August 25, 2012

The New Woman and a Single Dad

Posted by eN at 11:14 PM
Trees whizzed by, the village scene soon turned into vast swamps with the back-ground of barely visible hillocks.

Mira looked out of the window, unseeing.

Her mind was pre-occupied.

She was unaware that the elderly lady, sitting in front of her, was looking for some conversation. It has been an hour since the train started and Mira hasn’t noticed anything about the compartment after finding her seat number and plopping into it.

She finally did it. Filed for divorce. She was supposed to feel lighter, only she didn’t. The thing that was unclenched inside her for some days now is still the same, if anything, it only wound tighter.

***

He took the Coke can out of the fridge and took a few swigs. He didn’t want it to be alcohol that did the reboot.

Then he took the stairs to check on his sleeping son. The photo-frames on the wall now seemed like haunting ghosts he wanted to avoid. He ditched his customary habit of looking at them. Why did people have photos in which they are only smiling? Are they spreading good cheer? Did everyone want to be continuously reminded that he has to try and be happy at all times in his life?

How I wish there was a bawling picture of Mira in one of those frames, he thought acidly.

Great, now the whole thing is making him delusional, Anand thought. Seriously, who would want to have crying pictures framed and displayed? He must be close to losing it, he thought sadly.

From the small slit under the door, he could see that the light which had been on till a moment ago is now switched off. He waited a moment outside the door and knocked it as he entered.

Varun was tucked in his bed, but was awake. He looked at his Dad as he came in, switched on the bed-light and sat up.

“So kiddo, what do you want me to read today?” he asked as he put an arm around his son and absent-mindedly ruffled his hair.

“Nothing Pappa, I just want to...”he trailed off.

Anand understood what he meant. Though he was unsure how much of the divorce process Varun really understood. At 6, he was too young to grasp such things. Things that baffled Anand too, funnily.

Anand pulled Varun closer to his chest and held him.

“Not even Harry Potter?” he suggested slowly.

“Nope,” came the little voice.

Before separation, Mira and Anand tried to talk to Varun, about their divorce and how it would affect him, in the usual language they reserve for their 6-year old.

Varun took in everything calmly.

Some of Varun’s friends were kids with divorced parents, but how much personal connect he is feeling towards the whole situation was beyond them. They felt responsible and guilty for having to put him through this at such an age, but it was inevitable. At this point, both thought the marriage was irreparable.

Mira, who usually camouflaged her feelings pretty well when she was with Anand, couldn’t stop her guilt from spilling into these pre-divorce talks with Varun. Knowing that she was throwing three lives into very different patterns, she often became emotional and hugged Varun fiercely.

Much more so, ever since Varun told Mira his wish - to stay with Anand.

She was not expecting that at all. She could fight in courts and mothers usually win the custody battles but that would hurt Varun, he would end up resenting her and she didn’t want that.

It meant she only has weekends to spend time with her darling son. She was devastated.

Anand hadn’t seen it coming either, and was speechless when he learnt that he is now going to be a single father. He thought that three of them had made a great team.

Until...

***

It was hard to put a finger when this exactly started.

Life was good with Anand. He was working hard for a career promotion and she was the dependable anchor, putting everything in place at home, taking care of Varun and other things. No complaints, no disappointments.

But no absolute content either.

Surely, there is nothing wrong with having guy-friends, Mira reasoned. Especially, if they are your childhood-friends, who are almost always utmost loyal and wonderful people.

It all started six months back..

Mira let her thoughts wander to their rendezvous after twelve years. She smiled slowly with her lips closed.

She last saw Nirav in high –school. He was 14 and she was 12 and he was the handsome senior every girl openly pined for.

Now, she was happily married and was a stay-at-home Mom with a kid.

Nirav had seen her getting into a car after grocery shopping at Godrej’s and followed her at an impulse. If his guess was right, she is the same Mira, who was the science club president in school. Nerdy and outgoing, she was too bright for most of the unabashed teens who tried for her. She side-stepped them expertly and basically breezed through middle-school without ever making it to the gossip club.

Which is to say that she stayed single.

Mira with her serious demeanour did stand out like a sore thumb in the bunch of bubbly teens. He had always admired her for that but there was nothing romantic about it. They made a great science team and were good friends too. There was a time some light years ago, when Nirav felt a flutter for Mira while listening to Freddie Mercury’s voice. But in the free-for-all-emotions phase that was teenage, he didn’t take it seriously.

