Saturday, May 30, 2009

Home

She was a small town girl. But she loved her city – Pune. The fun hangout joints in camp, the beautiful roads and greenery around the cantonment area… it was a lovely city, with amazing weather, and lots of friends made Rashi’s life full of fun.

She had just started college when she bumped into the tall, dark, handsome 23 year old Steve, who was pursuing MBA from another college in the city. Some of his friends were in the same college as hers, and soon, one meeting led to another, and before they knew it, they were in love.

They had been together for hardly a year, when Rashi’s parents came to know and objected to the relationship. “Beta you are too young to know what’s good for you. And that too, a Christian guy…” “So what mama, you know he is going to finish his MBA, and get a good job. He is from a good family, and he loves me.” “All that is OK, but our family doesn’t allow inter caste marriage Rashi…” “I don’t care Dad, I will marry him and only him; else I’ll die a spinster.”

Now Rashi’s was the only child of her parents, and having brought up their daughter with some much love and care, they could not break her heart, and finally agreed to the alliance. At the tender age of 19 Rashi decided to get married, she could not bear to stay away from Steve anymore. The wedding happened with much fanfare. Steve’s parents were not ecstatic either, but like Rashi’s parents, they too had given in to the demands of their son. “Kids today…” they all nodded in resignation.

Life was a bed of roses for Steve and Rashi. Steve got a great job with an MNC in the Sales & Marketing Department. Rashi became a homemaker, after she graduated. They bought a small house and decorated it with knick-knacks. Soon they were blessed with a baby boy, they named him Ashish. And he was a blessing. With his arrival, the household became even happier, the couple came closer, and money flowed in. They were having the time of their life!

Chapter 2.

Towards their 12th anniversary however, Rashi began to figure subtle changes in Steve’s behaviour. His increasing disinterest in the affairs of the house and his family, late nights, worry lines appearing on his face. Something was not quite right. “Maybe he is having an affair”, she thought once. But she later dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. “C’mon, Steve can’t do that to me”, she consoled herself, and went on with her life.

Trouble was, Steve WAS having an affair, and though he was doing his best to keep it hidden, he had a nagging suspicion that Rashi knew. He still cared for Rashi and Ashish, but somewhere the magic, the charm of his marriage had faded, and he started to feel trapped. “Typical Man”, he told himself once, but he could not help but get attracted towards the new head of PR, Ms. Sanjana Kapoor.

He was wondering when and how he would break the news to Rashi when she came to him one day, teary eyed, holding his cell phone in her hand, looking at him accusingly. Even before she said it, he knew she knew. She had read one of the many SMS’s the two had shared over the past few months, and though Steve always hid or deleted them, this was one SMS he forgot about. “Maybe it was God’s wish that she should know”, he wondered, as she said “Why Steve, why?” And all he could say was “I’m sorry, but I love her.” She broke down. Her Steve. She could not believe he could do this. But he had. And she could do nothing about it. Or could she?

She asked about Ashish and her future. He said he would give her alimony, but it was over. He was leaving. She pleaded with his parents to talk to him; they could not make him change his mind. At last she gave up signed the divorce papers and Steve left Rashi and Ashish. She felt terrible alone. Even though she was getting some money towards basic expenses, she knew she could not live on it, and needed to work. After being a homemaker for so long, she found it difficult to find a job. She managed to get a teacher’s position in a nearby playschool. With her meager salary, some help from Steve and some from her parents, she managed somehow. But the thought of future scared her.

And Ashish was in a world of his own. After 11 years of fun-filled childhood, he had suddenly grown up. He fights between his parents, his mother crying all day, his father not coming home for days… He felt cheated out of his childhood, his carefree days which were supposed to have no responsibility. He was dragged in court during the divorce case, but there was no custody battle, as the new Mrs. Steve George did not want Rashi’s child in her house.

