Saturday, August 22, 2015

The journey - 2

Short Story - The journey 2
Sitting at that deserted bus stop, she had disturbing thoughts. What will she do in a world so wide and cruel with no money, no support and no friends? How will she even survive?

I did not want a child, not in the circumstance I was, at that point in time. I had an ambition, a thirst for money and fame, but Arya was just thrust on me. Eating that stale bread and drinking reheated tea, I looked back on my life and thought, “What is life anyway without a greater purpose; a meaningful identity?” The old woman that took me in that fateful afternoon died after a week and I was left with this infant girl child who I couldn’t just abandon.

It was hard work caring for her. She cried, drank milk, and slept. She pooped and peed and cried again for milk. It was endless. I don’t remember ever being so anxious in my entire life. I had to look after her and earn a livelihood in a tiny village where there was nothing much you could do with a management degree. I had to sell tea and pav and sometimes, I had nothing to eat. A month later, she smiled. She looked into my eyes and just smiled. The joy that washed over me cannot be described in mere words. It was my birthday and she was lying in my lap greedily sucking at the bottle when she suddenly pushed the bottle away and made gurgling sounds and smiled. She waved her arms, made more noise and smiled even more. Then she reached for the bottle. That was when I really, truly fell in love with her. That was when she was born in my heart. It was more toil. My baby girl grew faster and demanded more food and clothes and vaccines, and what not. Life was no longer easy. I often looked back on my old life of luxury and opulence and wondered, “Would I have been this happy if I had this child amidst all that glamor?” I think not. There were times I was exhausted, hungry, and thirsty; and she would demand more attention, immediate attention; but towards the end, I was happy.

Arya is now three years old. She is playing with the sand making castles. I am lonely and the sun is now just a red streak in the west. Dark clouds enveloped the sky and the wind was cold. I shivered and called out, “Arya, come on, let us go home”. “Haven’t we an umbrella mamma? I want to jump in the puddles”.

It was a beautiful but melancholy evening and I had just locked up charm for the day. I picked up Arya at school and as we drove home, she looked at me with her big eyes and said, “Mamma, do you want my Giraffe? I don’t like it when you are sad”. We don't realise often how sensitive and caring little five year olds can be.

Arya and I are snuggled in her bed with warm cups of milk. Her favorite cartoon “Tom and Jerry” is playing on TV. Some things are timeless. She says, “Mamma, I will go away to college next year. Won’t you be lonely without me?” Honestly, I had never even thought about it. As Arya grew older and responsible, I found time to do many things. I converted that teashop in a shack into a breakfast place on the beach. I volunteered at the nearby children's shelter and taught kids English and Math. As Charm grew in popularity and size, my profit margin increased and I donated books and teaching aids to the shelter. When Arya was much younger, she would come to me skipping and laughing every time she heard a mention of Charm at school. Her pride in my work gave me more happiness than my own success. When Arya was ten years old, a local merchant came to me to ask if I would franchise Charm out. It was a difficult decision but he persuaded me saying he would treat it like a family business. He loved the concept of breakfast on the beach and promised to keep it Eco-friendly just like original Charm. The first contract was painful. It felt like I was parting with a loved one but it gave me easy money which I spent educating more underprivileged children. I spent less time at my own outlet, the original Charm, thanks to my very efficient manager and more time teaching and working on projects for schools. But whatever I did during the day, I came back home to Arya. The idea that she would be away for four years and then embark on a career was distressing. What would I do without her! She is the one that gave me vision and a meaning to my ambition and now, I will be lonely without her but my work must continue because I want her to be proud of me from wherever life takes her.

This story is based on life like every story is, but it is not a true story. Yet, as I wrote the last paragraph, I felt such intense emotion I truly cannot describe. It was neither joy nor sorrow, but something so deep and intense, I couldn’t continue thinking and writing.