Love is Blind

Be careful with love glasses. They are opaque.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every Eid. That said it all. Their paths would never have crossed if it hadn’t been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. Gayatri wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all ?

Syed and Gayatri didn’t mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect it. It creeps up suddenly. When someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter, and maybe even intimacy. Love doesn’t look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

The events of the day she first met Syed played themselves accurately in her mind’s eye. She had thought that it would be a Saturday like any other Saturday. She would work as a receptionist in Shivam Musical Instruments in Chennai and go home at midday. But one phone call from Sudha had changed her plans. ‘Hey, I’ve to meet my boyfriend at 5 o’clock in CCD. You’ll come along ? Gayatri, I won’t take no for an answer. I’ll pick you up at 3 o’ clock. We’ll go shopping and then to CCD, alright ?’

Gayatri had never talked to any guy. She had tried to avoid them as much as possible. Love, relationships, dates, all these things had held no importance for her. She had been an obedient daughter and someday, had wished to get married to a boy her parents chose for her. But, there she had been sitting, in CCD, along with Sudha, her boyfriend Ravi and Rav’s (as Sudha called him) friend Syed. Syed had greeted her warmly and smiled. He had complimented her that she was looking pretty in her saree. When they decided to leave and catch up later, Syed had asked Gayatri for her Whatsapp number. Sudha had laughingly said, ‘Syed, she won’t give you her number. I’ll text you her number.’ Gayatri had been uncomfortable with Sudha giving her phone number to Syed, but by the time she could object, the die had been cast.

Syed had texted her the next day, ‘Hi gayatri, Syed here. How are you today? Can we chat?’ Gayatri hadn’t wished to continue the conversation and encourage him, but she couldn’t hold herself back. They had started by chatting on Whatsapp. Gradually, he had started calling her whenever she was free. They had even met a few times.

Gayatri had come to know that he was the heir to Siddique Group of Companies, an only child and a Mamma’s boy. He was a teetotaller and had great respect for women. He worked as a real estate agent under his father and made quite a lot of money by cracking a lot of high-value deals. Moreover, he was tall, fair, always dapper and walked with confidence. All this had made him even more handsome in her eyes.

They had been dating for almost a year now. Gayatri had to accompany her mother to the temple every Saturday and Syed visited the Masjid every Friday. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. She didn’t want them to know. Syed made her happy. She could be herself with him. She didn’t need to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. Here she was, on one such Thursday, awaiting him in the same CCD where they had first met. She looked at her watch. Syed was late.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. “On my way. Have something important to tell you.”

Gayatri stared at it and realised she had knots in her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mind. What did he want to tell her ? Was he going to break up with her? Over the last few days, he hadn’t properly replied to her queries, answering only with yes or no. He hadn’t been present in the moment, mentally. His thoughts had been elsewhere.

In a few minutes, Syed arrived in his BMW car and called her. ‘Hey darling, are you inside CCD ?’ She said ‘Yes, I am, Syed.’ ‘Yeah, so I’m waiting in my car outside. I want to take you somewhere. Come quickly.’ ‘Ya, I’m coming.’

She stepped into the brand new BMW and they zoomed off. Gayatri asked, ‘Where are we going, baby ?’ ‘That’s a surprise, my love. You’ll know soon enough.’

Syed applied the brakes outside The Leela Palace and both of them walked inside. Gayatri noticed that he was in a very cheerful mood. But, she didn’t and couldn’t guess what was going on in his mind. Syed said to the waiter, ‘Waiter, we’ll have kozhakattai, seeyam and idiyaappam.’ Gayatri was still puzzled. It was the first time he had taken her to such a swanky hotel and had ordered South Indian delicacies. Syed could sense her curiosity. He signalled to the waiter to bring ice-cream. The waiter brought a bouquet and a card along with ice-cream. ‘Go on, take the bouquet and read what’s written in the card. It may be from a secret admirer of yours.’ And he winked. The card read: ‘To My Dearest Love, there’s nothing more I would wish for if I had you. You make my heart skip a beat every time I see you. You are and will always remain special to me. When I think of you, a warm feeling envelopes me and I fear losing you. My darling, I need you to help me overcome my fear. And you can help by allowing me to ask for your hand in marriage. From Your Love, Syed.’

