“I am not going back, that’s it!! I have had enough ! I can’t tolerate being controlled . He knew it from the beginning but he does not understand me anymore. It is over, it’s all over ! I will file the case tomorrow itself.” Nisha said this while entering the house and banged her bag on the floor. She sat on the sofa with a thud while ordering a glass of cold water. Mili, the house help ran quickly to the kitchen to obey the orders. Nisha angrily removed her magenta colored dupatta, that she had gracefully paired with her sparkling white Chikankari anarkali and threw it to one of the corners of the living room.
Charulata came and sat near her daughter after switching the AC on.
“What happened ? Can you please let me know the details , Nisha?” ,Charulata said.
“I can not!! I just said, what I had to say! It’s over , Mumma! And no , you will not brainwash me this time again! I will not be a fool and please do not cry as that is your only weapon when everything else fails!”, Nisha declared.
“Okay, I won’t. Come, let’s have lunch! Call it a coincidence, but I have cooked your favourite dish.” Charulata said and winked at her daughter.
“Chitau Pitha !!!!” Nisha jumped from her place like a little kid and ran towards her mother and hugged her while placing a kiss on her hands.
Charulata smiled and hugged Nisha back and kept her child within her embrace a little longer to calm her down . Mothers know it all ! She already knew Nisha was in tears and took out her saree pallu to wipe the moist eyes of Nisha! Nisha, could not hold back and cried unconsolably in her mother’s arms.
“I love him Mumma , I love him very much that I can not imagine myself away from him. But it’s so difficult to stay together as well! I can not explain …. Ahhh !! I.. I …. do not know….”, Nisha was saying this while her voice started to quaver.
“Shhhh…. Its okay my child , Shhhhh. We will talk later”, Charulata consoled.
Nisha followed Charulata into the Kitchen. She jumped on the kitchen slab , sat with her legs crossed while wiping her tears and signaled her mom to pass the ‘Chitau Pithas’ in her favourite plate! Yes, Nisha had her favorite utensils and whenever she visited her mom’s place, she made sure to eat in those set of plates no matter what! She relished the sumptuous ‘Chitau Pithas’ with honey on top of it just like the pan cakes dipped in maple syrup , but it only tasted better !That night, Nisha slept next to her mom, snuggling cozily, keeping aside all her worries .
Next morning was a different affair when Nisha woke up to a pleasant morning. Mili had prepared her coffee with an extra spoon of sugar , just as she liked whenever she had a breakdown like the last night. Nisha freshened up and ran upstairs where her mumma was watering all the plants that she had planted herself. The bright pink Roses and the bright yellow Dahlias danced elegantly welcoming the beautiful and chilly winter mornings .
“Wow mumma, the terrace garden looks so beautiful ! When did you add so many varieties ? I never knew !”, Nisha said while capturing the pictures with her smartphone .
“Over time, one by one, with patience and by taking care of each twig that seemed to be wilted, spraying disinfectant where I found a tiny little trace of damage by external factors ;with patience, attention and effort,” Charulata answered while tending to the plants with all her focus.
Nisha took her cup of coffee and sat on the swing that was installed on the terrace. She basked herself in the morning sunshine and looked towards the horizon. The azure colored sky looked pure with few traces of white clouds floating across in patches. It looked blissful and Nisha felt calm. She looked at her cell phone. Neither did it blink nor did it vibrate. Nisha looked away with a sigh!
“Mumma , you never open up to me! Why? Why did you not revolt when papa… How could you even allow whatever has happened over the years? What made you stay back with a man who cheated on you? Why, Maa ? Why?”, Nisha blurted out in one breath.
“He did not cheat on me ! Stop saying that! He loved me and your chotti mumma much like me. May be more but he never cheated !”, Charulata replied back.
“You are too naïve!! That man just enjoyed all his life and made you do all the work! This household , this identity that you have created with your character and strength is all because of you Mumma! What did Papa do ? I don’t think he ever loved or understood me too , like ever !! They all say fathers and daughters share a special bond . Well that was never the case in this household! We were always at loggerheads. Why could he never understand me like you do? It’s all because you gave me birth , Mumma , nourished me in your womb for nine long months and baby fed me! It’s just that which makes the difference, Mumma!”, Nisha declared.
“Nisha, will you stop blabbering, now? Don’t use your frustration towards Dipesh to curse Papa! You know you are hurting me too while doing all this. Papa left me alone since last three years and you too married off last year. All I have is my loneliness and few memories that give me the inspiration to survive every single day. It’s not easy but I choose the happy thoughts tirelessly every single day so that I live with courage, for myself , for you, for your Papa !” Charulata replied in a stern voice.
“I am sorry, mumma. But ,you got to tell me the truth today. I am no more a child , you see!”, Nisha insisted like a child with eyes full of questions that demanded answers.
Mili, the house help arranged chairs adjacent to the swing and Charulata sat on the arm chair that her late husband always adored. The olive green cotton Sambalpuri Pata Saree that she wore made her look elegant even though she was tired from completing all the morning chores . She drank a glass of water that Mili handed over to her . She then asked Mili to leave and prepare Upma for breakfast. She slowly closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the chair.
