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Identity

Vineeta relaxed in the rocking chair in her small balcony, appreciating the beautiful rain drizzling from the heavens. She had always loved rains. They seemed to sense her mood. They seemed to reflect the rhythm of her soul. They always made her feel cozy, comfortable. The rains today stretched out till the horizon, fading everything in view. But she knew, after the rains, the surroundings would look even more beautiful. The trees would look greener, flowers more colourful, skies bluer and mud browner. As if a new energy had been pumped into the universe, as if suddenly everything had regained its youth. She loved the smell of wet mud. It reminded her of the rains she used to play and get drenched in in Ratnagiri, her grandma’s place. She had always loved rains. But she hated storms. And exactly two years back, she had had no idea of the horrendous storm about to come in her life.
For Vineeta, life had been all about loving her family. She was an obedient daughter, a well-mannered daughter-in-law, a devoted wife and a doting mother. Her whole day was occupied with cooking for her husband and children, looking after her mother-in-law, playing a perfect host to her husband’s guests, keeping the house clean and instilling good values into her children. And one fine day, Ravi, her husband of twelve years, announced that their marriage was over. Vineeta had never ever thought in her wildest dreams that she would have to face this day. For her it seemed the end of her world, her entire universe came crashing down in front her. Ravi’s colleague from office, Anvita, whom Vineeta had once complimented for her good looks, was the reason behind breaking of her marriage. Vineeta did not say anything, she was speechless. Ravi had expected her to fight with him, but she said nothing. His mother shouted at him, asked him to at least think about their children, but Vineeta kept mute. Ravi announced that he was leaving the house to go and stay with Anvita. But Vineeta quietly gathered all her belongings and children and immediately left the house. “This is your house and without you, it has no meaning for me”, was all she said to him that night.
Whole night, sleeping at her maternal home, Vineeta was awake. She couldn’t sleep a blink. Till now, she had led life for others. Her world had only revolved around her husband and children. She had no identity of her own. But now that her husband had thrown her out of his life, suddenly her life had become meaningless. Had it not been for her children, she could have ended her life. But now, for the sake of her children, she had to stay strong and she had to find an identity. Next morning, in spite of her parents’ repeated pleas to stay with them, she moved out of their house. She knew however much they loved her; she could not burden them with her and her children’s responsibility at this stage. For now, till she found a place of her own, she would keep her children here, but once she had a decent place that she could call home, she would take her children along.
Vineeta first went in search of a place to live, or better say, spend nights. She was determined to work whole day, not just to earn money, but also to keep her mind busy and free of all troubling thoughts. She found a room with a small attached kitchen in a working woman’s hostel. After keeping her luggage in the room, she fished out her certificates and wiped the dust off them. She had a B.Com degree, and she knew she did not have much of job opportunities. Yet she was determined to do any kind of decent work.
After a few days of search, Vineeta landed a job as a sales girl in a big mall. The timings were morning 9 to evening 5. For her, it was a good start. But she needed more. She applied for the post of teacher in night school. In a month’s time, she got the post of Accounts teacher for twelfth Commerce students. She took classes from 7 till 10. In the meantime, her children had gradually adapted to the changes in her life. Vineeta was aware that all this was certainly taking a toll on her children’s wellbeing, especially emotionally. At a time when they needed both parents most, they were having none. Vineeta made it a point to spend every moment of Sunday and any other holiday exclusively with her children. Her five year old son Ayaan used to throw temper tantrums, would get mad at her. ‘Why don’t you come here daily?’ he would shout. ‘Take us with you’, he would demand. But her ten year old daughter Aarohi understood. She was becoming mature beyond age.
Simultaneously, she had to attend court for the proceedings of the divorce. Ravi would always be accompanied by Anvita. But Vineeta would always go alone. Her father wanted to accompany her, but she never allowed him to. Ravi tried to speak to her a couple of times. But she had nothing left to say to him. In the court, Ravi announced that he was ready to support her, give her whatever alimony she wanted. But she flatly refused. She did not want his money. Her only expectation was that they should contribute equally for their children’s education. And the divorce was through. She never spoke to Ravi even once.
Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Vineeta’s circus around her jobs, herself and her children continued. She avoided going home the Sunday’s which Ravi came to meet their children. One such Sunday morning, when Ravi was visiting the kids, Vineeta sat alone in her small room, gazing out of the window, her mind blank. And suddenly out of the blue, words began clouding her mind, they started taking shape of a story. Vineeta grabbed a diary and pen from her purse and began to pen down the thoughts from her mind. She kept writing the whole day, without feeling hungry, without feeling thirsty. She wrote and wrote till her story came to a logical conclusion. When she finally looked at the watch, it was 2:00 am! She smiled to herself with satisfaction. She had penned down the story of a young girl from a poor farmer’s family who goes on to becoming an IAS officer.
She had been an avid reader in her college days and she knew a magazine, ‘LadiesSpecial’, a biweekly magazine, which used to accept articles written by women and for women. Divya, her colleague from the mall, who was well versed with computers, helped her type the story and submit it to the ‘LadiesSpecial’ website. Again days passed, weeks passed and in her hectic routine, Vineeta forgot all about the story. Nearly one and a half month later, she received a royalty cheque from ‘LadiesSpecial’. Surprised, she told Divya about it. “Hey, lets check the email from which we submitted the story”, Divya said, excited. It was Divya’s mail id. And sure enough, there were four mails from ‘LadiesSpecial’. First one was announcing the acceptance of her story for their ‘short fiction’ section. Next was declaring that her story was published and a link for the same. The third, which had come some fifteen days after the second, informed her that her story had garnered tremendous response and that many readers had written to the magazine that they had loved the story. And finally, the fourth one was informing her about the dispatch of the cheque and a request to become a regular contributor to the short story section. Vineeta was ecstatic beyond words. She quickly sent them a reply that she would keep sending a short story for every issue.
Within no time, Divya taught her the basics of using a computer. Vineeta started sending mails from her own id. Every night, after returning home, she would sit down to write a story. Next evening, she would type it and store it in a CD from a nearby cyber café. Once every fifteen days, she would send one story to ‘LadiesSpecial’. Vineeta never ran out of ideas. She was inspired by the stories of women and happenings around her. Each story she wrote revolved around various problems faced by women in the modern era, and yet how they succeeded, overcoming all obstacles. Gradually Vineeta began writing articles on various social issues which were published by ‘LadiesSpecial’. With time, the circulation of ‘LadiesSpecial’ increased three-fold owing to Vineeta’s stories and articles and Vineeta became a known name in the literary circuit.
One day, a journalist from a well known, leading newspaper came to interview Vineeta. She asked what her inspiration for writing these ‘women oriented’ stories was. On that, Vineeta told her that she was inspired by the bitter experiences from her own life, which she soon planned to pen down in the form of a novel. When this interview got published in the newspaper, publishing houses began contacting Vineeta, expressing their interest in publishing her story. Other leading newspapers contacted Vineeta for writing columns in their news papers. Vineeta was not used to all limelight, but she accepted and faced it with grace.
The royalties kept coming, Vineeta’s articles and stories kept getting published, now in various magazines and newspapers. Now Vineeta had sufficient amount saved to stay in a big, two BHK home, albeit on rent. She rented a nice cozy flat in an expensive locality and shifted in it with Aarohi and Ayaan. Both kids were ecstatic. “Is this our home mommy?” Ayaan had asked. To that, she replied, “For now, it is, but soon we will have a home we can call ours”.
Now Vineeta did not need to work as a sales girl anymore. Of course she still stayed friends with Divya as she owed her a lot. She also did not need to take classes, but on the request of students, she continued taking classes two hours in the evening. Her parents were proud of her. On women’s day, she was crowned ‘Best woman achiever of the year’ by the city’s most prestigious woman’s organization. Speaking at the event, Vineeta gave the credit of her success to her parents, for having introduced her to the literary world since she was a kid and thus sowing the seed of literature in her tender mind, as well as for always being there for her through thick and thin. She also mentioned her children, who were now her strength; strength to fight the world, to stand up against all odds. This event received major coverage in all leading newspapers. Vineeta became a celebrity of sorts. Anywhere she would go, strangers would come and congratulate her, tell her that they were fans of her work, ask for her autograph, want to click a snap with her. People started inviting her for book launches, as a judge for various literary competitions, for sharing her experiences during cultural fests.