Gayatri was stunned. She had no words to express her feelings. She knew that someday this would happen, yet she found it difficult to come to terms with what had happened. She had tears of joy in her eyes. Syed was saying, ‘Gayatri, I know that we both are from different religions and although it’s the 21st century, our parents won’t be too happy with this news. But, this is our life, Gayatri and we know what’s good and bad for us, right ? I’ll come to meet your parents soon, but before that you’ll have to tell them about me. I’ll do the same. What do you say?’ Gayatri took some time to collect her thoughts. Then she said, ‘I love you too Syed, and I don’t want to lose you. I’ll talk to my parents and try to convince them. But, it’s going to be a long-drawn out struggle and I need your support always.’ ‘I’m always there for you, love. Don’t worry. Come, I’ll drop you home.’

Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl. They met and found each other fairly attractive. They married and lived a fairly happy life. The End.

If only love stories were so simple…..

The next day was Good Friday. She had a holiday. Now is the time, she thought. She said, ‘Amma, I want to tell you and Appa something.’ Her mother was stringing jasmine flowers and her father was reading The Hindu. Both of them looked up, thinking what their daughter wished to tell them. Gayatri continued, ‘I haven’t told you both… I’ve been seeing a boy from a year. We love each other and want to get married. His name is Syed Khan.’ Her parents’ faces were blank. When they realised what she had just told him, hatred took its place in their eyes. Her mother strode up to her and gave her a tight slap. ‘Gayatri, how dare you! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Respectable girls from our Iyer community don’t do such things. And he’s not even a Tamilian. Muslim, aiyo aiyo! Did we bring you up with morals and customs only to face this day ? So you think you’ve become so smart that you have decided to live your life the way you want ? But remember my words, girl, our community will make you an outcast if you do such foolhardy things. And never will we accept a Muslim for a son-in-law, never. You are a disgrace to our community, to your parents. Perumal alone knows what all you’ve done with him! Slept with him before marriage, without even telling us, aiyo. Don’t stand in front of me. Just go away.’ Gayatri’s father did not utter a word. However, Gayatri sensed what her Appa was feeling at that moment, the feeling of being let down by the daughter he doted on.

Gayatri left the room feeling disheartened. There were tears in her eyes. Being an only child, her parents had showered love and care on her. Their only wish had been to get her married to a decent boy settled abroad, so that Gayatri could be financially stable once they were no more. She thought, ‘Why do I love Syed so much ? Love is a feeling which cannot be expressed in words, I agree. When did I become so brave that I could muster up courage to face my parents with such a news as this? Maybe it’s true what people say: Love makes you strong. I have to convince them somehow.’

Syed broke the news to his parents. Coincidentally, he also was an only child. His Ammi and Abbu were aghast. They reasoned that the girl didn’t eat non veg, wasn’t from their religion, etc. She was not what they had in mind for a daughter-in-law. Syed’s Ammi shuddered when she thought about how she would get on with a daughter-in-law who was a Hindu and didn’t know about their customs and traditions.

