Dhri was not happy to leave her friends behind in Bangalore. She did not like that she had to leave her favourite school too. She loved the house and her room, not to mention cuddling up in her bunk bed. She belonged there.Though she never told anyone, she would miss Ryan too. Her friend, her soul mate. How will she be able to survive without seeing Ryan everyday. Of course, Facetime and Skype will help but it will not be the same. Sigh. 

 Everyday she was told about how good the new school would be and how great the new residence was. She was told about this new city, the city that never slept! Mumbai, city of dreams!! It sounded more like a nightmare. Though all were trying to perk her mood up, there was no way that she would feel excited about this new development. But she was 16 and she had to comply to her parents wish of shifting base to Mumbai. She looked like a little girl when she boarded plane with tears in her eyes and pouting. She kept staring out of the window, tears streaming down her face, throughout the flight. It was as if her world was crumbling around her.

Blue tarpauline lined slum houses and littered roads, continuous honking and traffic snarls of Mumbai dampened Dhri’s spirits even further. Affluent ambiance, perfectly trimmed Mehndi shrubs, evenly spaced trees, landscaped garden, swimming pool and cheering children on their bicycles at her new housing society did not do much to lift her mood. New abode was as good as her Bangalore one, if not better. It seemed to Dhri that nothing, nothing can ever make her happy now that she was uprooted.

Days passed and Dhri’s family started liking their new place. Her brother made new friends and both her parents started settling down at their new work place too. Neighbours were quite helpful and welcoming. Only Dhri resisted being happy. She still sulked and did everything to show how unhappy she was at every opportunity she got. School was still closed for summer vacation so there was no way to make new friends unless she ventured out of her new apartment, which she did not! She just wanted to show her parents how they had ruined her life by getting her away from her comfortable and contended life. It was working in part as her parents were now getting worried looking at their once happy-go-lucky daughter brooding for days. No amount of pacifying or reasoning seemed to work and one day Dhri’s father lost his cool. He admonished Dhri for her irrational behaviour.

That night Dhri cried herself to sleep. It was not even midnight when a sudden noise in her room startled Dhri and she woke up with a start. It took time for her vision to adjust to darkness. She thought she saw a shadow near her french window and she shrieked. Sweat beads broke out on her forehead and she struggled under the grip of the shadow who was now trying to stop her from screaming. As her effort to free herself reduced, she realized that the shadow was trying to talk to her. She stopped fighting. The shadow released her and it turned out that he was a young lad and a very handsome one at that! Fear went out of Dhri’s being, she kept staring at him. He was saying something to her but Dhri was lost. She blinked her eyes and he was gone. Dhri could not believe her eyes. She wanted to run to her parents but decided against it thinking she might have had a nightmare. She tried sleeping again but it eluded her that night.

Next night she tried staying awake to see if what happened the previous night was really a dream or not, but dozed off. A light shake woke her up. The shadow was there, looking down at her, smiling. Dhri, disoriented, looked around. She was indeed at her own home and this guy was in her room, smiling! Confused, she smiled back. His name was Hrim and apparently, he saw her everyday mopping around the house and just felt like meeting her. He liked her and wanted to talk to her. He was of her own age and was a neighbour. If that was the case, why he did not come and meet her like a regular visitor, she asked. He guffawed. Dhri liked the sound of his laughter and she smiled, a wary smile still, too. He started talking to her like he was her childhood friend and they always knew each other. Dhri warmed up to this cute chap and it was beginning of a new friendship. They talked and talked and Dhri slept off somewhere near dawn. When she got up she had a smile on her face. She felt good and light. After ages she hummed a song as she went to shower. Everyday she waited for the night to fall, waited for Hrim. They loved talking, shared their dreams and fears, teased each other and fought too. Her scowl had transformed into a happy, silly grin and it did not go unnoticed. Her parents were happy that finally their daughter had accepted the change and was being herself again. Again she was irritating elder sister, loving daughter and generally a happy teen. She was herself!

