The simple joys of life that I was missing- Short story
A Short Story.
The shrill sound of the alarm woke her up from her reverie. Bleary eyed she looked at the clock, how she wished she could turn it off and sleep. A few hours of peaceful, unperturbed sleep, just like she used to sleep when she was a little girl. In fact just a few years back, cuddled in the arms of Kshitij, But life had changed and sleep was a privilege she could no longer afford to indulge in. She hurriedly jumped out of bed and almost at the same instant grabbed her blackberry and started scanning the mails that would have arrived overnight from her counterparts in New York. Almost every other day there would be some or the other mail requiring her immediate response or approval or decision, In some cases, it would mean additional work, and she had to start her laptop and get on conference calls.
Since the day she had got promoted to a Senior Manager, the workload was always mounting. 24 hours a day seemed too less to cope with the ever increasing demands of work and home. She hardly had time for her kids, she had recently missed their annual day and there was such a furore at home. She sensed her husband Kshitij was not too happy, he was always supportive of her career but he did not look too happy about the direction in which their family life was heading.
On her way to office, as she was checking her mails, her signal turned week. She had forgotten to charge her blackberry. She cursed the timing but had no option. She looked out and thought about how swifty life had transformed the past few years. The young girl who was determined to make it big in the corporate world , who started off as an intern and slowly but steadily climbed the ladder. She was a perfectionist and always wanted to be the "better than the best". The past 2 years were very crucial as she was due for her promotion, There was a tough fight with 2 more people in the line, one of them more senior and influential than her and to make it she had to literally toil day and night. Weekends were spent in office and weekdays she came home at odd hours, she hardly spent time with her kids. Her husband knew about her passion and and as she had told him its just a matter of making it to the coveted post. Once she did that, things would cool down. She had promised them all a vacation in Paris. Ria and Rahul were over the moon, they promised Mumma they would cooperate and be good kids, not trouble Papa, do their homework on time and eat their meals as well. She did make it but things had not cooled down as expected infact work had become more intense, expectations were higher,They had finally taken the dream tour to Paris but post that she could still not manage to spend enough time with the kids and Kshitij, She always thought this is the last project, things will get better here on, but that never happened.
As she sipped her morning decaffeinated coffee and typed a mail to her junior team member, her phone rang,. It was Kshitij. His father had suffered a stroke and they had to leave for his native immediately. He had intimidated the school principal and the he was on his way to pick up the kids. The maid had been given instructions to pack a handful of clothes and other essentials. Anya was shell shocked for a minute, He was absolutely fine, how did this happen? She called her up her boss, explained the situation and hurriedly left for for home.
As they drove to Kshitij's parents house, he was silent all the way. Once they reached they were relieved to know that his father was out of danger. The kids were overjoyed to meet their grandparents , it had been years they had visited their father's native home. Kshitij and Anya had been so busy in their jobs they did not find time to take their children to visit his native. After things had cooled down Anya took out her blackberry, to her dismay there was no signal. This was a very remote place on the outskirts of the city which lay untouched by the hustle bustle of city life and internet, She had no option but to switch off from work. At first she was irritated and grew restless about what was happening at work , but slowly she realised there was little she could do till she got back so as well let things be. She looked around, there were lush green coconut trees, birds chirping, cows grazing and a light breeze blowing, She heard a melodious voice singing and was drawn to it. As she moved in the direction of the voice captivated by it, eager to meet the singer, she was surprised to see it was none other than her daughter Ria, "Ria you sing so well since when have you been singing that too so professionally, I have never heard you before" Ria smiled and said "Mumma its been 4 months I am training with Malini ma'am, I had told you about it and even had a recital at school for the annual day. I had even told you how the teacher heard me playing antakshari and said I have a good voice I must train and then Daddy took me to Malini maam's class. I always sing at home Mumma but by the time you are home I am in bed, so you never heard me". Anya was dumb struck, Her little daughter had been singing since so long and she had no clue. Was she so immersed in her work that she did not even know what her kids were up to? Her son came from behind and hugged her, it felt so familiar and yet so distant. It hit her and hit her hard it had been ages she had hugged her child. She remembered much before she got into this rat race, when she was still a junior member in the team and she shut shop by 6, she would come home and spend time with her kids, have dinner with them, tell them a bed time story which was a daily ritual and then cuddle them as they slept. Where has those days gone? What was she doing with her life? Was this the sole purpose of her existence? To add more titles at work and get a fat paycheck every year?
She remembered the past so many years when she toiled it out in school to get into a good college, and then sweated it out in college to get good marks and get placed in a good company and then she toiled again and again to get promoted to the next level at work. There was no end. When she felt she had achieved her goal, the next milestone appeared before her and the battle began again. No doubt she had made good money and had secured a bright future for her family, but at what price? At the cost of missing her children's growing years, at the cost of a strained relationship with her life partner, at the cost of these simple joys of life which would never ever come back. The kids would grow up one day and would no longer need their parents, what would she do even if she became the CEO of the company that day, would she enjoy her success by herself, raise a toast to herself all alone? How did it matter if she got promoted a year or two later, Maybe people would talk, some may think she was not that efficient but how much would that matter in the grand scheme of things? If she took a holistic view, in a career of 30 years she would hardly think back of that promotion that she made 2 years late, as against missing these wonderful moments of life which could not be re lived. She was really stupid not to have not have realised this earlier but she knew what she to do now. She held Kshitij's hand and whispered" lets go for a walk in the woods just like old days."He smiled back and held her hand tighter. He was happy he had got back his Anya today, the same Anya he fell in love with and married, who was lost for a while but she had found her way back to his heart.
Now let me confess- I am really NOT someone who loves watching
daily soaps. I know reading the tile you thought- what the heck, if it’s a
daily soap on TV it is bound to be stereotypical, full of nonsense and drama
and if you watch such stuff why complain, and if complain why watch? There was a
time when I was in college, all naive, and this was when internet was all about
going to the cyber cafe and getting all excited about entering the chat room
and typing asl (age ,sex ,location) and talking to strangers. At that time, the
only source of entertainment for young people like me was the idiot box so I won’t
lie- I used to watch the Ekta Kapoor soaps and probably even like that at that
point, that’s why I use the word Naive. As I grew up, met
diverse set of people, read and experienced new cultures, my thought process
changed. With a hectic job, I hardly found time for any TV watching. My Mom who
is also a working woman used to watch a few Marathi soaps. She always told me
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…