Here, Gayatri’s Amma had consulted a well-known Babaji who had given her a piece of cord to tie round her daughter’s wrist. It was meant to ward off the evil eye. When Gayatri came home from work one day, her mother said, ‘Come here. Let me tie this on your wrist. The bad spirits which have got hold of you will now become powerless. And I have given your horoscope to our astrologer. You will get married as soon as he finds a suitable groom for you.’ Gayatri was rendered speechless for a minute. ‘Amma, I’m fine. Nothing has happened to me. I’m not possessed by any spirit. I love Syed. And I want to marry him. Amma, Muslims are also humans. Their men and our men are the same. What is different is only the religion. Why don’t you understand? I’m fed up with you telling me what to do from childhood. For once, let me have it my way. Nowadays, inter-religion marriages have become common.’ ‘They may be common for your so called indecent friends like Shreya. I have told you a hundred times not to talk to girls like Shreya. See, how she’s hypnotised you!’ ‘Amma, Shreya has not done anything. So don’t involve her in this. And I will marry Syed, come what may. You accept it, well and good, if not, nothing can be done.’ ‘Chee, chee, Syed! What a name! To say it feels like I’m committing a sin.’ ‘Oh, Amma, you’re just impossible!’ said Gayatri and walked away.

As the never-ending struggle of the two lovebirds was going on, fate was crafting its own story. Syed’s mother started having breathlessness and bloating . When she went to the doctor, he said, ‘Mrs Khan, I cannot say what exactly you’re suffering from until you get these tests done.’ When she showed the test reports to the doctor, she got the shock of her life.

She was diagnosed to be in the later stages of cancer. This news literally sucked the life out of Syed and his father. Living each day became difficult for the three of them, for while she suffered physical trauma, they suffered mental trauma. Syed couldn’t bear to think that his Ammi would soon leave them.

Gayatri too became upset on hearing this. She told her mother about Syed’s mother’s illness. By now, Gayatri’s mother had tried all that she could. However, Gayatri remained firm. So her parents had also resigned themselves to fate and were willing to invite Syed home to talk to him. They were also secretly happy that his mother was going to die soon so Gayatri would be spared the torment of a mother-in-law. Moreover, he was rich.

However, Syed’s mother was adamant. Syed tried to make her understand. ‘Ammi, Gayatri is a good person. And to be practical, when you are no more, who will take care of Abbu and me? Marrying her is better than marrying a stranger. She is ready to convert to Islam and change her name for my sake. Which girl would do so much, tell me ?’

Finally, one day, Syed visited Gayatri’s home. If her parents didn’t give him the treatment he deserved, at least they didn’t make him feel inferior because they knew he was going through a rough patch. Gayatri also met his parents.

Syed’s mother’s condition worsened and the doctor pronounced that she had only 24 hours to live. On her death bed, she said to Gayatri, ‘Beti, I have brought up my son like a prince. Take good care of him. I wish I had a daughter like you. If Allah wishes, I’ll be born to you as your daughter. You have my blessings.’ Syed and Gayatri were crying uncontrollably. As she breathed her last, once again they proved to the world that love is blind.

An Unsung Hero

This incident happened in my college 2 years ago. 

It was around 3 pm. There were only a few of us for the lecture. The class was on the third floor. My ears picked up a faint mewing sound. Initially, i felt my mind was playing tricks on me. What could a cat be doing in a college building? Surely, no professor would bring her pet cat along to college, right? 😀 Then where is the sound coming from? 

I requested the teacher for a break to investigate this matter. And she gladly agreed. When i stepped outside the class, i could faintly make out that the sound was coming from the building opposite ours, that is the B. Com building. I looked in the direction of the building. And for a moment, i couldn’t believe my eyes! 

There, on the ledge of the third floor building opposite ours, was a big fat cat, mewing desperately for help. Apparently, it had jumped over the parapet and was too scared to jump back up. Soon, a crowd gathered to watch this cat stuck helplessly and crying out for help. After making enquiries, we came to know that it had been stuck there from around 8 am that morning, and nobody had even bothered about it. That means, almost 7 hours without food and water. 

