Kavya adjusted her pallu and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked beautiful, no one would say she was the mom of a 5 year old. Little Pihu came running into the room and hugged her. "Mumma I am so excited today. 4 days of masti!! Weddings are so much fun. I cannot wait any longer to meet Neha and Prisha. Let's go soon Mumma we have to practise dance steps for sangeet".
"Ya we are going beta, Prisha's Mummy called, they have landed. They will meet us directly in the hall for today's ceremony". Pihu ran into the other room. Kavya joined her mother to see if any help was required. It was her cousin sister's wedding and the whole family had gathered in Pune. Everyone were so busy these days with their jobs in different cities that they hardly met. It was nice to be meeting all cousins after so long.
The doorbell rang and she opened it, she stood still for a second. It was Bhushan Mama with his wife and 2 children, they were settled in London since past 12 years and seldom came down. Mama hugged her "Arre wah Kavya you look stunning, you have grown so big and so beautiful. It's such a pleasure to see you".
Kavya felt her whole body go stiff, she could feel goosebumps and she felt like throwing up. She somehow excused herself and ran to the bathroom and almost puked. She washed her hands twice and sat on the bed. Her mind suddenly went back to those dreadful days when she was a little innocent 8 year old. Mama had come to stay with them as he got a job in Pune. She remembered the first time he asked her to sit on his lap and as she was busy eating the lollipop he gave her, his hand slid under her dress. She jumped down startled but he grabbed her again. And he whispered in her ears "my little girl this is our secret just between the 2 of us, we will have lots of fun. I will give you chocolates daily and get all your favourite comics but don't tell anyone else. They will think you are a bad girl and send you away". She got frightened, her mom always seemed in a frenzy and kept telling her " if you don't behave well, we will send you to boarding school". And she remained silent. Though she did not know this was sexual molestation, she knew it din't feel right. It felt dirty. It felt wrong. If it was just a game why did she feel so unclean and the urge to wash herself. This continued till one day when she felt she could take it no longer, Mama announced that he will be moving to Mumbai where he had got a transfer. It was as if a huge load had been lifted off her shoulders, she silently thanked God.
She remembered visiting her relatives in Mumbai after a few months and there he was. He smiled and talked to her as if nothing had happened. But she was on guard. She made sure she maintained more than a few inches distance from him. She saw her cousin Swati look uneasy , Swati was 2 years younger to her , she saw Mama hold Swati's hand and Swati was almost in tears. She knew her place was now taken by Swati. Though her heart went out to her cousin, a small part of her was secretly glad that it was not her anymore, someone else had taken that place. A few months later she overheard her parents talking that Mama had found a new opportunity in London and he would be moving. She never met him after that and life moved on. Once she was old enough to understand what had actually happened to her, the trauma was immense. It always felt wrong and she would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night at times perspiring and fear on her face. But once she understood the full picture, of what had actually transpired, she went through myriad emotions. Guilt, fear, anger, pain , seething rage, contempt.
Years passed and she had buried her ugly past deep in her heart and tried to lock away the memories in some far flung place that she even she couldn't reach, but had the wounds healed? They sprang alive today with a vengeance and they seemed as fresh as they felt so many years ago.
Someone knocked the door and she jolted back to present. There was little she could do now in the midst of this function. She went to join the proceedings. As she entered the venue her eyes fell on her daughter and her friends. Innocent little girls who were dancing to the hearts glory, oblivious about the big bad world and the danger lurking around them in the form of predators like Bhushan Mama.
Sometimes a moment comes unwarned out of the blue which changes your life, it gives you courage to do things which you could have never dreamt of doing, it fills you with bouts of courage and fearlessness. This was the moment. No she would not let Pihu, Prisha and other little girls fall prey to such monsters. The man who had robbed her of her innocence was roaming around and people were looking up to him in awe unaware of the sins he had committed. There was nothing for her to be ashamed of, or to hide. As a mother, as a woman- she had to break her silence for her own sake, for the sake of her daughter and all the innocent girls out there. She had to stop torturing herself and feeling guilty and redemption was only by showing her wounds and exposing the man who hurt her.
She owed this much to herself , to her child. The storm had passed and now there was a calmness all around her. She walked towards her Mom with a composed face " Ma there is something I need to tell you and Baba".
Bhagwan you speak English with your daughter? What is happening these days?
People want to show off and are forgetting their roots”. I have heard this many times. Earlier my
reaction used to be - apologetic. I would keep quiet and try to ignore the comment
and find an escape route. But now if someone dares to talk to me about this
matter, I snap them off then and there. I am unapologetic I don't think I have
done anything wrong which I need to feel ashamed about. So yes I do speak in
English at home and this is my first language. No qualms about it. And
it's not because of an inter caste marriage in fact I have been speaking
English as a first language right since childhood. To give you some background
on how this came to be. My mother’s parents belonged to Mangalore ( it's a
coastal town in Karnataka) they migrated to Bombay in search of a livelihood
when they were young. They married, had kids and their kids were brought up by
a maid. As my mom and her brother lived…
As Aesha tapped her heel restlessly at the Visa Consulate, one
might just think of her as yet another young woman who has set her heart on an
overseas dream, a future in the greener pastures and she is probably nervous if
her visa will be stamped or not as her fate can either be made or broken by
this one seal (or the lack of it). But for Aesha , her tumultuous mind couldn't
be tamed today. While she was at
the cusp of an important milestone in her career and getting the visa would
mean she inches one step closer to her dream professionally- somewhere she
shuddered to think of how it would impact her love life and the very foundation
of her marriage. It seemed like
yesterday- Aman and Aesha met at a sangeet and got talking. They hit it
instantly and never realized where time flew. They would always chuckle when
they got to know later that this had been set up by their parents. Aesha was a young, dynamic, super smart, intelligent woman who was
a great fan of Sheryl Sandberg and truly…
"And they lived happily ever after"- as Aesha closed the story book, little Anya was asleep, her tiny hand holding Aesha's arm firmly. With one more loving look at the little angel, she gently unwound her arm and tucked her into bed. She sighed and wondered- Is it really happily ever after? Maybe she should alter these fairy tales and tell her daughter more real world stories. The chilly air outside continued to blow. Aesha looked out of the window. It had been 6 months she moved to New York and she loved the vibrant and energetic city. Little Anya had settled down quickly too, much to her surprise and delight. She absolutely loved the day care in Aesha's office where she spent her day with other kids of her age. Aesha loved the new office, the energy levels and enthusiasm was at a new high. Being the Head Office, it was abuzz with activity. One thing that she found in stark contrast to India was that people took their work life balance very seriously. No one would st…