Monday, January 27, 2014

The Choice that wasn't…

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“It’s the time to Disco”… I could hear the notes fading away as I pushed my way out of the over crowded pub to breathe in some fresh air. As I leaned against the balcony railing I could hear the crowd exclaim as the notes of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” filled the air. I was busy watching the crowd gyrate to the music when a figure in blue caught my eye...

She looked familiar; the long flowy hair, almond shaped eyes, the dimple cheeked smile… I exercised my limited grey cells but could not place a finger on her identity.

“Arti it’s high time you picked up one of those memory booster tonics from Mehta Uncle’s Pharmacy” I was just reminding myself when I heard a voice shout “Priya, can you spare a minute??” The mystery girl in blue instantly turned and I slapped my forehead... ‘Oh that’s Priya Malhotra from St. Xaviers!” Memories of our college days flooded through me as I watched Priya talk to a petite girl, the owner of the voice I guessed.

Bold and Beautiful was how I remembered Priya, the “cutest guy” of our batch, she was known for to be a tomboy. I distinctly remember envying her for the kind of freedom she got, discotheques, late night partying, weekend trips to Mahabaleshwar and Khandala, she did it all while we strove real hard to make it home by the 9 o’clock curfew. The last I heard about her was that she was into a “Till death do us apart” relationship with Raunak, another of my classmates.

“Arti?? Is that you Arti??? Oh Goodness Me!! I cannot believe this” wailed someone in what seemed to be an honest attempt to imitate Bianca Castafiore, bringing me out of the world of oblivion. I turned back just in time to see that same petite girl walk towards me with Priya following closely behind. "Hey it’s me Radhika, Does the name ring a bell? From Xaviers…remember me and Priya?”

“Of course I do!!” I said. “Fancy meeting you guys here” I added smilingly. We spent the next 15 minutes reviving our college days. Radhika was still the same but Priya had changed drastically.  She seemed to have turned from a wild “I give this world a damn” tomboy to a subdued, sober girl from next door.

As we exchanged phone numbers I casually remarked ‘So wedding bells ringing for any of you?” Radhika murmured a few inaudible words while Priya maintained a stoic silence. The very next moment she glanced at her watch and said “Hey Radhika it is almost midnight, I think we should get going”, without waiting for a response they bade me a quick goodbye and made their way to the exit.“It was really nice meeting you Arti” was all that Radhika could manage saying as she followed Priya out of the main door.

I couldn't get this meeting out of my mind while I drove back home. What was it that had brought about such a distinct change in Priya...? Why did the mere mention of the word “Marriage” make them leave so abruptly...” I wondered.

“Trillll Trillll” The alarm clock rang at 8:00 A.M the next morning rudely awakening me from my deep slumber. The strong smell of freshly brewed coffee filled my room waking my senses.. “Lord bless my roommate for being such a sweetheart” I silently whispered a prayer.

I tottered towards the kitchen, memories of the previous night still afresh in my mind. Impulsively I picked the phone and dialed a friend of mine from college, Reema. I couldn't contain myself when she picked the phone on the fourth ring; I narrated to her the entire meeting episode, especially what had been bothering me. “Didn't you know?” Reema sounded surprised, “Poor soull, her parents were against her relationship with Raunak since he did not belong to their caste nor was as financially well off as them. They were too worried about what would happen to their position in society if they gave their consent for the marriage. Her wedding has now been fixed with a man 10 years her senior who runs his family business”

“No wonder” I thought. This explained Priya’s behavior the night before…we chatted for a few minutes before I kept the phone down.

How Ironical could life be?” I thought as I listlessly flipped through the paper lying next to me. Here was me, a person who had lived most of her life by the 9 o’clock curfew, no discos, late night beach parties, obeying and respecting the rules set by my parents. Yet today when it came to serious issues in my life such as my marriage or my career I was given the freedom of choice for the simple reason that my parents placed endless amount of faith in me knowing that I would never take the wrong decision, would never let them down. On the other hand was Priya; a person who has lived most of her life partying into the wee hours of the morning, with no one to question her when she returned home or for that matter when she didn't… This was the kind of freedom she got from her family, yet today she was helplessly tied down. That very family which let her soar high and fly wherever she wanted to, had today cut her wings down. They were taking one of the most important decisions of her life for her. She was being told to take on life’s interminable journey with a person she didn't want as a companion. There used to be a time when I would envy Priya.. Today I could only pity her.

