Sakhi's Laghukatha

Posts Tagged ‘Life

It was the year 1972. Since Alekhya was neither good at studies nor good looking by general standards, her wealthy family thought best to get her settled in life. She was soon married to Sunil, a young, extremely handsome guy who held a stable job in government, albeit not very rich. Alekhya was all of 18 when she was married off. With the dream of love and fun-filled life in her eyes, she shifted from Hyderabad to Mumbai to be with her new family.

New life was far from what she had imagined. Sunil was a quiet guy; he was not really interested in her, nor was he interested in anybody or anything else. He would keep to himself. Their physical intimacy was few and far between. This frustrated Alekhya to the core. At her maternal home, she would throw tantrums and was used to getting things her way, but her tantrums would not work here, simply because no one really cared. She would look around her tiny matchbox chawl room of Mumbai and compare it with her sprawling home at Hyderabad. She cringed every time she had to stand in queue every morning at not-so-clean community toilets. She would curse her destiny and her family for subjecting her to this torture. At the same time, youthful Alekhya dotted on her husband and tried to find meaning to her new life. A year flew by and one evening, as they were having celebratory family meal Alekhya heard a thud. She saw her young husband sprawled on the floor in front of her, in violent seizures and frothing at mouth, getting soaked in his own urine and faeces. Alekhya was horrified beyond words. She, bewildered, looked at other family members to find them completely nonchalant. After a couple of minutes, the horror stopped, and her husband lied there, lifeless. Her mother-in-law asked Alekhya to pick him up and get him cleaned, as if nothing had happened. 19-year-old Alekhya, sat down with her unconscious husband and cried. She did not know what else to do, so she just cried. After a while, when Sunil groggily came out of his stupor, she supported him to take him to the bathroom. She had many questions, but Sunil avoided to even look at her. On the day of their first anniversary Alekhya was gifted by the news of her husband being a chronic epileptic! She wasn’t sure how was he able to hide this for so long.

Alekhya now became full time care giver to her epileptic husband. She would always be scared when he would go in to seizures. It happened so many times that people would come drop him home as he would have fallen on streets. Having emergency medical card in pocket would come in handy but this did not take away the fear of losing him to accidents. Medical advances in epilepsy in later years would reduce the number and intensity of attacks but not without central nervous system side-effects of long term seizures and medical treatment. Alekhya started brewing from within. She felt cheated, both by her father, whom she loved and revered dearly, and by her husband. Sexual frustration and loveless marriage intensified her dormant manipulative character.

Alekhya had always loved to be in the center of attraction all the time but it cannot be said when she started enjoying her victimhood. Whether due to guilt or out of pity, her father started lavishing money and gifts on her, sometimes even against the wishes of his own son. Alekhya started playing the devil sister-in-law that you would see in Bollywood movies. It was amazing to see how an innocent looking lady can be so devious in her actions and motives. Probably, even she did not understand why and what she was doing as there was no direct gain visible of her petty conduct. She gathered ire of her near and dear ones, including her children (yes, she did have children, whom she abhorred!!). Her children grew up to dislike and love her at the same time. After all she was their mother! She inflicted mental and physical torture on them till they were dependent on her. Sunil never came to their rescue, most of the time he was not aware and other times he just ignored. Maybe he was too dependent on Alekhya for his own survival that he chose to look the other way when his children suffered atrocities by their own mother.

There was another side of Alekhya that was surprisingly opposite to her general behaviour with her family and friends. She loved taking care of people who worked for her as house helps or anyone who was not directly related to her. She would go out of her way to take care of them and they her. Many layers of Alekhya!

Years passes with her mundane, home bound and dormant life. Alekhya tried to make it interesting by taking up hobbies like crocheting, making pickles, jams, mouth fresheners etc. and selling them. This kept her happy and also helped her with little pocket money. Money that she received from her father was spent lavishly on no-body-knew-what! However, nothing gave her more pleasure than scheming, gossiping and lamenting about her own life and that of others.

Over the years, Sunil gradually became more and more dependent on Alekhya as his health deteriorated significantly and she too got used to her dreary life. Children grew up and went their own ways, one of them vouching to never return to the parents-that-were-never-there and the other hanging on the periphery. Alekhya being Alekhya, tried to create wedge between her own children and their spouses too. She made sure that her son and daughter-in-law did not have one peaceful moment till they decided to leave them and start their lives separately. Grand children weren’t spared either.

After a pitiful death of Sunil at the age of 65, Alekhya thought she would finally live her life the way she wanted; watching movies in theaters, eating whatever she liked, dressing up however she wanted! Alas, Karma had something else in store for her. Within a year, she health corroded. Multiple hospitalizations and surgeries left her in vegetative state and at a complete mercy of the very people she had wronged.

On one of the rare occasions that Alekhya gained consciousness, she looked into her daughter-in-law’s eyes, held her hand and said, “I know I have done a lot of mistakes in my life, please forgive me.” Gopi, looked at her, without much emotions and held her mother-in-law’s hands, not giving away the pain and hurt and loathing that she felt at the particular moment. She also felt pity at the elderly, wrinkled mass of skin and bones but not forgiveness.

Life had come full-circle!

****

Disclaimer – Based on true life events. Certain details of Alekhya’s life has been modified taking literary liberty.

To Read About Gopi’s Angst, Click Here

Proposal

Posted on: August 28, 2019

fiction_stamp

Kshitij fiddled with his iPhone in nervousness. It was more than 10 years that he had last seen her in person. They have been in touch on and off through Facebook and WhatsApp, but he had never really expressed his feelings to her. He did not even know whether she considered him as one of her many online friends or just an acquaintance from past. Definitely, he was not on her radar!