We had to help the cat somehow, else it would have died right there on the ledge out of hunger and thirst, and we couldn’t possibly have watched it dying. Now, began the brainstorming as to how the cat could be rescued. I called up one of my NCC friends, and told him about the matter. I don’t remember now what the reason was why he refused, whether he was not in college at that moment or he was simply scared and embarrased to admit it, his help could not be obtained. Then, a friend and i googled PETA to see if they could help us in any way, but it seems PETA doesn’t have any rescue centre in Pune. The peons proved to be of absolutely no help. Moreover, none of the authorities could be met to discuss what was to be done. 

Everybody was perplexed. What would happen now? Would there be no help for the poor cat? Was it destined to die there on the ledge? What could possibly be done? Among the crowd was a guy. He was a random guy, you would not spot him out in a crowd, he wasn’t famous. He volunteered alongwith two of his guy friends, to get onto the ledge and save the cat, even if it meant risking his life, as he would surely die if he fell down from the third floor. There wasn’t any rope which could be tied to his waist, or even if there was, it could not be procured. 

The three of them rushed to the building, and onto the third floor. His friends held his hands and lowered him onto the ledge. Once his feet were firmly on the ledge, they left his hands free. He called the cat to him. Thankfully, it recognised its rescuer and came to him. He lifted it up and gave it to his friends who left it on the other side, near the stairs. Again, they carefully hoisted him up and he was safe on the other side. 

We thanked him profusely. He had indeed performed an act of daredevilry. Anything could have happened to him, had he not been careful. Inspite of that, he risked his life to save the life of an innocent soul. He himself volunteered for doing the job. He showed bravery and courage, and a lot of maturity. He didn’t think about the ‘What if’s’, he instead thought about the ‘What if i don’t’. In that one act of his, he earned a lot of good karma. 

Every single day in our lives, somewhere someone is risking their life to save another. These people don’t get recognition and popularity for their deeds though, like our soldiers. They are the unsung heroes. But among us folk, they are the real heroes. And i have tried to give some recognition to that hero through this post. Have you come across any such hero in your life? If so, share their story with us in the comments below. And do like and share this post! Till next time with another of my life’s experiences! 🙂

Infinity and beyond- Chapter 2

A. D. 20,160 

Chapter 1:Recap 

The famous immortal scientist Dr. X is the lone survivor on Earth. Dr. X receives an offer from Mercurians, the inhabitants of Mercury, for the post of Prime Scientist. That would mean leaving his beloved Earth forever, as stated in one of the clauses. If he accepts the offer, he can never return and will lose his identity as an Earthling among scores of Mercurians. What will Dr. X decide?

I have finally come to a decision- after much deliberation-of heading to Mercury. I know I’ll have to leave Earth behind, but i also know that I’m not going to regret my decision. Earth is just another celestial body in our Milky Way. There is no human, no plant, no animal left now. All around me is barrenness, a wasteland, a useless piece of earth. And the entire human race was responsible for it. If only they had noticed the signs of climate change in time and acted upon it… Anyway, all that is history. We dug our own graves. 


On Mercury i can pursue my research on the psychology of outer space beings, as i will be appointed as the Prime Scientist. It will take me a few days to pack my research apparatus, material and my belongings and head to Mercury in my spaceship. My belongings are my PRA(Personal Robotic Assistant), my telescope and a rare gold plate passed on to me by my ancestors.

So, finally here I am on Mercury. Don’t think it’s too hot, I told you, the sun stopped shining ages back. I bend down to the little Mercurians. Their leader, Qzekfa is saying something to me. ‘Dr. X, you may start work immediately’, is what the translator assistant is repeating over and over again, till it is replaced by a new sentence. ‘Let me make you aware of the payment system followed on our planet. You will provide your services to our planet, in return, you will be allotted a number of measure which when showed to a seller, will enable you to buy products of your desire. Food will be provided to all the residents, by me, at specified timings. That’s all you need to know at the moment. Now, my assistant will guide you to your work chamber.’

I’m baffled. Such a distinguished and unique form of governance. I’ve much more to learn about how things work here. Not that I have any choice in this matter! 