The pretty woman ring tone I had assigned to my home number rang making me break away from my thoughts, “Hello Mamma” I happily greeted my mom. “What’s up beta, you sound very happy today” She said. If only she knew that she and dad were the reason for my unbound happiness… for having known when to hold me back and when to set me free…



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38 comments:

  1. There was a time when I used to read such stories from the point of you of the child, I now read them from the vantage point of a parent! :D Either way I enjoyed this one.

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    1. True, we don different caps in different phases of our life dont we :)

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  2. Of what use is the freedom to party and stay out till late if you are not given the liberty to make your life choices.

    Pity, she'll end up blaming her parents all her life for her unhappiness.

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    1. True, but I guess like Priya, some lessons we learn rather late in life .. sometimes when it is too late

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  3. That's the irony of life. It's really sad that even today people believe in caste, religion and horoscopes when they make a decision about marriage. Isn't it enough that the person that their child is marrying is a good, honest, kind man?
    Good one Seeta :)

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    1. Yup, but things are changing, this was written at a time when I used to find many going through this ordeal.. today I think life can be called a tad bit better for those who need to make such choices

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  4. loved the way you unfolded the story! nice piece of writing!

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  5. Tables turn, life changes. And yes, life is pretty ironical at times. Well narrated.

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    1. Absolutely Alka! That's life I guess..

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  6. So sad! Such trivial liberties are very small compared to the freedom to make the larger decisions in life. And happens with so many people.

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    1. Very true, but it takes some a while before they realize that.. doesn't it?

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  7. Nice post, you brought out the irony of the situation quite nicely through this story.

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    1. Thanks Jairam :) I have had your suggestion about wedding bells on mind all day today :)

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  8. Most of the times we realise it later that we were/are really lucky... Hope 'Priya' would feel the same in her future too... Nice story.

    Regards,
    Sindhu
    Tantu
    The Arts & Me

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    1. Absolutely.. and amen to that :)

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  9. Irony of life indeed... The people we think are free are the ones bound in chains

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    1. What a wonderful way to put it.. loved it Musafir!

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  10. Lovely Seeta :) Glad you put in on your Blog from your Laptop :)
    Freedom & envy - -> Forced & pity
    Nicely expressed story with lessons for parents.

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    1. Thanks Anita, I am mighty glad too! :)

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  11. Lovely tale Seeta. Loved d way it ended :)

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  12. A sad one for me. There are many Priyas around us.
    The courage to stand up for oneself is still lacking in many of these Priyas.

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    1. Oh yes there are... I have come across many too... fortunately the number has been going down nowadays what with parents opening up to the concept of cross culture marriages

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  13. Sooooooooooo very true!! I know a preeti too... Now only time will tell which of the two I become :P

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    1. ROFL Red! Trust you to come up with something like that :P

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  14. There are many girls in our society who are compelled to live a life determined by others. Thank God that we have parents who put their complete trust in us when it comes to big issues that steer our life. I feel sorry for Priya, too..

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  15. I just do not understand why in our society parents are so hyper sensitive when it comes to love marriage or marriage in another caste.

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    1. Sometimes I feel we might understand why our parents behaved the way they did when we become parents ourselves... till them it is just speculation ..

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  16. A child has to be patient and wise like you to appreciate it's parents' discipline---you were lucky to have such parents and they are lucky to have you.

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  17. What's "letting parents down"? . Although you are trying to break from one social order .. and its a good thing .. You are subconsciously creating another one .. which your kids will rebel against .. that is if they don't want to "let u down" :) .. One thing may .. just may help to break this cycle is to stop thinking about getting "let down" ..There are no right choices in life . . .. and also "pour some sugar on me?? " upgrade ur music babe

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    1. Choices are always right, they might have different consequences, but they are right given the situation you are in. And as far as the music goes, if you have arrived here through a social media site you would have read what I wrote there - This, is an old post. Thanks for stopping by Anon! :)

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  18. I'm too old for social media .. def lepparrd was lame by about 1867 AD ..
    ... anytime author ;)

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    1. That's sad! Social media is for all, use it to know its potential!

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  19. Neat job of narration, Seeta! And that was a glorious punchline - 'when to tie me down and when to set me free'

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    1. Thanks Suresh, that means a lot. This was a real old post.

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