In order to carry a positive action we must develop a positive vision
Shattered. That is how Swadheeta felt after hearing of her appa's plans for her. She was lost to the world, lost in her own conflicts. She continued to respond to any question that was thrown her way, but everyone in the room could tell that she was not present with them. Adarsh attributed it to the sudden news of her engagement. He was a little surprised at his own reaction to the news. He was fond of Swadheenta and liked spending time with her. But he did not think he was in love with her just yet. The news therefore had not shocked him much. He was disappointed, he was upset, but was he heartbroken? He didn't think so. If she decided that she wanted to marry Jeevan, he was ok with it. Atleast that he how he felt at the moment. He felt a slight tug at his heart, but did not feel his heart break.
In the pretext of work, Adarsh took leave from everyone there. Swadheenta also had to get to work and hence put the thoughts about appa for another time. She had the case to work on at the moment, and certainly needed to be in a better frame of mind to do anything about it.
At the end of a hectic day packed with work, a joyful dinner and a walk with Asad, Swadheenta now sat by herself overlooking the streets of Delhi from the terrace of her maamu's house. She had a cup of hot green tea for company, and a book that lay on the table, untouched. She saw a bunch of street kids listening to something on the radio and dancing away. She was drawn back to a memory from her childhood
Appa, I need 100 Rs. Entry fees appa. I am participating in a dance competition with my friends
Netiki baratanatyam class ku yeh varale? (Why didn't you come to the baratanatyam class yesterday?)
Appa, I was practicing contemporary dance with my classmates. School fest nadandindiruku appa (School fest is happening)
Yenna adu? Contemporary ah? That is not even a dance form. There is no need for you to do that. Participate only if it is baratanatyam. Ille anna poogaade (Dont go if it is not baratanatyam)
Appa, aana (Appa, but)
Swadheenta, I told you already. NO. Who has taught you to argue with your father? Po...
End of Flashback
For as long as she could remember, her childhood had been the same. Her appa was an extremely short-tempered and proud man. Although she would not accept it in front of anyone, she knew he was egoistic man. She had lacked a sense of bonding with him, having always grown up being scared of him. In front of him, she didn't have a say. She had hoped and prayed that she would get to go outside of home for her graduation. Convincing him of her love for law, and conviction to follow it through had been hard. She had tried telling him in so many ways that she did not want to run his baratanatyam institute, and that she wanted another career. Having belonged to a family where women seldom worked, he had been very un-encouraging of her plans for herself. He was very displeased with her when he learnt that she had applied to "National Law School" for admissions without his consent. He had locked her up in a room and denied her food for 24 hours, not to mention the slaps that she had had to endure. Finally, with much convincing from her mother and grand-mother, he had relented and let her go to law school, but with the condition that she will come home every week-end, come what may, and that she will not make any boy-friends etc. She had abided by all his rules in return for his permission. It was natural in her personal surroundings for men to have the final say in anything, and she had accepted it as her fate too. She hence resolved to create a career for herself where she can have her say, for it would never be possible for her in her personal life.
It was when she was in school that she attended a guest lecture by Mrs. Suhasini Sinha. Although she was aware of many women out there who had made it very big for themselves career-wise, she had never met one personally. Listening to Suhasini about women being equals in the society and how we should have a say in matters of importance had struck a chord. During her visit to Delhi with her parents a summer 2 years ago, when maamu had casually suggested that after her graduation, along with Chennai, she could apply for jobs in Delhi as well, for her maamu's house was also her own, she had seen a true ray of hope. Knowing that her father would refuse, she had struck a deal with him. She would only accept a role in Delhi if she got hired by Suhasini's firm. Else, she would work in Chennai. That had been her motivation. She did everything she could to get hired by Suhasini, because she wanted to stay away from home. It hadn't been easy. And it came with a cost. When she got selected and chose to move, her appa had asked for a promise. Since he was letting her choose her own career and where she chose to work, the choice of her groom would be his to make. Knowing her family and her own priorities, she had agreed. She knew her career was all she had to fall back upon, and decided to make the most of it.
Delhi had been a new world to her. In only 3 months since her arrival here, her whole perception of world had changed. Yes, life in a hostel during her college days had opened her up to many new things, but this sense of freedom, not having to confine to rules in your own home, staying out till late at night, this was all very new to her. And she was loving it. She hadn't known that there could be a husband like maamu was to maami, helpful, loving, caring. She was almost jealous of his relationship with Asad, and felt terrible about it. She wished her appa were like maamu. And then, out of the blue, she had met him, Adarsh. She still wasn't sure what she felt for him. She certainly enjoyed being around him, enjoyed his company, respected his POV. But was that love? She was scared to walk down that path, for it was forbidden. She felt helpless, for she wasn't one to break a promise, let alone one that she made to appa. She respected him too much to hurt him. But she couldn;t help the feeling of void she felt when she thought of a life back in Chennai, with Jeevan, a guy that she did not appreciate much. Much like her appa, he was dominating, opinionated and conservative. She knew that she was bound to live a life of regrets if she married him, but what choice did she have?