The Mercurians’ status and jobs are decided at the time of their birth itself. The ones with lower status become farmers, construction workers, slaves, etc. I wish to write about the farms here. A type of crop is grown which is not for resident consumption, rather it is fodder for the Mercurian cows. These cows, in turn, give milk which is used by Mercurians and cow flesh is used to feed the population. Farmers only supervise the work done by robots, they don’t do any manual work themselves. Construction workers, likewise, supervise robots who build structures and which are over in a period equal to 20 Earth minutes. 

They have only a single tier system in place, instead of a three tier form of security which was followed on Earth: they only guard their skies and have a tough surveillance system in place. Rarely have invasions taken place till today. 

Ps: in my next chapter I’m going to reveal the secret of my immortality

Let me sleep a little more…

Sleep is a respite for the mind and body,

 You need at least 6 hours of it to remain healthy;

But I don’t know why people don’t let me sleep,

I find it tough my tolerance level to keep;

Someone phones me at the break of dawn,

I can’t even control my yawn;

Or kids play cricket so loudly under my window,

I have to get up and scream at them to keep their voices down;

Almost everyday my mom complains that I don’t get up early,

But I say, “Mom, i only get vacation for two months, not yearly!”

On Sundays, the sweeper-women hold discussions under the tree,

They always choose the bench outside my window, they are free;

 All this troubled me earlier but now it doesn’t,

My ears have trained themselves to keep their mouth shut and my brain they tell shouldn’t;

Some people sleep less out of compulsion, some out of choice,

But never is sleeping more seen as nice;

Some people need a lot of sleep and there’s no need to shame them,

It’s the way their bodies were built, no matter whether it’s a her or him;

I want to sleep for 10 hours a night and more,

Because i understand my body needs it and i know myself to the core!                                            

Abandon

There was once a family: the father an astronaut, the mother a housewife and the daughter in college. They were a happy family but the husband was fed up of his wife’s nagging. He wanted to put an end to it somehow. It was the year 2100. 

One day, the husband decided to do away with his wife altogether. He was under the impression that his wife was the only one who nagged her husband. 😀 So he invited her on a drive in his new spaceship with his team. But the daughter wouldn’t leave her mother’s side. So he decided to let matters take their own course. 

So they set off on their spaceship. After 24 hours of flying, they reached Mercury. The husband and his team said that they wanted to work on a project to improve Mercury and conduct some tests as to how plants grew in virtually oxygen free conditions and how the entire mankind could build structures and perhaps live there in about two decades. A few rich people were already living on this planet.

The husband suggested the mother and daughter take a round about outside the ship and look at the mountains and observe how Earth looked from Mercury. So both of them took an oxygen cylinder each and set off. They took in the scene before their eyes. High mountains, craters, unusual plants, unknown animal species, black sky, radiant Earth and its Moon, satellites, it was hard to believe they were actually on Mercury, a planet where no man had gone before a hundred years. 

They returned to the ship after a few hours. The husband was delighted with his experiments and informed them that they would be staying there for about a month of Earth days. The daughter was very excited. 

The days flew by. A day lasts a few hours on Mercury. The husband and his team embarked on a project of building them a house so that they could come there on a vacation. Both mother and daughter were very happy. 

Then one day, the husband said that his team had to urgently go back to Earth as some unexpected problem had occurred. So they flew back leaving mother and daughter behind. 

They hoped he would come back to take them. But he never came. They were desperate to get off the planet. But how could they? They didn’t know anything about the ship controls, their oxygen was running out and they wanted to get back to their own race. The people who lived on that planet were unreachable by the high mountains and they were known to be very unfriendly. 

The daughter suggested they take a look into the ship to see if she could figure out a way to fly back. They stumbled upon a female astronaut working on the ship. When they questioned her, she said she had no idea when they would come back. She hadn’t got any instructions. 

From the window of the ship, the mother spotted a group of school students out on an excursion. She immediately got down the ladder and called out to them. But they were too far for them to hear her. Sounds don’t travel far on Mercury, given the lack of oxygen.

