Saturday, April 4, 2009

Real love is letting a person be what he/she really is...

Naina had seen her parents as a couple...well she was an observant child..she saw her mother give up her career, health, and personal likings for her dad...Naina's dad always followed his heart, and her mother followed him. To some extent Naina was fine with it, but whenever she saw her mom hurt with someone that dad said or did, she resented him. But everytime her mother would say, "Its ok dear. I have to adapt myself as per him."

Naina grew up and got married to the guy of her parents' choice. She went in a joint family and from the first day she was forced to change herself....they started by changing her maiden name to Ritu. And then Naina's ordeal started. They expected her to wake up at times they got up, give up what they wanted her to give up, take up habits that they wanted her to take up, sit and stand as per their wishes, eat what they wanted her to eat, and worst of all meet her parents when they wanted her to meet. Naina was often taunted for her plain looks. Ten months after her wedding Naina was blessed with a daughter. Naina's mom-in-law made sure that little one was kept away from Naina. The little girl often cried for her mother, but Naina was not allowed to hold her child, till she completed her work. Naina felt claustrophobic but had no place to run. Her husband, Shekhar, understood her plight but was reluctant to take a stand for her.
Years went by and to their satisfaction Naina changed...her smile was gone, her beauty and youth gone, face lost all the shine and became dull, and she suffered from hypertension and depression. Yet her husband always expressed his love for her, even though the expression of love lasted not more than half an hour in night on weekly basis..

Then something happened that stirred Naina from her deep sleep. Well it so happened that one day Naina found a mid aged handsome man on her door. Naina came to know that he was Sagar, her husband's distant cousin. Naina's mom-in-law told her that he would stay with them for sometime as he had just returned from abroad and had yet not been alotted an official residence by his company. She curtly instructed Naina, "He is our guest. See to it that he is properly taken care of...and ask ur parents to not visit us for some days. Well he is a rich guy and might not find your parents presentable." Anger boiled inside Naina, but she couldnot say anything...knew it was futile. Her mom-in-law had done the damage she wanted to...and despite Naina's retorting back, her parents respect and dignity couldnot be restored.

That day when she was formally introduced to Sagar her mom-in-law said, "She is Ritu, our daughter in law...well earlier her name was Naina but we changed to Ritu."

When Naina served lunch Sagar called aloud, "Naina, come over. Join us all for lunch." Listening her own name after so many days made Naina jerk. And how could she join them for lunch...she always had lunch alone after serving food to everyone. She politely asked him to start and promised that she would join later, but he was adamant. Said he would wait. upon hearing this Shikha (shekhar's sister) reluctantly came over in kitchen and Naina hesitantly joined the whole family on the lunch table. That night when Naina lied down, she could hear the name Naina ringing in her ears. How much had she lost!! Even her own name and identity.

Sagar always called her Naina; he was perhaps the first person in the family who asked her about her passions. She told him about her love for music, and later that day Sagar shared his music CDs with her. He gave her his CD player to listen to, while she was working in the kitchen.

Music came as a blessing to Naina. She would listen to music while doing her household chores. Suddenly she found that she was relatively happier and seldom thought about negativities of her life. Her mother in law protested to her using Sagar’s CD player, but Sagar insisted that he had brought it for Naina only and that the CD player now belonged to Naina. He looked as good as an angel to her. Shekhar too observed that Naina was happy...but he mistook her happiness as her attraction towards Sagar and taunted her on the same. Naina could see the vaccum of their relationship...all these years she was in depression he husband trusted her and one day she decided to be happy he got insecure...guess he did not trust himself enough, she thought.

One day Shekhar came back home with a print out in his hand. It was his appraisal form, and he wanted to fill it out with Sagar's help. While working on the appraisal form, they were struggling to find right words. Naina was just passing by, and prompted them with a phrase that befitted their requirement. Sagar was surprised with her ability to find just the right words to express complex ideas. Next day, Sagar brought a laptop home and gave it to Naina. He told her that he had purchased a new laptop and she could have the older one. Naina could see it was a used laptop and was assured that he was telling the truth.

Then started Naina's relationship with computer. She would finish off her houshold chores quickly and get on with exploring the PC. Sagar gave her few topics to write on, and after three-four revisions the write up was as good as to be published. Naina's health started improving, as she experienced an influx of energy and positivism in herself. Encouraged by Sagar, Naina took up work from home opportunity for writers. Within few months, Naina had tie ups with numerous firms within the city. After so many years, Naina felt she was alive. Its not that her family had changed - they were the same- who resisted improvements in her, always ready to deflate her spirit and enthusiasm. But now Naina had changed. She had risen from her comatoseness.

Shekhar always felt that there was something more than friendship between Naina and Sagar. But now Naina didnot care. Her priorities had changed. She recognized that she had a responsibility not only towards her family, but herself too. To some extent, she herself was also responsible for losing herself. Now that she found herself, she will not let go. Sagar, to Naina, would always be a guiding angel...who will always hold the place of a mentor in her heart.