Ashish felt like a burden. His father did not want him; his mother could not afford him. Rashi went into chronic depression. She soon started to neglect her own and Ashish’s welfare. She would frequently miss office; forget to feed Ashish, not talk to anyone for days. And Ashish took care of himself. He learned how to make basic omelets, maggi etc, travelled to and from school on his own, did all schoolwork by himself, and managed the funds while his mother withered away. Soon the grandparents agreed that it’s best they put him in boarding school, while Rashi underwent treatment for depression. He thought it would be the last he saw of her. He was wrong.

Chapter 3


His days in boarding school were the best days of Ashish’s life. He was away from the troubled environment at home, though he missed having parents like other kids. He felt a bit lonely, a bit angry to not have a regular family life. But time heals, and he healed too. So did Rashi. After a few years, finally she came face-to-face with her son. She looked better, sounded cheerful. She hugged and kissed her “boy all grown up”, but somewhere, something was missing. They did not share the same bond anymore. Was it her fault, had she done everything she could in her power to give a good life to Ashish, he could not decide. But Ashish felt distant. This woman was not his mother. He tried to be happy for her, but could not find any words to reciprocate her emotions. Rashi knew she was pretending everything was fine, but she had lost her son a long time ago.

She tried to re-establish contact with Ashish. She would visit him often and discuss his progress. In spite of her personal trauma, he was a good student with bright prospects. “Intelligent, just like Steve…” she would comment. They talked about Steve sometimes. He was married with kids, and was living in Mumbai. They spoke once in a few months, generally to check up on each other. But Ashish did not like to talk about him. He had never forgiven his father for abandoning him. He never tried to meet or talk to him and liked it that way. Not that Steve tried either. Anyway, the visits continued and the relationship grew.

One day, Rashi gave him some shocking news “I have someone in my life I want you to know about” she said. “I met him in one of the support groups for divorcees. We met and instantly connected. Even he has gone through a sad divorce himself, and he understands my pain. We have found solace in each other, and would like to get married. I hope you can find some way to be happy for us.” Ashish was taken aback for a moment. It was happening again. He was scared, for her. What if even this too did not work out?

He smiled and congratulated his mother, who instantly gauged that something was amiss. But then, it was big news, and she thought better to give him time to digest it. And he did. He knew he had no other choice but to be OK with it. He knew that somewhere his mother would not go ahead with it if she felt Ashish did not want it. He met the man, and he looked OK to him. And Rashi’s second wedding took place, with no fanfare, just a simple court marriage ceremony. Only her parents and Ashish attended it.

By now Ashish had finished school and started his engineering course from IIT Mumbai. On the other hand, his mother and step father also settled in happy matrimony in Bangalore where his stepfather had his business. Many times they asked Ashish to come and live with them, but he refused. He felt much better at a distance. He would never feel at home with them. They desperately wanted a child, and since she married and had Ashish early, she still had a chance at 38. And one year later, though with much difficulty, they finally had a baby girl they named Ahana. Ashish went to meet them and the new baby once a year, and was pleased to see his mother, happy once again, and his little half-sister growing up so fast. She was not his real sister; he was not his real father, but close enough. They extended their love and support, and he did his best to reciprocate.


Chapter 4.


It was during his final year that he started to prepare for his MBA. Just the day after the CAT exam, he got that phone call that changed his life. It was his step father. “Ashish, I’m sorry; your mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is quite advanced and she will have to undergo intensive treatment and surgery to make it. It would be great if you could spare some time to meet her.” Ashish held on to the phone long after the call went dead. He was aghast. At the unfair games God played with mankind. “Look at my poor mom, suffering cancer after all that she’s gone through, and look at my father, who is hale as a hog, even for all the sins he has committed.” After he had finished cursing the powers, and shedding a few secret tears in prayer for his mother, he went to visit her.

When he saw her, full of tubes and needles, he realized how much he really cared for her. He felt strong emotion for his family for the first time in years. After all blood is thicker than water. He spent a whole 10 days with her, and worked double hard on his projects and exams so he could get more and more time with her. Rashi struggled with the treatment. Many chemotherapy and surgery sessions later they realized they could do anything to save her. The cancer had spread too much to be controlled, and they had done everything in their power. She had little time left.