Hrim came to meet Dhri every night, which went on for a few weeks. One night as they were engaged in their usual banter, there was a knock on the door. Dhri was surprised since everyone was supposed to be asleep. Were they too loud? What will they say if they saw Hrim in her room at this hour? She looked at Hrim and he just smiled and nodded for her to open the door. Her parents rushed inside the room and looked worried. They demanded to know what was going on and whom was she talking to and laughing with. Dhri looked over her shoulder and saw Hrim had vanished. She smiled at her friend’s quick reflexes. “No one”, she replied and kept her naughty smile in check. Her mother gave anxious look before leaving her alone and asked her not to lock the door. Hrim did not come for a couple of days, rather nights, and Dhri realized how much she was missing him. It had not occurred to her to ask for his mobile number neither had he asked hers. She did not even know, if he was her neighbour, which was his apartment. She cursed herself for being so stupid. Now, there was no other choice but to wait for him to come over. There was no way she can contact him. Hrim came over on the third day, as usual, with his trademark smile intact. Dhri giggled with joy but took care to keep her voice low. They got lost in their repartee. Opening of her bedroom door startled Dhri. She rushed to her fuming parents to pacify them. She was sure that this time Hrim did not have enough time to escape. Her father pushed her aside, rushed to the balcony beyond the french window for he was sure that whomever Dhri was talking to had to be there. To their utter disbelief there was no one. Dhri was happy that Hrim had pulled off the disappearance act again but this time her parents did not let her off the hook. They goaded her and after a while Dhri spilled the beans. They looked at each other in bewilderment and with incredulity at their 16 year old.

How was this possible, their home was on 26th floor?!

true-story4

Names and certain incidences are changed to protect privacy!

“Papaaaaaaaaaaa…” Shree ran to her father to give him a bear hug as she saw him on the airport almost after a fortnight. She loved her father a lot but these days he was too busy with expansion of his business and was not able to give her much time. He kissed her on her forehead and hugged her tight. Oh, how he missed her! Shree was his only child and apple of his eyes. Shree filled him up with all that she had done in the past few days at school, about her friends and her win at State skating championship.

“Where’s mom?” Mohit asked her. He did not like that Shree had come to pick him up alone with the driver. He never trusted anyone with his daughter.

“Oh, mom was busy with some meeting, so I came alone. I couldn’t wait to meet you, papa!” His heart swelled with love for his daughter.

In a day or two at home, Mohit noticed some changes in his adolescent daughter. She was more chirpy than usual. She had some shyness on her face which wasn’t there earlier. Mohit disregarded these changes thinking that they were due to the transition of his little girl to the womanhood. Still, he made a mental note to talk about this to his wife. Just to be sure that there was no silly boy in his daughter’s life. BOY, was he paranoid!

But before he could dwell more on the matter he was on tour again and the whole issue was forgotten. But it struck him as odd when Shree did not come to pick him up on the airport this time. And as he noticed, the changes that were subtle earlier were pronounced now. Shree was lost all the time, spent more time in her room. Most striking was, her grades were below average, for the first time in her life. Mohit tried to talk to her but she refused that there was any problem. The heated argument ensued with Mohit striking her hard across her face, again, for the first time in her life! Tears of anger, tears of shame, tears of humiliation, tears of revenge slid down young Shree’s cheeks. She resolved to teach her father a lesson!

Mohit felt bad at losing his temper. He knew how futile it would be to deal with adolescent kids in such upper hand manners. He resolved to make it up to her the next day.

Mohit prepared Shree’s favourite breakfast, rosti and orange juice, and took the tray to her room. He was shell shocked not to find her but a note on her pillow. He collapsed on the bed reading his daughter’s life sentence to herself!

Malti found him sitting at the edge of Shree’s bed staring at the life size picture of their daughter with tears running down his face. He looked so haggard and lost that she had to shake him out of his trance. When she read the note Shree had left behind, Malti almost collapsed. A look of “What and when did so much go wrong” passed between them. They sat there, holding hands and crying over each others shoulders for their daughter.