Now, twelve years later, after a successful and a rather long stint at a research lab in Germany, Nirav was thrilled that he was going to meet someone from his childhood.

He followed her home and cautiously approached her. Mira had already parked her car and was busy taking out groceries from it.

It was her alright, Nirav thought! And how she had changed!

Mira was genuinely happy too when she saw Nirav.

One coffee led to another and pretty soon he was a regular fixture at their house. Anand was happy that Mira had someone to swap her science stories with.

Over coffee and conversation, Nirav started dropping subtle hints of an opportunity that Mira might be interested in at his organization. Mira, through apprehensive in the beginning about working after a long gap, gave it a try and was suitably hooked. She wondered how she could have missed this exhilarating thing all along and slowly lost track of the life she had before she joined work.

Nirav was a great team-mate, he had been nothing but wonderful ever since she joined work. He was a great support. Together, they rekindled the past glory of their School’s science team. Life seemed like a series of successful events and she was having a ball.

In the exhilaration of everything surrounding her new job, Mira spent less and less time with her own family. Varun’s football practice and some rare-and-few vacations with Anand took backseat.

She was going to make up for it, she told herself every time but that never happened. The backseat things slowly avalanched into a million things she could no longer make up for.

****

Anand had a hard time comprehending the whole situation. He always tried to gauge it as an outsider-looking-in but would soon give it up, as he felt hugely inadequate for not giving Mira what she wanted.
What did Nirav give that he couldn’t? Where did it go so wrong?

He thought he had it all...a dependable job, a loving wife and a great kid. But it had all come tumbling apart.

Why did he fail at the only long, successful relationship?

What is wrong with him?

Sure, he wasn’t giving enough time before Mira started working, but what did she do after she got into the job?

That’s when the epiphany slowly seeped in.

Nobody is perfect and nothing lasts forever.

Being in a successful relationship doesn’t always mean that it is for keeps, even if the relationship is something as seemingly permanent as marriage.

People change, relationships break, marriages fail.

He felt his hard heart begin to soften just a little.

Mira hadn’t been home in months. True - what she left behind wasn’t a home. But it had slowly become a prison of his making. No one could rescue him from that place. He had to rescue himself.

***************************************************************

My name is Nandana. I'm 25 and a techie by profession.When I'm not finding bugs in code, I watch movies, sketch Manga characters for my yet-to-be-started comic strip and fill various word documents creating characters for my yet-to-be-started(duh!) novel. I love reading and travelling. Bit of a photography enthusiast. For now, that's all you need to know :) 
And oh btw, criticism invited for the above piece

10 comments:

aks on August 26, 2012 at 11:10 PM said...

This is wonderful! Very well written Nandana, you did well by sidestepping the emotional whirlpool this could have led to. Awesome...is there a second part ?

Nandana on August 27, 2012 at 2:57 PM said...

@aks Thank you so much for the feedback. Yes, there is! Working on it :)

Dipthi Somesh on August 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM said...

this one s really good., i liked it very much.. i waiting for the second part..

Pavithra on August 28, 2012 at 12:25 AM said...

good one :)

Nandana on August 28, 2012 at 7:44 PM said...

Thank you Dipti and Pavithra :)

Keirthana on August 30, 2012 at 7:42 PM said...

Loved it totally.. Waiting for the 2nd part very much :)

Keirthana

Ashwini C N on September 2, 2012 at 9:33 PM said...

Wonderful Writing. this is the first post i'm reading and I'm completely in love with your writing style. The narration just flows like water.

Things always change. Relationships don't stay the same way and people also change. The hard part is if people forget their near ones because of their career growth. That can be painful, as the one here.

Very nicely written :-)

Smita on September 3, 2012 at 10:41 AM said...

this piece is too lovely to criticize it as the best :-(

Nandana on September 7, 2012 at 7:53 AM said...

Keirthana: Thank you :)

Ashwini: Thanks for the generous comment :)I'm glad you like it.

Sunita : Oh, I would want you to. Thanks for reading though!

NBose on September 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM said...

Such a smooth narration...the emotions of the characters are so well-captured....waiting for the 2nd part :-)

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