Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Skeletons of the past

The clock struck 9 and the birds on the Gulmohar tree, accustomed to a pin drop silence in the campus at that time every day, started chirping and chatting and gossiping. For the past 29 years these birds have  been giving rhythm to the otherwise silent routine of Usha's days. This college was never a part of Usha's life, it was the whole. It had given her the purpose, the direction and the zest to move on, to make a difference and more than anything to exist respectably in this ever-questioning , ever-skeptical and ever-pestering cluster of in-humans, which we usually call society.

She has risen from the ranks in this college, toiling through hard work and dedication, from the post of temporary Hindi teacher, to a senior professor, to Hindi Section Dean to now the Principal of the college. This journey was definitely not easy, not because she was any less competent, but because all promotions and career progressions, were not seen as a well deserved reward, but an undue favour, which had roots in either pity  or sympathy or an "in-anticipation" gesture. However has the journey been, it is about to end with her retirement from this college as the Principal in August this year.

Its a Monday morning and  after the morning assembly, she had come to her room and just settled in her desk when her intercom rings.

" Principal Didi, there is a call for you from outside. The gentleman on the other side wants to talk to you urgently but refuses to tell his name. He is the same person who has called three times last week also, but could not talk to you since you had gone for the International Education Summit to Mumbai. May I transfer the call?"

There was a pause, which to Geeta at the reception desk seemed like eternity, but Usha did not even realize. She knew who could that be, and somewhere in her heart hoped that she was right and at that very moment somewhere deep inside a second voice creaked, hoping that she was wrong. But the moment of truth was here already and she had to act. Take the call and disturb the routine of her life or disconnect and keep those ripples at the shore. In that moment, her whole life flashed back in her eyes, like a 2 minute movie trailer, with all the twists and turns.

Usha has always been a stoic, reserved and "hard nut to crack" lady since her early days, who was known for her impulsive decisions and the will power and strength to own those decisions and never again look back and regret in life for the decisions she made. She was not one of those popular demand people, who have the universal appeal, and all around them, who have only two kinds of people, friends and very close friends. Usha, always took time to break the shackles of her personal space and allow people to peep inside. Only a select few, who passed the litmus test of her criteria, knew what lay within. And those people, although numbered, were her life's greatest treasure. They were the ones, who never judged her for her doings and wrong doings (if any), they just loved her for what she was and were always standing as staunch pillars around her in every walk of life.

She still remembers that evening at the bus stand 30 years ago. It was raining and she was waiting for her bus when her eyes met this charming man standing next to her. His were the most warm and scintillating eyes she had ever looked into ...well honestly she had never looked into any strange set of eyes before. He smiled looking at her and her world changed forever. The bus came and as it always happens, everyone at the bus stand, including her, managed to get into the bus in the stipulated time. (no matter how long the queue or in most cases crowd, in the end everyone manages to get on the bus, some early some late..that's the way with life too) Today, unlike other days her focus was not to get any seat, but a seat next to "him". And that she did  and from that moment started her life journey. She was love struck from the word go and she just drifted away with him ignoring all reasons and sound advice of people around. Within next two months, the nuptial knot was tied in the legal presence of Lord Shiva.

Her family was against the marriage as they were not sure of the background of Sudhir, but Usha was in love..and in the love abode there is no room for reason. Usha never met Sudhir's family since he told her there was none. Usha was still in her dream world and could not stop doting her destiny, when the blow hit her straight on her face. One day Sudhir left never to return, only leaving a note for Usha. In that note, very mercilessly, he had confessed that he is already married and has a wife and two kids in his village. They have come to know about his extramarital affair and his brother in law has warned him that if he doesn't return immediately, he will have him behind bars.

So that was the end of her dream and she was forcefully woken up by the cruel reality of her life. She was so heartbroken that did not even feel like sharing the news of her pregnancy with Sudhir. Since that day Usha never looked back and has moved on in life. She has held her ground and faced all the challenges of her life with courage and strength. Her power source is his son Pulkit, and she has reaped him with all the love and hope possible in the world. Pulkit, who knows about Sudhir, has never met him and neither is he interested. For him his mother is all he could ever need and is content and happy in his life.

Geeta's voice jolts Usha out of her thoughts  - "Principal Didi, the person is waiting for your response. What should I tell him?"

Usha knows the person is Sudhir. He had written to her 10 days back telling her, his wife is no more and his life is lonely without a companion. Has expressed his desire to be with her for the rest of his life. For the first time in life Usha did not know which way to go. Could she forgive Sudhir and open a new chapter of her life with him or go on with her life as usual ignoring his existence. She could no longer procrastinate this moment, so with a heavy heart she asked Geeta to connect the phone.

Hello Usha..How have you been?? came the words but to Usha's ears they sounded like .."How have you been without me?? " There was a gush of anger, remorse and pity , all mixed in one for Sudhir in her heart. All of a sudden she had this new strength in her...all this while she had felt  like a victim, some one to whom injustice was done to, but in this moment of retribution, for the first time she felt in charge of her life. And then the decision was not difficult.

Effortlessly she said " Sudhir, I thank you for not being with me and my son all this while. I would have never wanted my son to turn out like you. I forgive you and hope you can forgive yourself too someday"

And she hung up.


  1. I have gooseflesh.I cannot express how much the story moved me. And even I would say that if I was in place of Usha would have done the same. It was not loneliness but sheer guilt which was killing Sudhir. Kudos woman!


  2. I loved the ending! Usha showed the spine that few of us sadly lack.......

    1. Yes Mina... The power to say no...all of us need it


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