When did Shree grow up so much! She was all of sixteen and fallen in love. Fallen in love with a sweeper! And she ran away with him to teach her father a lesson!

“God, why her?” Mohit kept repeating this again and again in his prayers.

“She is just a kid. She doesn’t even know how to boil water or who polishes her shoes. How will she survive? What if…”  There were thousands of questions pricking Shree’s parents.

Mohit and Malti tried their level best, with all the contacts they had, to find their daughter to no vail. Even the boy’s parents were taken into custody but they too did not know where the duo was. It was almost two months now that Shree had gone.  Everybody had given up hope, but Mohit. In his heart he knew he would find his daughter no matter what!

One day as he was returning from his office, he saw a young girl selling vegetables on the roadside. She, just a little, resembled his Shree… though this girl was in shambles, in tattered clothes and looked like she hasn’t eaten or taken bath in months. Mohit shook his head at how almost all girls of Shree’s age reminded him of his beloved child. Tears stung his eyes yet again.

But as he went a few blocks ahead something struck him. No, this girl has to be Shree… the resemblance was too much to be a coincidence. He asked his driver to take a u-turn, he wanted to be sure! He approached the vendor with caution. If it was Shree, he did not want her to lose her again.

He could not believe his eyes when he looked at the girl from such close quarters. His daughter had lost substantial amount of weight, once shiny black hair looked like end of a broom with filth in them. Her once lacquered nails were brittle with dirt underneath, lips were chapped and skin was now dirty and listless! Mohit fought inner battle not to break down with pain in full public view.

“Shree…” he called her tentatively. Their eyes met. Something flickered in Shree’s eyes, hope may be! Without a word father-daughter climbed in the car. Mohit held his daughter’s hand tightly, never to let go again.

He saw shame, humiliation, fear and many such nameless emotions in his daughter’s eyes and gritted his teeth. He vowed to ruin the boy’s life. But that can wait… till his daughter is brought back to life!!!

fiction_stamp2“Come on, yaar! I think when one is older the need of a spouse is even more. Be it a man or a woman.” Pankti remembered her own words when she had vehemently defended elderly remarriage among her group.

“What if, God forbid, your father was to do the same? What will be your reaction then? Pankti, it is one thing to talk about something and other when you actually have to follow it!” Krish had argued.

“No, I will always be at my dad’s side if he chooses to remarry after my mother!” She had replied strongly. The discussion went on and ended without a consensus. That was about two decades ago.

Pankti had never, ever thought that she would have to take such a decision in her life. The only difference was that the decision was to be taken for her mother instead of father. Why call it a decision? Her mother had given her a choice… a choice for her mother’s life!

Of course, Pankti was not averse to the idea. Or was she?

Why, then, since she has heard of it is she so upset?

Were her debates and the talks of (elderly) remarriage just empty talks? No. And, anyways, who was talking about marriage here? They just have decided to stay together, a few days at her mom’s place and a few days at “his” place.

“Then what’s your problem?” She asked herself.

Though she was still not comfortable with the whole idea, she had agreed to meet with “the man” whom her mother thought was a “very nice person” and “she would love to meet him”!

As the duo approached him, pankti was increasingly feeling nervous. She looked at her mother and could make out that she too was not in her usual chirpy mood. Pankti went into a kind of a shock when she met Mr. Shah.  He was not at all what she had conjured up in her mind. He was a slight man with a pleasant personality and slowly she became comfortable in his company.

“What did you expect, idiot!!” She reprimanded herself. “He is supposed to be 65 years old, about your mother’s age.”

But his grey cells were nowhere near 65 years… he was a jovial man and well versed too. Slowly Pankti relaxed and forgot how apprehensive she was before coming here. And she looked at her mother, her smile was worth anything.

Later that night when she was thinking about Mahadeve i.e. Mr. Shah, she realized that she never had any problem with her mother being friends or more with anybody. But she was afraid of how the other person might turn out to be. It was as if she was thinking about her child’s matrimony and not her mother’s!

