So where is the ‘happy ending’ Bollywood style I ask myself time and again?
I have been delirious with a mind numbing headache and a fever that refuses to go away. Being sick has it’s advantages of course, lying in bed all night wrapped in a blanket, shuddering from the unwarranted and uncalled for chills, on an exceedingly warm October night gave me the time and space to think and contemplate about the many complexities of life. I absolutely love the fact that everyone leaves you alone when you are sick! A terrible temperament and general frumpiness are discounted as bad, lingering side effects of your so called appalling suffering and you can almost get away with anything!
It seems sort of unfortunate that even though your limbs refuse to cooperate and your body rebels at the slightest movement, your mind is most active and alive than ever. Last night I desperately tried to put myself to sleep. At first I gently rocked myself back and forth as I sat hunched in bed propped against a couple of mismatched pillows. When this didn’t have the desired effect, I moved on to restlessly tossing back and forth in short, unstable jerky movements desperately trying to cling on to the smallest glimmer of sleep, only to come really close and then see it slip away, my eyelids drooping in exhaustion, but my mind alive and more awake than ever.
Once upon a time in a familiar looking suburb of big city there lived a girl named Sheila. Sheila was the perfect child next door types. Being extremely average has its benefits, thanks to this; Sheila for a good portion of her existence lived a very ordinary life. She always had a really difficult time waking up in the morning and getting to school on time. It’s not that Sheila didn’t enjoy the benefits of a rather mediocre education system, which she realized much later on doesn’t really prepare you for life at all. Quite the contrary, Sheila just didn’t find the morning hours very conducive towards her personal growth and learning. At the end of the day Sheila skipped home from school and then spent a good portion of the evening doing homework with great gusto and enthusiasm, a rather uncanny trait in a ten year old, but little Sheila liked to study and was indeed a rather odd child.
Summer was Sheila’s favorite season of the year. Apart from the obvious joys of not having school for three whole months and the sheer bliss and luxury of loitering and loafing around that the season offered, Sheila also loved summers because this was the only in the year that she got to see Ridhi.
Ridhi was a distance cousin, she spent the summers with the family that lived next door, who were coincidently were related to them both. Sheila and Ridhi were destined to be the best of friends, age and time being on their side helped speed up the process considerably. People smiled fondly as the watched the two girls skip together hand in hand on numerous occasions, apparently their mothers were good friends too and did exactly the same when they were their age.
Childhood, suddenly without so much as a slight warning gave way to those difficult teenage years. It brought along with it many joys and angst’s, but most importantly the painful realization and discovery of the opposite sex.
Sheila was younger than Ridhi by nearly a year and a half. To her Ridhi was almost a woman, all worldly and wise. They spent many a night, with their heads tucked under the same blanket, quietly and futilely fretting about the nature of men in low, almost inaudible whispers. They were always afraid of waking up the grownups with their scandalous talks. They were overjoyed to discover that each of them more or less wanted the same things in life. Ridhi was pretty and smart and all the boys seemed to like her, although a tad bit jealous Sheila enjoyed this and vicariously lived through her. When she finally got some attention of her own, Sheila emulated Ridhi’s ways to the tee to garner the same effect her friend seem to have on men.
Alas the long, starry, sultry nights filled with endless jibber couldn’t last forever. Today Sheila and Ridhi remains friends, they see each on rare occasion and thankfully sort of even share the same amicable feelings of warmth they once did for each other, sadly the similarity ends there. Riddhi now appears to be particularly tired and engrossed all the time. What seems like a never ending day is spent chasing after a hyper active but ridiculously adorable two year old and catering to her ever whim and fancy. Somewhere in the last five odd years or so, Riddhi had managed to snag herself a husband and produce a child. Sheila had been busy as well; only her days are filled with chasing after seemingly impossible, nonsensical, idealistic dreams, which had absolutely very little foundation in reality and unstable but interesting men she thought she was in love with, who ended up breaking her fragile and all too eager heart time and again. Riddhi basked in the glory of supposed marital bliss while Sheila reveled in her liberated, strong, independent woman of the 21st century existence. Both were seemingly content in their own right; yet felt that other lived a delusional, highly unfulfilled existence.
A couple of days ago, unexpectedly, Riddhi showed up at Sheila’s doorstep. After both got over the initial excitement and joy at each others sight, the conversation took a very sour turn. Riddhi pondered rather loudly on Sheila’s husbandless state and how incredibly unfortunate it seemed. The worldly and wise Ridhi lamented in great agony on how a life without the joys of marital bliss and snot nosed brats to run after was one badly lived. Sheila sat in utter silence as a feeling of loneliness and isolation slowly enveloped her, no words dared escape her lips.
“You are being selfish and horrible. Think about your mother, she isn’t getting any younger; doesn’t she deserve to see you happy?”
*eerie silence followed by a slightly throaty, awkward cough*
“You have some strange, funny ideas about space and relationships, what do you mean you aren’t quite ready to incorporate someone else into your life just yet? I haven’t heard anything more ridiculous!”
“What’s wrong with an arranged marriage? Not everyone is destined to meet each other and fall madly in love like Harsh and I did.”
“Yeah, thanks for rubbing salt on my nearly healed bruises.”
You must listen to your mother and meet some of these guys she is trying to introduce you to.”
“They sound like losers who can’t get a date on their own…” Sheila muttered softly.
“You think you are smart, mature, all knowing and wise but you are NOT! Have you heard yourself speak? You want the man to do all the work and make all the compromises, while you don’t give an inch."
“I don’t think that’s how I think or feel you are just misunder…” Sheila’s voice slowly trailed off as Riddhi once again loudly interjected.
“If I had an eligible, marriageable son, I would NEVER want him get marry a girl like you!!”
“Ouch.” Though Sheila.
“Change your ways before it’s too late! Otherwise there is a damn good chance that you might just end up all alone.”
“Fine, Fine!! I will meet some of these losers if you insist!” Sheila yelled, as she huffed out of the room, her composure badly shaken.
“Well NOT calling them losers would be a nice place to begin. Good.” Said Riddhi, with a triumphant humph, a big smile of victory plastered upon her lips.
The next night Sheila met Riddhi and the covered husband for dinner along with another married couple they were once very close too. The evening was fun and ordinary of sorts, the food although not exceptional was rather delectable. They all had a perfectly decently time, making small, individual contributions to the rather inane conversations that took place. Sheila remained silent through the bits where the discussed the triumphs and woes of matrimony due to her obvious lack of expertise on the subject. Now only if this was a discussion on disastrous relationships and terrible taste in men, would I have a thing or five to add, she thought herself in her usual self deprecating humorous manner. The evening ended on a good note with some scrumptious caramel custard that they each polished off with great gusto.
After the tab was paid and the husband packed off home to spend one more night in bed alone, Sheila and Riddhi silently walked homewards. Their private thoughts regularly interrupted by the sound of their sandals crunching against the abandoned gravel on the cemented side walk.
“Well, so tonight was fun!”
“Yes I had a great time. Thank you, wow we haven’t done this in a while.”
“Isn’t my husband lovely?” Riddi asked with a smile.
“Yes, he seems really nice.” Sheila offered.
“Didn’t you feel all lonely and alone tonight, having no one there to take care of you?”
“Not at all, I am quite use to looking after myself.”
Sheila strode ahead with a small yet determined and hopeful smile. She pressed a cigarette in between her parted lips and lit it with a sigh of content, all the while ignoring Riddhi’s look of disapproval and disdain, blissfully puffing away into the muggy October evening air.