Charulata started saying , “I was married to your father at a very young age . It was an arrange marriage but I fell in love with him, with all of him and so did he. We enjoyed our blissful phase and I conceived my first pregnancy soon. I was on cloud nine and we were busy in our own little world. As the saying goes, when everything goes right, then expect a change ! That just happened and your father had to get transferred to a different city while I was three months pregnant. I had to stay back as the earning at that point in time, was not enough for us to leave our native and settle in a new place starting life from scratch. I and your father had to lead separate lives for the very first time. I handled my first pregnancy without him. Though my in laws were there, yet I missed him at every step. His care, his touch , his support and his voice… I longed for every little thing ! We used to write love letters to each other just like teenage lovers!” Charulata smiled and blushed while saying, “When you find your true love, you can be just yourself and I was me , just me with your Papa! I took up a teaching job at a nearby primary school to keep myself engaged and may be to miss your father a little less. But then suddenly everything changed when I lost my first born to brain malaria! It was as if the disease claimed two lives including one mine!” Charulata, struggled while saying this and her heart chocked !
“But Mumma, that was not your fault. You did everything that you could ! “,Nisha said .
“That was not the case back then! We belonged to a typical household with not so modern thoughts. The gaze of every soul around me changed. I was blamed for my own child’s death! Reason, I was working! I wrote to your father. I wrote to him describing every single thing and he had visited me as well. He took a leave for almost two months and took care of me with all his heart ignoring all the hatred , all the gossip , all the judgements. I had turned into a stone . I could not cry . I still went to the school regularly and taught while he waited for me at home! Then one fine day, while I was standing in front of the mirror getting ready for the school, I cried and I cried as much as I could . He took me in his arms, kissed me on my forehead and just let me cry! I don’t know if I healed but I started to live again , probably!!” , Charulata narrated her memories clearly to her daughter.
“I have heard about Bhai in bits and pieces! Maa, tell me about choti mumma, na? Why and how?”, Nisha interrupted the flow with her questions.
Charulata took a long pause before narrating again and had another glass of water,” Your father had to go back to his place of work and again we both were separated! With time, I had also learnt to be away from him, though only physically ! He was always in my thoughts, always! Your papa and choti mumma met as their fates were entangled in some previous birth , I guess. Your father was posted out of the state and that night was a night of calamity when an otherwise soundless neighborhood suddenly saw bloodshed due to Hindu -Muslim riots that were common in those days! Choti mumma was muslim and lost all her family members in front of her eyes. She somehow escaped the tormentors who wanted to rape her and unknowingly entered your Papa’s place through the open window, that dreadful night. She and Papa , both petrified and clueless spent the night together sitting under the bed, hiding their existence. In the morning, when the news spread like wild fire, the maddening crowd wanted to kill choti mumma at that very instant. Had it not been your Papa, who instantly decided to protect her by promising to marry her, an innocent would have lost her life ! Choti mumma pleaded mercy from the crowd to spare her life. She promised that she would pray to their Ram now and not to her Rahim anymore ! They both got married according to Hindu rituals. Your father wrote me every single thing ! The lover in me resented, felt despised but the partner in me sympathized with him, understood him . Exactly the way , he had understood me when I failed to save my first born! Your papa and choti mumma stayed away for few years. Your papa used to write to me regularly, though I had stopped communicating . People in our locality said whatever they wanted. But I could not stop loving him, for reasons beyond my comprehension! Almost after two years with your papa ,choti mumma gave birth to a still born. She could not survive the blood loss and succumbed to the delivery complications.” Charulata wiped a few tears that had unknowingly escaped from their deep seated place.
She continued, “I and Papa came together again because, we were always meant to be together, may be! Events of life, the unpredictability factor of the destiny and the survival instinct had made me see things differently by then. Probably this is how you mature; to own up the consequences of your decisions, whether good or bad, you face it even if it gets scary many a times ! Then you, Nisha, blessed us with your presence and our life became complete again!! So, your Papa never cheated on me and he loved me with all that he had till the very last breath !”
Nisha, had her jaw dropped while hearing the whole narrative ! It was the first time that her mom was opening up as a woman to her . Never before !
Tring Tring. The door bell rang. Mili came running and announced with a big grin, “Di !! Bhaiya is here !! Bhaiya !!”
Nisha suddenly stood up and was about to rush down when she hesitated and stayed back. Charulata was noticing everything. She stood up slowly and pulled her own necklace out of her neck with a locket having letters “CN” engraved in a floral pattern on it. She slowly put it on Nisha and kissed her forehead and nodded looking into her eyes!
Dipesh came running upstairs , touched Charulata’s feet, and said,”Maa… I couldn’t inform …. as…Maa…”
“It’s your house ,Dipu!! No need to explain anything.” , said Charulata with a smile and patted Dipesh’s shoulder as a gesture of assurance .
Charulata took the stairs down. In her mind she said : “CN– C for Chabbi and N for Nisha. Nisha is Chabbi’s but more than that ,she is mine . CN!”
“Why ? Why? Dipesh , you know I can’t stay without you !! Then, Why?”, Nisha was saying.
“I am sorry!! Now come home ! The house looks like a coffin without you and your silly pranks. Let’s restart Nishu!! I adore you and you know that!!”, Dipesh replied.
“Ok now wait Dip… not here … wait… Mumma might come back…”, Nisha was suppressing her laughter while saying this.
Charulata could hear the voices fade in the background . She smiled brightly .Magic , I have seen it happen, she said to herself!
1- Chittau Pitha- an Odia delicacy which is prepared on special occasion of Chitalagi Amabashya and loved by all age groups.
2- Sambalpuri Pata Saree- Handloom Saree from Odisha
3-Chabbi- Choti Mumma’s name.
The prompts used for this Blog Hop is : Magic, I have seen it happen