The mother looked dejectedly at her daughter standing at the window. But she was smiling. The mother was puzzled. When the astronaut told her the team and her husband would arrive the next day, her joy knew no bounds. 

The next day, her husband arrived with his team. She said to him and cried, “Oh, i thought you had abandoned us here. ” The husband only said, “Happy New Year, darling! How did you like my surprise?” and laughed. Apparently, he had realised that all women nag their husbands and it didn’t matter which century you were born in. Because humans never change. 😀

A Purse Full of Love

WordPress Story- 2

Bala called herself ‘BPO Babe’. The reason: she worked with the Amazon call center in Pune. There were three of them in the flat: Bala, her brother Venkatesh and his wife Ramya. Their parents were no longer alive. Venkatesh was a software professional while Ramya was a homemaker. She didn’t like Bala very much and often, Venkatesh would come home to their never-ending arguments. Ramya was selfish by nature and disliked Bala staying with them in their 1 BHK. There’s no privacy at all.. And Venky is more bothered about her than me, she thought. For some days now, she had been thinking about ways to get rid of Bala, and marriage was the best excuse to get rid of her once and for all.
That night, after they had made love, Ramya said, ‘Venky, listen to me…It’s time we got Bala married. She’s been working for three years now. And it was your parents’ last wish to see her married.’ Though Venkatesh was sleepy, he heard what Ramya had said. Hmm…. must do something about it, he thought.

The next day, he got an advertisement inserted into The Times which read: ‘Looking for a Tamil Brahmin boy for beautiful girl, height 5’6”. Must be well-educated, financially sound. Contact:9876543210’.  

It can be said that Badri was the one Bala was destined for. He worked with Bank of America, owned a bungalow in one of the posh localities in Pune, had a Skoda and maintained a high standard of living. He lived with his widowed mother. 

When he came to their apartment to see Bala, he just couldn’t take his eyes off her. She had almond shaped eyes, a small nose, full lips and a figure shaped like an hourglass. She was also fair, unlike most Tamilians. Then and there he decided that he would make her his wife. Venkatesh asked whether Bala could continue working even after marriage. Badri answered in the affirmative and said that his mother wouldn’t stop her daughter-in-law from going to work as both mother and son were quite modern.

Her brother liked Badri and Ramya was overjoyed. Preparations for the wedding began in full swing. 

Soon, the day arrived. Bala and Badri sat behind the sacred fire, doing all that the priest told them to do. Badri tied three knots of the taali around her neck. Finally, she was his. Venkatesh blessed her and said, ‘Bala, you’re no longer a girl. You’ve turned into a married woman. Take care of Badri and his mother. May God bless you.’ Bala replied, ‘Thank you Anna,’ and they both bent to touch his feet.

As Bala entered their spacious room with a tumbler of milk, she felt nervous imagining what was in store for her. What sort of a person is Badri? she thought. Will he be aggressive in his love-making? Will I be able to lead a happy life with him? One look at his kind eyes, sensual mouth, curly hair and the way he stood tall, clad in a white shirt and white dhoti set her fears at rest. 

‘Come here, my love,’ he said. She obeyed him and came closer. His arms held her in a tight embrace. Slowly, they moved to her waist and his palms felt her smooth skin. Bala felt shy and averted her gaze from his face. He lifted her chin up and said huskily, ‘Bala, I promise to give you a life full of happiness and satisfaction. You can trust me. I’ve been craving for you from the time I laid my eyes on your enticing body. I want you.’ And they kissed, each feeling the warmth of the other’s lips.