Vineeta gradually completed her novel which was based on her life, titled ‘Parineeta – being a woman’. It got published by one of the best publishing houses. And within no time, it became a national best seller. Till now, only people from and around her city knew her. But after the success of her novel, she began receiving loads and loads of mails from people all over the country. Women who had faced similar problems in life wrote to her appreciating the stance she had taken without breaking down. She was soon hired by a leading newspaper as an expert advisor for a column discussing problems faced by women. Peoples’ behavior and attitude towards her too had changed suddenly. So-called relatives who had cut off all ties with her when her husband disowned her, now suddenly remembered her presence. They started calling her and visiting her like long lost friends.
Life is like travelling on a steep mountain road. We face difficult situations like the tricky curves and steep ups and downs daily, yet we stay on the road. But sometimes, unexpectedly, life throws us out of track, off the road, down towards the valley. And then just as we are anticipating our fall into the valley, life offers a parachute that not only saves us from the fall into the valley, but takes us to an even higher position than the road before.
Vineeta was satisfied. Her parents and children, the only people that mattered, were happy, and hence she was happy. Ravi had called her up once or twice to congratulate on her success, but she had never answered his call. He had left many messages, but she had returned none. And today morning, Ravi came to see her.
“Children are not home”, Vineeta said without looking at him.
“I know, I have come to see you. I know I have hurt you a lot Vineeta. I did not even think twice before leaving you. I never appreciated what all you did for me and my family. I always took you for granted. I never gave you the status you deserved. I am your biggest culprit. I have come here today to ask you to forgive me. I am so sorry for everything.”
Vineeta said nothing.
“I can never forgive myself if you don’t forgive me. Please come back into my life. Life has taught me a lesson the hard way. Anvita never looked after my mother, nor had she look after the house. She was only interested in her career. When she realized what it meant to be in a marriage, she retraced her steps. We are no longer together. She wanted to have all the fun and shoulder no responsibilities. I was the biggest fool, who had it all, a loving wife like you, two beautiful children, yet I threw it all away. Please, please forgive me. Please come back” and he began to cry like a baby.
Vineeta did not say anything for a long while. Had this happened a year and a half back, she would have shouted at him, vented all her pent up anger. But today, she felt detached. She felt nothing for him, neither sorry, nor angry. He seemed to have come from a life she had left behind long long back. She finally spoke.
“I have already forgiven you Ravi. I don’t have any feelings left for you, neither bad, nor good. You threw me out of your life at a time when I was completely dependant on you, when you were my earth and my life was only about revolving around you like the moon. I needed you then. But now, I have come far away. So far, that now there is no gravitational force left that can make me revolve around you. In a way, I am thankful to you. Had it not been for you, I wouldn’t have been what I am today. But again, there were two possibilities that could have happened. I could have gone the downhill course, maybe committed suicide. But my parents and children helped me survive that worst phase of life. And now I have turned over a new leaf in life. So I forgive you with all my heart. But I cannot come back to you, ever. Wish you all the best in life".
Vineeta relaxed in the rocking chair in her small balcony, appreciating the beautiful rain drizzling from the heavens. She had always loved rains. They seemed to sense her mood. They seemed to reflect the rhythm of her soul. They always made her feel cozy, comfortable. The rains today stretched out till the horizon, fading everything in view. But she knew, after the rains, the surroundings would look even more beautiful. The trees would look greener, flowers more colourful, skies bluer and mud browner. As if a new energy had been pumped into the universe, as if suddenly everything had regained its youth. She loved the smell of wet mud. It reminded her of the rains she used to play and get drenched in in Ratnagiri, her grandma’s place. She had always loved rains. As she now sat watching the rain, Vineeta felt at peace. One and half year back, she was a nobody, just like everyone else, but today she had an identity, an identity of her own.

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About The Author

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Ketaki Patwardhan Nirkhi

Public & Government Service

Maharashtra ,  INDIA

I am Dr.Ketaki, an anesthetist by profession and writer by passion. My debut novel, "Those enchanted four and half years" is a medical college campus lovestory. My next novel 'The missing connection' which is a psychological thriller has been launched recently.  Few of my short stories have been published on sites like induswomanwriting, shortstorybook, Muse India, writers cafe, Your story club, Litizen etc. Besides writing, I love reading, travelling and playing casio. My husband, Dr.Aniruddha is also an anesthetist and we stay in Mumbai with our cute little daughter Isha.

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