She suddenly thought back to the time when Suhasini maam thought that she could belong to their family, belong with Adarsh. She smiled a sad smile at that thought, maybe in a parallel universe.
Sighing to herself, she tuned to head back to her room. It was only then that she noticed her maamu standing there, studying her.
Maamu aap? Aap kab aaye?
Mein toh yaha bahut der se khada hu beta. Tu kiss soch mein khoyi hui thi?
Kuch nahi maamu, bas, aise hi...
Jeevan se shaadi nahi karni?
Not having expected this question, she took her time to formulate her response Maine appa se waada kiya tha maamu ki mein unhe mere liye ladka choose karne doongi. It was a trade off. Agar mein woh waada nahi karti, woh mujhe yaha aane nahi dete. Mujhe iss baat se koi surprise nahi hua hai ki unhone mere liye ladka chuna hai. Aapko pata hai, jis din Suhasini maam ka guest lecture maine college mein suna tha, usi din maine teh kar liya tha ki mein unhi ke saath kaam karoongi. Nisha, meri classmate jo Haryana se thi, uske saath bait ke din raat maine hindi bolna seekha. Simple because mujhe yaha pe law practice karni thi. I am so glad and thankful ki mein sab experience kar paayi. Mein woh kar paayi jo mein chahti thi. Bas, yeh nahi socha tha ki meri aazadi sirf 3 mahine ki thi.
Tumhe pata hai, tumhara naam maine rakha tha? Of-course tumhe pata hai. Lekin thume iska sahi wajah nahi pata. You have been told all your life that I gave this name to you because you were born on the 15th of August. Sirf yeh wajah nahi hai beta. Thumari mom ka due date 5th August ka diya tha doctors ne. Jab tum paida nahi hu uss din, hame laga ki hospital mein admit karke pain induce karange. Jis din yeh karne ka plan tha, uss din ek bahut bada strike ho gaya tha doctors ka. Hum sab bahut ghabra gaye the kyonki hospital mein ek bhi doctor nahi tha. Of-coure tumhari mom ko pains bhi nahi aaye the... lein ghabrani waali baat toh thi, haina? Phir jo waha pe duty doctor the, unhone bataya ki sab teek hai, aur jab tak ya toh woh strike khatam nahi hota, ya amma ko pains nahi aa jaate, hum ghar jaa sakte hai kyonki jo thode bahut doctors bache hai, unke paas aur bhi zyada important cases hai treat karne ke liye. Hesitantly hi sahi, hum log wapas ghar aa gaye. Phir wait hi karte reh gaye. Woh doctors strike 14th August ko khatam hua, aur tum 15th ko paide hui thi.. natural delivery mein. Tumhara naam maine Swadheenta isi liye rakha tha, kyon ki apni azaadi ka din tumne khud chuna tha beta. You made that choice for yourself. Phir tumhe kisi bandish mein kaun baand sakta hai?
Tum meri baat suno. Jaanta hu mein ki tum Ramakrishnan bhai saab ki bahut respect karti ho. Jaanta hu ki unko diya hua waada kabhi nahi todna chahoogi. Tumhare appa ko lagta hai ki tumhari zindagi ka har decision unhone liya hai. Lekin tum khud dhe lo. You have made all the important choices for yourself. Padayi, tumne waha ki jaha tumhe karha tha. Kaam waha kar rahi ho jaha tum chahti ho. Iska matlab yeh hai, ki apne appa ko samjhana tume aata hai. Born lawyer jo ho. Smiling to ease the situation, he continued - Na chahte hue bhi agar tum Jeevan se shaadi kar logi, toh uska blame appa pe mat daalo. Agar tum nahi karna chahti, toh tum iss shaadi se nikal sakti ho. Bas, yeh jaanlo ki tumhe kya chahiye, aur tum kay karogi.
Swadheenta reflected on his words. Yes, she had always managed to have her way with her dad on matters that were important to her. Maybe, even if it was unknowingly, she had learnt the art of dealing with her father. For the first time since morning she couldn't help but smile. Amidst tears of happiness, she ran to hug her maamu, a true father figure for her.
She could see light at the end of the tunnel and felt positive!