The next morning, Bala woke up early. Badri was still sleeping. As she took a shower, she remembered the touch of his hands the previous night, how he had made love to her in a gentle way. It all felt like a dream. She came out, draped in a sari with water dripping from her long hair. She strode up to him and kissed him on the lips. Badri mumbled dreamily, ‘Mmmm… Come closer..’ ‘Not now, darling. Come on, wake up and have your bath.’ It took a lot of coaxing to get him out of bed. After he had freshened up, he called her and said, ‘Get ready. We’re going for a movie.’ ‘Wait, let me tell Amma.’ ‘I’ll tell her, don’t worry. You get ready quickly, I’m waiting in the car.’ Bala smiled to herself as he left the room.

They went shopping in the mall and later went for the matinee show. Time had flown so fast, Bala hadn’t even realised. Badri was horny by the time they returned and they made love once again.

Badri had to go to work the next day. Bala woke him up early and she too got dressed as she had managed to get only two days leave for her wedding. Call center jobs are hectic, she thought and sighed. She laid out his favourite shirt, tie and trousers on the bed. He was ready in a few minutes’ time and they both got into the car. He dropped her at the Amazon office and zoomed off. 

Over the months, both of them got to know each other very well. Badri teased her by calling her ‘BPO Babe’ and she, in turn, teased him by calling him ‘Boring Banker’. Coincidentally, both their names started from the alphabet ‘B’. They had a tiny garden of their own and loved gardening. They planted a hibiscus and a mango sapling, the hibiscus symbolising her and the mango symbolising him.

Badri was in a senior position at work and would carry his work laptop home with him. His job was his first priority. Often, he would come home late into the night, drunk. When asked, he would make some excuse that they had a business meeting cum party and if he would say no, he’d come across as being unmanly. Bala often chided him for driving his car in a drunken state but he brushed aside her worries saying nothing would happen to him. It was obvious that the excessive workload was getting him.

Gradually, he began to come home heavily drunk and started beating her with his belt. He used to treat her like a slave and not make eye contact with her. His mother, being an old woman and Badri being her only child, blissfully ignored her son’s behaviour. 

Initially, the old woman had agreed to Bala working in the BPO but now, she didn’t fancy the idea. She created a scene, one day when Badri was at home, on the topic that Bala was not taking adequate care of an old woman like her and that he should tell her to leave her job. Badri’s heart went out to his mother who was sobbing in a corner of the house and sternly ordered Bala to send in her resignation as she didn’t need to earn when her husband was bringing home the money.

Bala’s mother-in-law never let go of an opportunity to abuse her for bringing very little dowry. Bala was fed up of such comments and felt bad and insulted. Her dream of a happy family was crumbling to pieces. Bala had her doubts that her husband was seeing another woman as she once found a condom in his trouser pocket. He never used protection when he was with her. But she feared questioning him lest he beat her up. Badri had also begun to force himself on her. She would lie there, her thoughts far away and let him have his way.

Even though she had been reduced to nothing more than a servant in the day and a free prostitute at night, life had some surprises in store for her. They had been married for 3 years now. When she vomited once, she passed it off as food poisoning. But when it happened a second time, she bought a pregnancy test kit and it showed that she was indeed pregnant. She told her mother-in-law, who smiled on hearing the news. Bala was on cloud nine and eagerly awaited Badri’s arrival. She thought now that she was pregnant, Badri would be happy and give up drinking. 

But, she was in for a shock when Badri was angry at her for becoming pregnant. ‘How did this happen? You know I’m not ready to support a baby right now!’ He was in two minds. It was his baby, after all, he would become a father which was something he had always wanted. However, he feared that he would lose his freedom, it would put a check on his going to the discotheque and he’d have to shoulder the additional responsibility of looking after a child. The baby will keep me occupied when I’m at home, leaving me no time for my recreational activities, he thought. And it happened that his negative self won. He said, ‘Get the baby aborted. We can have children later on.’ 

Bala broke down. She had never imagined that he would say such a thing. Oh, where was her dear Badri who had loved her so much? She felt it was a stranger sitting in her room, on her bed. She corrected herself, her husband’s room and on his bed. Nothing was hers in this house, not even her relations. The memory of how both of them had woken up in bed one morning and seen the sun as it rose from the horizon came to her. She dried her tears and switched off her bedside lamp.

