Journey (Short Story)

(Inspired by a true life...)

"You look exactly the same! What? Did you freeze time for yourself, while we were growing up?"

"Hahaha... I wish... these extra kilos tell a completely different story!"

They had finally managed to meet up; at least most of them but was nevertheless a start. Good friends in school, life had taken them of different paths, away and out of touch. Till finally, technology played its part and she was able to get them all re-connected. She knew very well it was never going to be easy getting them all together, but when opportunity stokes your door, you do not turn it away.

"We're finally meeting up... Can you believe it?"

"Thanks to you... and of course WhatsApp and Facebook!"

"Hey, don't steal my credit!"

She was smiling, glad that she had managed to get them to meet up. In a small restaurant in town, the happy lot sat, reminiscing old days and lost in nostalgia, the mischief, the jokes and the pranks. She realized she wasn't even the same person anymore. Very different from when all of them had first met; as kids and with dreams sky high; with a heart full of love, young and innocent.

"Wow... There's so much to catch up with everyone. It's been what 20 years??? I'm sure all of us have loads of stories and gossip"

Even at this juncture in life; when the world expected them to be mature, sophisticated, she was happy that they were all able to retain some of that child inside of them. Losing it all would have been a shame... the fun and laughter is what that defined them.

"You got married first, didn't you? And at a very young age..."

Brought back a flood of memories for her. A life so full of emotions, flashing past her eyes.

"I was 19... Not even out of my teens! Still in college"... she bellowed

"What the hell? How could you? Weren't you scared? Boy ... I was scared at my marriage and I married at 30!"

The laughter echoing across the restaurant. They had been doing a lot of that, much to the annoyance and the occasional cold stares of fellow guests. But they didn't seem to care one bit. They were just happy to be there.

"Scared? I was dying inside! You have no clue how much I fought my parents. I didn't want to marry a stranger and pack off to a distant land to live among people I have no clue about. I wanted to study, to work... I had dreams. Hell, I wanted to run away from home because they kept bring in proposals... one after the other"

"Damn... But why did you agree?"

"You had to be there to know! The daily melodrama at home, the continuous emotional blackmail. I had a major crush on someone in those days and that made my parent ls bickering even worse. Apparently, all the women in my family married early and I was expecting to carry on the tradition. I hated it... I kept rejecting boys and they kept bringing more and more"

"What about the guy you had a crush on?"

Crush was probably her way of not revealing her true feelings. That part of her life had been her own deep secret; not shared with anyone else; like her own treasure. She was, in fact, madly in love with him. Her first love... innocent and pure, something she never got over and probably didn't even want to... want to keep it somewhere deep inside her as a happy cherished memory that she could revisit whenever she was sad or low.

"My bad luck... His family relocated out of town and maybe the reason I actually agreed to finally get married and then there I was ... married to an engineer from Dubai and packed off with him"

"I hope he's treating you well..."

"Haa... he's still alive after so many years, isn't he?"

Their laughter roared through the room. They wanted to know more. They couldn't imagine themselves in her situation. Not everyone's cup of tea... this kind of a life.

"Oh, I hated him at first... taking me away from my home, my friends, my dreams ... far away to a distant land. If he hadn't sent a proposal, I'd probably still be home. Even though I knew it was inevitable, in my own silent way, I sort of blamed him for bringing misery into my life"

"Poor guy..."

"Yea right… He had a young bride, living at his own house and his own comfort zone. I was the one who had to spend nights alone… crying"

"He didn't find out?"

"I never showed him my real feelings… I didn’t know him at all. I did everything a wife should. I made food, took care of the house, listened to what he had to say. But somehow I was like there was no life inside, like a robot going about his chores. He did try to get through to me, but I was too broken at the start…"

"Wow… That had to be a difficult life. We can't even imagine what it must have been like. How did you cope?"

"Well, it did take me quite some time to settle and thankfully; contrary to what I thought, my husband, is actually a good man. He never pushed me, understood that it's difficult for me to adjust there. Respected my need for space, for time. In fact, he even encouraged me to finish my studies. You know as people we are very judgmental, we look at people and in the corner of our minds, we already have made an opinion about someone, without knowing them, understanding them, giving them a chance… He is very different to the perception I had in my head. I guess it was the anger and the youth."

"So you fell in love with him !! Isn't it?"

"Ha ha ha… no life isn't that simple. And being married at such a young age, you cannot adapt so fast. That wisdom comes with age, doesn't it? We can adjust or compromise much more quickly now than we could when we were young. I carried that grudge for a very long time. And even though he was kind and loved me, I some could not get myself to love him back. If maybe we had met in different circumstances, then possibly I would have given him that chance. But here, the initial emotional impact was so high, it was not easy for me to settle…"

"Interesting… you still don't love him?"

"That depends on what you think love is… the ones we see in the movies or what we have been told? I do love him in my own way and trust me… I couldn't have asked for a better husband. This is a relationship we have earned being together for so long. He never gave up on me and that was the most important part. I may not have loved him at the start but over the years… seeing him for who he was, how he treated and respected me… things change when you seriously think about it, don't they?"

"Wow… I didn't realize love at this level… like ever! But when did you really accept him?"

"Well, after spending months being sad, lonely, I was starting to think… how long can I live like this? How much more can I take?  Was it worth giving the relationship a chance? It was when I started thinking like this, that I slowly eased up to him. It wasn't easy you know, to change, to try… I still had doubt, insecurity, and fear… but then I could not live or rather slowly die like this… I had to try"

"I know it can be difficult. It was for me too after marriage to adjust at my husband's place. The change, the pushing out of comfort zone… Of course not as bad as yours, but I know how that feels… And you lived through it, far longer than any of us…"

"But it also changed me as a person… I finally started appreciating his gestures, the trips and finally started being a little happy, which I'll be honest… I never thought I would ever be… I started smiling again, maybe he could notice it too and that made him happy. We finally turned into a family…"

"Finally some romance!"

"Shut up!"

The laughter had lightened up the room. They had been relatively quiet for some time now…

"Then we had our first child. It's magical… you know, to hold your own flesh and blood in your hands. All those emotions rushing through… happiness, fear, confusion… you just can't explain it. The feeling of being a mother… Nothing else mattered after that. Any grudges, doubts or hate I had towards life moved out… like clouds moving after a rainy day and light shining in a clear sky… I guess being a mother brought in a maturity with it… I finally learned to be happy"

"Wow. The stories we all have huh? Everyone with different experiences… unique stories. Do you ever wonder how life would have been if things happened differently?"

"No thanks… I'm happy with my husband and kids, don’t need any more confusion in my life!"

The laughter got them back to joking again…

Even though she had shrugged off the question, she had always wondered about how life would have been if she was not married then? What if she had a relationship with the one she loved? Would it have worked out between? Would she, in the end, be as happy as she is now?

Her friends back into her life… a husband back home whom she loved and respected… and her kids, she would die for them. She would never forget her first love, but then he would always remain a happy memory. These questions, they did not matter to her anymore. 

It was her journey, her experiences that made her into who she was today… a friend… a wife… a mother...  and she loved the person she had become.

1 comment:

  1. It’s a reality for quite a few women... nicely written


Powered by Blogger.