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Paths not taken

paths not taken
With long and fast strides she was already on move as if she never wanted to look back. To look back and to go back was always there in her nature. But she was not in a retreating mood; indeed with a heavy mind but charged with an unusual zest. It would take almost fifteen minutes to reach the main road and she was the only walker with two big boxes balancing each other in her hold.

She has to reach the station before it was fully dark. She had put on her specs, so that she herself can manage with checking trains and its timings. The thought of being alone irked her in her much eventless life.

“Aunty, is it a long tour? When will you be back?”

She recognized the kid’s voice; she lives with her grandma next to her house.

“No dear, I won’t be back”. She fastened her strides giving the kid no chance to continue with her query.

A very important decision she had taken after two weeks’ pondering and reasoning. Never had she made any decisions of her own, always waited for others’ nods and consents. It was easy for others to live with her as no need to fight and fret to convince her of their needs .She was always a very calm poised person with a mind to adapt and adjust .Good for others, but damaged her whole individuality with no spark to spring ahead in the way she wanted.

She could hear the announcements from the station and her train coming on time, but she had lot of time in between. First she thought of preparing her dinner to carry with, but second thought prohibited, after all she was doing that all these days .The station was over crowded, some VIP being received with due hubbub. From childhood she had irritation for crowd and the noises. Though a little round about way, she took the old path to the 5th platform. She was all alone but had a companion; ‘the new found Confidence’. A pinch of self love and confidence would have made her life sprightlier, these thoughts always pricked her.

It was two weeks back; she got a courier with her name imprinted. After her husband and son had left her, she seldom got letters. But many times she had waited for the courier boy hoping someone may care to drop a note. The only solace she had was her computer with net connection, the boon her hubby had left for her. Time used to flow easily when she was immersed in surfing, making herself aware of the happenings around. In olden days chatting used to consume lot of time, but may be too much of it she lost the interest gradually. Never had she thought, it is so easy to part from loved ones, just got healed as days went by. So many years she and her hubby lived together, but few days were enough to create that unbridgeable chasm between them. Though he never told her, she very well knew that he was trying for some jobs in Mumbai. One day it is with great joy that he informed her of the hi-fi job he got at Mumbai and within short notice he has to join. Not even sparing a chance for her to speak out, he was busy with planning. Never had she thought that she will be out of the scene since he came with two tickets to Mumbai, for him and their son. Our son was waiting for his 12th result, so easy to continue his higher studies in that metro city than in this less known part of the world. ‘But why not me” it was with tearful voice she asked but well in advance stopped with his most unreasonable reasoning. Till that date he needed her care and assistance but then might have felt capable of managing alone and her presence would be of much use here in this house, as they cannot leave it locked. A complete shifting was out of question for him, she was convinced and consoled as ever before, but still she wonders why people care more for these houses of bricks than for the humans with heart.

It was two years before this rift occurred in her life, though they were in touch daily over phone she felt isolated and ignored. So easily he flew away with her son, never even sparing a thought how frustrated she would be. All those years they were together but those years of separation made it all sapless and meaningless. Within no time she constrained her life in that small room with books and the computer and not even slept in that bed where they had shared and dreamt of their life. Life never had been easy for her as this was the toughest phase of the saddest surprise. Almost one month she took to get accustomed to live alone. Once the household works were over she used to go to near by school to spend time with the blooming kids. Their presence compensated the absences in her life. Her son used to call her every morning from his hostel to wish her a nice day and thus to express the depth of his love for her. But some sort of grudge was being nurtured in her inner most heart, that she was left alone.

In between these happenings she developed an urge to swim against the tide, to prove the hidden element in her. With a master’s degree in back up and her flair for 6 languages, she decided to find a job to be financially independent. Age was of course a barrier still she strived. On one fine morning she got that much awaited courier, carrying her appointment order as customer care officer in a well known software firm in Mumbai itself. It is with great joy her parents received this news as they thought she is going to join her hubby at last in this route. But first time in her life she had kept an important news untold to her hubby. She made all arrangements to lock her house and to stride in her new path. It was with great difficulty she managed to keep all these unfolded to anyone except her parents.

The sky was dark all set for a rain. She reached the platform and could manage to get her luggage into the compartment and settled at her seat. Looking through the window she could see the path leading to her house, tears came uncalled and a shiver numbed her whole body. Never ever she had imagined herself in such a plight. But felt some kind of joyful pride at her belated awakening. She checked the tickets and the purse and looked around to see her co passengers. She was hooked by the smile of a small child sitting beside. In no time his son’s thoughts flashed through her mind, is he also abandoning her?