Was it destiny that on the very same day Ashish’s most cherished dream of making it to an IIM came true, his mother breathed her last. Coincidentally he had made it to IIM-Bangalore, the very city she had made her home. With a heavy heart, Ashish completed the cremation rites. A distant looking Steve came to attend the funeral, but Ashish refused to let him disgrace his mother’s memory with his presence. His step-father stepped up in the way a father would, and joined hands with him in putting Rashi to a peaceful sleep. As always, his step dad had proved his loyalty and love for his mother, and his care and concern for Ashish. He had brought her out of a miserable past, given her a source of unlimited joy-Ahana, and a peaceful life till her untimely death. He had proved to be a dutiful husband, a doting father to Ahana, and gave support, even if mostly financial, to help Ashish realize his ambitions. And now there he was, standing next to the burning pyre, looking forlorn and broken, alone with the little Ahana, who had just started to know her mother. How will her ever explain the little princess where her mommy had gone? Ashish felt a deep sense of sympathy for him, and guilt for not spending more time with the family in the past. He wondered if he could ever make up for all the time he lost

Finally he did get an opportunity. Little Ahana probably did not understand fully the implications of what really happened, but even she sensed and felt the loss and sadness, and knew she would never have mommy again. But she knew something that would make things better. After the prayer meeting for Rashi was over, and everyone had left, as Ashish was saying goodbye to his stepfather, Ahana went up to him and tugged on his shirt sleeve. “Dada, now that mommy’s gone, why don’t you please stay with me?” Ashish did not know what to say. With a lump in his throat, and glistening eyes, he picked up the 4 year old and took her in his arms. He looked at his stepfather, who said “Yes, Ashish, why don’t you. I mean you will be based out of this city only, why don’t you come home? I realize with your mother gone, you might not want to stay, after all I am your stepfather and Ahana your step sister. But if you ever wanted a home, you know where you can find us.” And without a moment’s hesitation, Ashish hugged his father and sister: he knew exactly what he was going to do. He was his Father, she was his Sister, and they were Family. And when he finally entered the house in Bangalore with all his stuff, he knew that after 10 years, he was finally HOME.

9 comments:

Yashika Totlani said...

If this is how slow you're gonna put 'em up... im not reading them! :P Nothing to comment on! Except the pace, ofcourse :D

Sugar&Spice said...

@yahsika... patience my dear patience... atleast let me give some time to others to read teh fisr part before i put teh second one online!!

Yashika Totlani said...

New comment after reading the newly posted Part 2 -

Hmm! Now this is one story I like! Fast paced, and entertaining. Obviously, I dont like Steve and think the "typical man" comment on himself was pertinent. The line abt Ashish being cheated out of his childhood made me shift in my chair. How many of us have felt that way due to reasons not necessarily so adverse?

Going on to read Part 3 and 4. This is intriguing! Have a grammatical check for you-
Part 2, para 3- "im sorry, but i love (not lover) her"

Sugar&Spice said...

@yashika...thanks for the comment.
i agree with the cheated out of childhood observation. many times I have felt the same way when i saw either parent not able to efficiently play their parts in certain situations and i had to take control.
will correct all typos.

Arslan said...

Nice to see some story writing on a blog. I've just started writing a few short stories on mine. Do check out.

Will be following this.. :)

Sugar&Spice said...

@arslan... thanks, will check your blog too.

Gagan said...

In today's world when divorce is becoming increasingly common, I dont think even women folk go into a depression over such matters... ofcourse the pain n heartbreak is there, but more often than not, I find that with a little support from their children and family members, they pick themselves up quite well. i look forward to subsequent chapters and to find out how it turns out for the characters...

Sugar&Spice said...

@gagan... i agree its easier these days, but its still a taboo, and esp for a housewife, managing all by herself is pretty scary. btw, next part is already up!!

Eline V. said...

Well, this story sounds interesting...I think I'll follow the blog! :)