Badri and his mother had a long discussion the next morning. His mother tried to convince him. He was already 32 years of age and he ought to expand his family now. Her ardent wish was to see her grandson before she closed her eyes forever. Bala stood as a silent spectator to the drama. Badri simply couldn’t disagree with his mother and agreed reluctantly to have the baby. Bala said a silent prayer to God.

Her mother-in-law took her to the lady gynaecologist that evening. The doctor checked her and assured them that there was nothing to worry, in fact they were lucky that Bala was going to have twins. She didn’t disclose their sex as it was illegal. Badri’s mother fervently hoped and prayed that it should be both boys or at least a boy and a girl. 

Bala continued doing the household chores as exercise was essential for her babies’ growth. Her mother-in-law’s behaviour  towards her had softened to a great extent. She began to make her eat nutritious foods and never once scolded her.

The due date was near and the old woman was getting anxious. A day before the due date, Bala went into labour and at the stroke of midnight, delivered two chubby and cute girls. 

Badri sat beside her, caressing his babies. His mother couldn’t contain herself and started abusing her for giving birth to two girls who were worthless and a liability. Badri said, ‘Amma, don’t shout. This is a hospital and one of the best ones too. They won’t tolerate you and will tell you to shut up. So say whatever you want when she gets home.’ His mother sealed her mouth and went about looking after Bala grudgingly because Badri had a lot of pending office work and came only in the evenings to visit her.

Bala was discharged after five days and she settled into her new life. She wished to give her daughters the best of everything, love and care of both parents and their grandmother, good education and make them independent and self-reliant.

One day, Badri announced at home that the top authorities at his bank were planning to send him to New York for six months. Hearing this, Bala felt like holding him tight and not letting him go away from her.

It was 9 pm. Badri had to fly to Mumbai and then take the flight to New York. His suitcases were packed. Bala told him to call once he reached New York. ‘Happy journey’, she said. Badri kissed his daughters and looked at both of them lovingly, as if he was seeing them for the last time. He had told Bala to go to sleep and not bother about him, as both of them would start crying if they didn’t spot their mother around. They had grown into one-year olds. And so, she went to bed with a heavy heart.

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.

She felt as if a part of her was missing. In his absence, the bedroom, house, garden, trees held no importance for her. She was unsure whether Badri had really come to love her children or had shared his mother’s views on the subject. He hadn’t loved them like her. 

When she came down the stairs to her room, she spotted her mother-in-law sitting on the sofa and reading the newspaper. She greeted her and made to go to the kitchen when the old woman stopped her and said in a tone of disgust,’ Pack your bags, woman and get lost. I’ve arranged for another Tamil girl living in New York to marry my handsome boy. Did you really think I would feed you and your useless girls even after knowing that you can no longer become a mother again? See those papers on the table? They are divorce papers. Sign them and clear out of my house this instant. Don’t forget to take those curses with you.’

For a minute, Bala couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She stuttered,’ Does Badri know…?’ ‘Of course! He is very kind at heart, maybe that’s why he didn’t tell you. It’s all arranged.’ 

Tears flowed down the young mother’s eyes. Where will I go? I cannot stay for many days with Anna along with my daughters. Oh God, why are you trying me so much? Their birthday falls on Women’s Day, is this their fate? There was no use pleading with her mother-in-law.

Just then, the doorbell rang. On opening the door, Bala stood rooted to the spot. It was him. He had been her colleague in Amazon and her first love. He had had no money then. He asked her why she was crying and she told him. He said to the old woman, ‘Despite being a female, you despise a girl child! You are a curse, not those poor girls! Come with me, Bala. I’ll take care of your daughters. I’m a rich businessman now. Sign the papers and let’s go!’