Kshitij smiled at the memory of much younger himself waiting for her almost every morning to enter their office together. She did not have any inkling, he guessed, of his fluttering heart; she would give her cursory, cute smile and walk off or have a small chat but nothing much. This was the ritual for all the five years that they worked together. He could never garner any nerve to ever express his amorous dispositions. He tried once, feebly, which he now doubted if she even realized to be a proposal. He remembered her hearty laugh, sweeping the whole conversation aside like a pro who is used to such flirting in her everyday life. Contrary to his expectations, neither she acknowledged it nor harbored any ill feelings. Time passed, and they went their own ways as their respective careers took them to different companies and cities.

He tried to keep in touch with her with social media coming in handy. She was always friendly and nonchalant about their conversations. Catching up with her, once in a while, was like a breath of fresh air for Kshitij. Social media had its boons and bane. Looking at her changing DPs or the life updates from time to time was making it more and more difficult for him to forget her. Of course, he could just decide not to follow her or block her for his own sanity, but he could not do the obvious!

In these 10 years, both had grown in their respective careers and had families of their own. He loved his wife and son to a tee but there was this unexplainable void deep down in Kshitij’s heart that wanted him to reach out to her and at least let her know once what he felt for her. As age was catching up, he was getting increasingly jittery. He needed to get this weight off his chest. He was well aware that this confession was not going to get him anywhere. For all he knew, she would completely cut him off.

So that was it… he was going to do it… propose… via WhatsApp!!!

***

10 pm, Friday

Kshitij: Hi

Her: Hey, hi… what’s up? 😊 Been a while!

Kshitij: yeah… how are you?

Her: goooood… as always 😊

Kshitij: You still with A&Z?

Her: yeah… and you?

Kshitij: M&B

Her: Cool… so, what’s new? Howz life?

Kshitij: I wanted to tell you something

Her: shoot

Kshitij: I always wanted to propose to you… ever since we first met

Silence…

Kshitij: Hello?

Her: Are you out of your mind? What are you saying?

Kshitij: Nothing, sorry to have bothered you

Silence again…

***

That night Kshitij did not sleep well. He did not know what to expect. Or maybe this was exactly what he expected. He kept checking his phone to see if she was online or if she sent any messages.

Nothing…

It was 3 am and he dozed off.

Morning came with a brooding mood. Kshitij did not want to wait for something that was not going to happen. He did what he wanted to do, and he was contented about it. Although thought of now never going to be able to talk to her was killing him. Life goes on, thought Kshitij and went about his daily routine albeit with a heavy heart.

Two days later there popped a message on his mobile…

Her: Want to talk. Video call tonight at 10?

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Disclaimer: Use of “iPhone”, “WhatsApp” & “Facebook” has been done only to make story contemporary. Author does not support or promote any of these personally.

Angst

Posted on: August 24, 2019

Gopi looked at the frail figure lying in bed in front of her. Alekhya was a far cry from the tyrant that she used to be. It was almost pitiable to see her mother-in-law in such a state. Gopi believed strongly in Karma and for her this was what Alekhya had to pay for her deeds.

There was a time when Alekhya had made life of her daughter-in-law hell. Manipulative to the core, Alekhya had not left any stone unturned to harass the newly wedded girl. Well, it was wrong to say that harassment was only reserved for the daughter-in-law; Alekhya was a very bitter woman and her wrath had been bestowed on her own children since they were born. She was a very complex woman; loving and caring for all the house-helps but emotional schemer for the family members. Gopi; a very happy-go-lucky, full of life girl; had come to despise her mother-in-law to the core. It was difficult to forget for Gopi how her own daughter was treated by Alekhya.

Life had come full circle now. Alekhya was in and out of ICU wards for the past two years and was completely at Gopi’s mercy. It was getting tiring for her emotionally, mentally and financially to keep Alekhya out of pain and floating. If she was truthful to herself, there were times when Gopi wanted to strangulate Alekhya with her bare hands but now that Alekhya was at her mercy she was feeling pity instead of hatred.  She saw the journey of this once spiteful woman from being an oppressor to a living vegetable. When she took upon herself to take care of this woman when the first hospitalization happened, she had really thought it was her duty to take care of her home’s elderly. But as soon as the first crisis was over, Alekhya started showing her true colours and the whirlwind of emotions wreaked havoc within Gopi. Was it worth going through the pain again? But within a few weeks, Alekhya was in the hospital again and Gopi did not have a choice but to be by her side. One after another, there were more than 10 critical hospitalizations within a span of one year and slowly Alekhya was reduced to a vegetative painful life of not really living and not dying. During this period Gopi went through the ups and downs of emotions. She did not want to take care of this woman who had made her younger life miserable. At the same time the moral duty pulled her towards what needed to be done. She hated the fact that just because Gopi was legally and socially bound she was expected to take care of her ailing mother-in-law, who had not given any love throughout the time that they knew each other. Forget love, she did everything in her capacity to make sure that Gopi was not happy. It also distraught Gopi that since Alekhya was now old all her previous actions were to be forgotten and she was to nurse her. And yet, here she was, being well taken care by the very person whom she abused. Karma plays both ways!

As Gopi looked at the ailing figure in front of her, she wished Alekhya death again but this time not out of spite but to end the suffering of another human being.

Amen!

*****

Click Here to read Alekhya’s Life Story

 

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

Flaw

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?!

“I loved him with all my heart, for years
Then one day I started loving myself too
And we separated!!”

~ Sakhi

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Sakhi's Laghukatha by Sakhi (aka Dr. Dhara Shah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at sakhi.laghukatha@gmail.com.

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