One day and night train journey was made pleasant with the presence of that child entertaining everybody with his mischievousness. She waved to the kid, and got down at Kalyan station, wished if only someone was there to receive her. It was her favourite habit to go to station to receive and see off the guest who used to come to their home. The floating crowd in the station did not stop to welcome this new comer. She had heard of the busy bustling life of Mumbai and had the fear of her capability to become a part of it. She saw a man standing away from the crowd with a board in his hand with her name written on it. She was surprised at first but later thought her office management would have arranged a cab for her. Once she introduced herself to that person he led her to the car and was on the way to her quarters.

It was a fully furnished two bed room flat with a huge window facing the mountains. She wondered whether she was at Mumbai as it was very calm with no sounds of horns or moving vehicles. It took almost one hour from station to reach this place. She didn’t talk anything to the driver as he seemed to understand only Marathy. He helped her with her luggage and left, not even waiting for tips. She took a quick bath and wore the lucky green saree and made a call to her father to inform of her safe arrival and to get his blessings. It was refreshing to have hot Idly with sambar from a near by south Indian hotel. She contacted her office and they advised her to wait at the near by school gate. In few minutes the office cab reached and once she showed them the appointment letter she was shown to her seat. With thousands of thoughts dancing through her mind she sat there with eyes set nowhere. She could feel some rare kind of fear and excitement developing inside her; her first day in a new office with strangers all around.  For past few days she was equipping herself with confidence and courage to attire in this new role. The cab stopped with a jerk and she got down with a shaking body and a saggy mind. “Wish he were with me’ she sighed in silence.

It was a compact office with 20 to 25 staffs well seated in a hall and she was shown to MD’s cabin. For sometime he gave her instructions about the job she has to do and then some casual talks about her family and her expected life at Mumbai. “By the by mam, I wish to introduce a friend of mine to you, he says he knows you, shall l?” Unknowingly she opened her mouth in surprise and even scratched her head “Know me? Okay sir let me see”. A middle aged man and a well built tall boy entered into the room, Just she couldn’t believe her eyes, throat became dry and eyes blurred. She stood up slowly holding the chair for support. She tried in vain to contain the tears and was so emotionally stunned that she could not utter even a word.

As if in dream she ran towards the boy; hugged him and kissed him and then stood before that man drooped in dizzy dilemma, “To hug him tight with all my love or beat him with all those years’ anguish?” As ever before he roared with a laugh and thus breaking the silence. He held her very close to him and led her to a near by chair. What ever he narrated afterwards was falling like honey into her ears. How he strived hard with his partner to start a company of their own, how he restrained himself from conveying all these to her, how he managed to send the appointment mail to her and how he conducted an online interview for her, how he bought that flat and furnished just for them to make her home there onwards, wow! He was describing non stop. ”As long as you are with dad, you will never shoot out and do what you are capable of. That is why we two staged such a drama; it was bit cruel towards a nice loving person like you. But see Mum, now you have become so daring and self confident enough to take such great decisions alone” Her son was patting and hugging her form behind.

“This is your seat mam”, her hubby’s friend added, showing the MD’s seat. She covered her face as tears were still flowing down. “Was this all happening to me?” She laughed through tears, the relishing moments of joy, sorrow, surprise, excitement and what not. See the magic of love, she was a bundle of complaints and grudges against these two men; but now just a glance of them was enough to make her forget everything and once again she slipped into the same old track, but never to leave the new one, that she chose so late in her life.


4 Comments to Paths not taken

  1. Ramakrishnan

    hi Shanti,

    It was long time. Last I had talked to you when you were searching for a job in an Engg. college. Later no information. I read your above article/story, and all that u have said came to my mind. Hope you are fine now and all troubles are over.

    By the way, Iam Ramakrishnan, from Trichur/Delhi but now settled in Bangalore.
    You writes nice things. Hope your sons are doing well. and ofcourse , Mr.Krishnan. How is his share business now.

    GOD Bless you.

    Keep in touch.
    RK

  2. An amazing path to be chosen ,though little far fetched.I wish the husband and sons in reality would do this and give the protagonist a new lease of life ;a life with recognition and respect if not the plentiful feeling.
    GG,
    Mumbai

  3. santosh

    hi shanti chitti… somewhere, about the time when she leaves her home, i could sniff the climax… and was pleasantly surprised to know that it was indeed something similar.

    i liked the story very much…

  4. mopasang

    Pretty Nice. You bring another part of the world to us.

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