Monday, October 30, 2006

Right or Wrong? Yes or No? Black or White?
Is everything as simple as that?
She woke up to the sound of her mother's groaning. "Ma, what's wrong" , she said, turning on the night light. On the bed lay a shrivelled woman; she looked up at her daughter and smiled. She still has the most dazzling smile, she thought. Even as she lay there, covered by blankets, her left side completely paralysed, there was a grace about her. A light still shone in her eyes. "Is that hope I detect in her eyes?" , thought Palak.
"Here Ma, this will help relieve you of the pain", handing her a white tablet and a glass of luke warm water from the thermos which lay permantly on her mother's right bed-side table along with an assortment of medicines and syrups.
"Lie down now and try and sleep, it's good for you", and palak settled down on a chair, her legs propped up on her mother's bed and a copy of the latest Reader's Digest. She could see herself in the mirror on the opposite wall.
She quite liked what she saw. A little bit of concealor would hide those dark circles perfectly! she thought and a sigh escaped her. She remebered back in college, her lovely long, thick black hair, which she would keep tied loosely with a clip. She had been "Miss Fresher" in college and also " The Most Likely to Succeed" when she left college armed with a degree in Public Relations.
Her first job had been with a car-sales agency and that is where she had met Raj. He was her boss there, his dad owned the showroom. He was charming, polite and not bad looking. He had helped Palak understand the policies and the procedures of the agency. He really did help me in those days, when papa had that accident, and ma was at home alone, he stayed with pa in the hospital and also donated blood, she thought. I guess he too wasnt strong enough to marry a girl with no dowry, a sick mother and a brother who just wouldnt accept any responsibiity. She knew she should get married. She wanted to. But then who will take care of ma? There was a time, she had been naive enough to believe that when she married, her husband would insist that they stayed at her place and with her mother. She knew better now. Her friends thought she should get married. "You need to think about your future. What are you going to do? You are 32 years old, with no career. Being good is one thing and being foolish another. You brother has enough money, he's married and settled, he should look after her, she's his mother too, you know!",they had said. It wasnt so simple. Her bhabhi didnt want an old woman in her house. It didnt matter to her that this old woman had brought up the father of her two beautiful children. The kids didnt want an old woman in the house to tell them what to do. It didnt matter to them that this old woman, their grandma had so lovingly every year knitted pullovers for them. Back then she could. Nothing had gone the way she had planned ... she sighed and a tear rolled down her cheek.
Palak could hear the birds outside, the sun would be out soon. She looked at her reflection in the mirror carefully "Nothing had gone the way she had planned." and she smiled.
With this thought, she got up and went to make herself a cup of coffee.
A brand new day.. with it's gorgeous shades of gray was here.
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