Today when she endorsed their friendship with a smile she truly felt she had become her mother’s mother!! 🙂

 

Aaryaa was known in her family for being chirpy and was fondly known as “smiley flower” by one and all. But lately she seemed very distant and lost. Sudha was getting worried about her. Aaryaa had just turned 15 last month. Usually Aaryaa chatted away to glory with her friends and hanged out with them often. Lately, Sudha didn’t see her doing that either. Sudha was sincerely worried.

 

Sudha thought initially that its just a phase. But When Aarya rejected a chocolate truffle cake for desert, Sudha had to talk to her.

 

“What’s the matter, sweetie?” asked Sudha when she went to Aaryaa’s room to say good night and saw her starring out of the window in oblivion.

 

“What? Nothing mom.”

 

“Is something bothering you? You know, we are friends and you can tell me anything that you want, isn’t it!”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“So what is it?”

 

Aaryaa looked in her mother’s eyes and wondered whether to tell her or not. She was her best friend but she was her mom too. Will she understand her?

 

She thought for a while and decided to tell her mother, she didn’t have to lose anything anyways!

 

“I don’t know how to say this…! Aaryaa’s eyes started brimming with tears.

 

Sudha was getting increasingly agitated, thinking the worse! But she knew she had to control her emotions.

 

“Its okay, sweetie, take your time. Will you prefer to talk some other time?”

 

“NO!” Aaryaa now wanted to tell to her mother everything that she was experiencing lately. She was too confused and all her friends were even more stupid than her!

 

“Mom, you know Ishmeet, hai na!”

 

Of course she knew Ishmeet. He was Aaryaa’s friend since they were in first grade.

 

“So, what about him? Has he done something to Aaryaa? Has he misbehaved? If he has, then I swear, I am going to make him suffer for the rest of his life!“ thought Sudha vehemently. But she just sat there patiently waiting for Aarya to go on, never once showing her impatience.

 

“Mom, hun…. he…. hun…. I mean, I ….” Aaryaa was finding it difficult and Sudha was getting increasingly impatient, thinking the worse.

 

“Mom, I think I love Ishmeet!” Aarya ultimately blurted out.

 

Sudha didn’t know what to do. She wanted to laugh aloud with relief. She was relieved that everything was fine.

 

But she didn’t allow the grin to spread over her face. She solemnly looked at Aarya as if it was the most important topic in the world and asked,

 

“Okay, but why are you so sad these days? And what does Ishmeet has to say about this?”

 

“Well he doesn’t know it yet! Oh mom, guys are so dumb!” Aaryaa smiled a little. Sudha felt warm to the core looking at her daughter smile after almost a fortnight.

 

“Yeah I know what you mean. But sweetie, let this be our little secret for a while. You study hard and let him also do the same. You two are such good friends and keep it this way till you are mature enough to discuss it out. Since you don’t know how he feels, why jeopardize the friendship?”

 

Aaryaa thought for a while.

 

“But mom, I feel horrible. I don’t want to feel this way for him or anybody. I want to study hard, play tennis and dance. The usual things I do. But these days I don’t feel like doing them at all. All that I like doing is, think about Ishmeet!”

 

Sudha slid a bit towards her teenage daughter and gave a warm hug.

 

“It’s okay, sweetie pie, to have these feelings. Everybody have them. Some accept it, some don’t. Some can acknowledge it, some can’t. But, baby, this is a growing up process and we all pass through it. It’s okay. Cherish it.

 

And as I said earlier, this is our little secret… We won’t tell this to anybody.” Sudha winked at her daughter and they both giggled like old friends and had their chocolate truffle.

 

Sudha knew the matter didn’t end here and some serious thoughts also had to be planted in Aaryaa’s mind so that she doesn’t take her advice too lightly. But she knew she has done a good job today not reprimanding or preaching Aaryaa. She won her daughter’s confidence which was more important at the moment.

She didn’t want to push Aaryaa away from her by giving her the lecture on morality.

 

The way her mother had done!


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