“Ms. Sanjana Dash, Ms. Dash …. Please welcome on the stage!” The announcement had been done.
The spotlight was on her now. Sanjana, today looked radiant in her amber-colored saree with a black border. With a neat french bun and a big red bindi on her forehead, she could easily turn a few heads towards her ;an aura that is not common for a 56 year old to create !
Sanjana, came back from her lost thoughts after the announcement.
“We are delighted to announce that we have with us today, Ms. Sanjana Dash, winner for Women’s Achievement Award of the year for making a social impact. Please grace the stage , ma’am!”
“We are thrilled to have Ms. Sanjana Dash who has not only made herself stand out in life but has also made so many women change their narratives for good. Ma’am we want to hear from you today, how did you come so far, announced the Master of Ceremonials while the other dignitaries graced the front seat of the hall.
She was handed over a cheque of the winning amount amidst applause and was directed to the podium where a mike waited for her to make her winning speech.
Yes, People would hear from her! She was going to speak and there was an audience! It felt surreal. With a warm smile , she slowly walked the path thinking that it was probably a dream. She faced the hall full of people seated around round tables that were arranged in a zig-zag manner looking at her with eagerness filled eyes. Her heart beat faster and she was nervous as it was her first public speech in so many years. She looked at the two sets of eyes , from the back of the hall that were fixed on her giving her all the fuel that she needed . It was her friend Madhavi!
After a pause, she started saying ” I am Sanjana. I am happy to be here today and I am truly honored that my small steps were recognized and this felicitation means a lot to me. Probably it has given me a boost to give more focus towards my dream and work with more zeal. Thank you for this respect and I am deeply touched today. It was not easy for me to reach where I am today . All I can say is my unhappy days propelled me to seek happiness and I was blessed to be able to do what I wanted to do always; to be able to have my own identity. I wanted to be known by my name, not just as someone’s daughter, wife, or mother. I am thankful to the almighty and few well wishers that I did not give up. Well, you have all known my life through interviews and articles. So, it was not easy.”
There was a big round of applause from the audience.
“Ma’am , so how are you going to celebrate this achievement?”, asked the host.
“I have planned to go on a trip with my beloved on a trip. There can be nothing better than spending time with the one you love! Well, he is my one and only son, Ayush, she said with a bright smile and a sense of pride.” The spotlight was now on a gentleman sitting on the last table and was grinning. The entire crowd looked back and there was a thunderous round of applause.
Sanjana, came home with her son.
“Maa, I am so proud of you. Can you imagine you gave a speech today? How cool is that !! You always wanted that , remember? I am so happy. I took so many pictures of you. I am going to upload all on social media handles now.”
“Do, whatever you want just have dinner first. See what we have today.”, Sanjana said.
“Maa… Puri and Alu dum .You are the best ” he kissed her mom’s hand and Sanjana planted a kiss on her son’s forehead.
Ayush bid good night to her mother and retired into his room.
Sanjana cleaned the kitchen. It had been a long day today for her . Feeling tired she made herself a cup of tea . She added some ginger to make it strong and went into the living room with her cup of steaming hot tea , turned the TV on, muted its sound and sat on the sofa with her legs stretched out on the Tea-Poi. She felt different today. The day had been a mixed bag of emotions. She sipped on the hot beverage and her mind was lost in thoughts. Her life flashed in front of her.
“Sanjana ,First Prize in extempore Inter School Competition Third time in a row !!” The announcer had announced and Sanjana, with two pleats and a big grin, had jumped from her seat and had rushed to grab prize and had posed in front of the camera for the photo that got published in the school magazine.
She had been a bright child from the start. As a disciplined child, Sanjana had always obeyed her parents and was an ideal child who had not expected much in life but probably wished her life to be normal without any dramatic twists and turns in it. This is the reason, probably why she had agreed to go for arrange marriage. She had always thought that as parents always understand us better and should be in charge of choosing the right kind of life partner for us.
She had married a doctor from a reputed family. She was satisfied that she will at least have a life that is secured and even her parents were relieved that their daughter’s life was in order as per social norms. Little did she know that the phrase “man proposes and God disposes “ would be her life story so soon. Rajiv was a heart surgeon who knew how to identify the pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein and dissect the chambers of the heart if need be but had no clue about the feelings that resided in it. He was a person with a lot of ego and was a frustrated soul. He seemed to have married Sanjana, only to fulfill his carnal desires and nothing beyond that. It took some time for Sanjana to understand that her life could be anything but normal. She had discussed this issue with her close ones and everyone suggested ,”Have a baby, Sanjana. That will ignite some bonding in Rajiv. It would be wonderful if a son is born.”
When Ayush was born, Sanjana had elated, not just because she was a mother now but she had probably gotten the key for a happy married life and her life would now be ‘normal’. Little did she know that Rajiv , was not even fit to be called a man. He had no affection for his son as well. His behavior had worsened over the years with his increasing work pressure. His entire attention was on his career and he had a dual personality who gave his best smile to the strangers and outsiders while passing on his fiercest frustration at home. This frustration had become a part of Sanjana’s life as well. Rajiv had also started hitting and behaving roughly behind their bedroom door to prove his insecure masculinity. Whenever he was at the receiving end at work, he would make Sanjana suffer to feel good about himself. Bruises, scars, dark patches around her eyes, scratches on the skin had become a part of Sanjana’s life. Her energy to stop Rajiv was always met with more aggressiveness from him. She had quietly drunk all the poison for her only son, whom she loved beyond any parameters. Mother’s love is boundless. and probably this love is not always direct. Mother’s love is also hidden in the difficulties undertaken silently to protect her offspring, which remains a mystery to others. What would Ayush do without a father, she would think whenever the thought of escaping her marriage knocked on the doors of her mind. And then, quietly resolve to continue putting up with Rajiv but not until she discovered that Rajiv had an illicit affair. A woman probably can tolerate anything but not the backstab or the humiliation that her husband sleeps with some other woman and pretending to be her husband back home.
She did not know, from where she had gathered all the courage, the day she had slapped Rajiv looking into his eyes. She had taken Ayush in her arms and had just left. She did not return to her parent’s place, for somehow she had quietly resented them for choosing Rajiv and ruining her life. She did not bother to file for divorce nor did Rajiv ever bother to look out for her or their son. The life that Sanjana experienced after this decision was full of twists and turns. What came to her rescue were two things. Her ability to cook delicious, aromatic, and unique recipes and her college friend Madhavi , who had supported her financially and emotionally to start her life afresh.
Sanjana, realized that her tea was over. She looked at the watch. 11:10 pm . She went into her room and after a small prayer tried to sleep. She could not, her past life danced in front of her. She saw it all. She saw everything, the pain of being abandoned was more than the punches in the bed room, the fear of bringing up her son all alone was more fearful than the fear she carried when she was abused verbally and physically by her own husband, the stress of meeting her ends meet was far more as compared to the stress of living under the protected roof of her abusive husband. But still it felt dignified. She kept the fire of passion in her burning and kept working on building her catering business. Slowly over the years it had become profitable and she had been able to employ many women who became part of her journey. Slowly, Social media gave her the recognition and winning Cooking competitions as if gave her an identity that she had always craved for. Being felicitated and being invited for a speech was nothing less than a miracle. When she was behind the mike today, she felt as if she was that little girl with two pleats who used to win prizes for debates . Life , as if had come one full circle for her ! She burst out crying , tears that said many emotions that were difficult to decipher. They had everything in them; happiness, sadness, relief, anger,frustration everything.
Let us keep the fire of passion burning for it might help burn the evil named frustration in our lives.
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