Chapter 264: Growing Up

Well for the Mumbai clan the storm may have blown off, at least for the moment, but it had a far reaching impact on Anya who was quite shaken after the incident (actually it had been building up for days and the incident was just the icing on the cake so to speak), for many days.

For the young girl, poised on the edge of womanhood, the sudden deluge of the ugly facts of life were quite overwhelming. Her carefree life seemed to have never been and it was as if she had been forcibly bundled onto a crazy ride from which there was no escape, no off button.

And this they called life.

It had all started with her innocent ‘crush’ on Sherry followed by her tiff with her mother. Deeply hurt and feeling rebellious she had confided her woes to Aisha hoping for a solution from her Guruji; but that is when she got her second shock.

Instead of getting a sympathetic shoulder and some bracing advice, she got an earful about how ungrateful she was, how she thought only about herself, how childish and immature she was with her head in the clouds miles away from reality – Anya was stunned and sat in shocked silence as the lashing was totally unexpected and according to her unjustified.

Anya gathered her dignity around her and to prove Aisha wrong, she silently swept away, without a word; well it either that or burst into tears – what was wrong with both her BFFs! Defiantly she had turned to Sherry and flirted even more with him; that is via her mobile, though she did restrain herself from pouring out her offended sensibilities to him, partly because she didn’t know him that well as yet and of course that would mean talking about her BFFs to a relatively unknown person – she was too loyal for that and wasn’t that mad at them!

It was in this frame of mind that Anya had gone to RM and had her tete-a-tete with Khushi, upset, rebellious and quite alone in this world. And that is why Khushi’s words had had such a big impact on her Perhaps you are right, perhaps you are justified in thinking they don’t understand you, but the question is do you understand them? Are you old enough, mature enough to understand their fears and concerns?”

Aisha’s accusation had rankled, especially since Anya considered herself to be mature and older than her tender years; she also prided herself in being able to see the other side, the others perspective without being judgemental. She was determined to prove Aisha wrong, and she had put herself in Anjali’s shoes and actually understood her concerns. But that we have already been through that, haven’t we? (Twice! A third time would be three much!).

Anyway, after sorting out her issues with Anjie, Anya went the extra mile to sort it out with her friend, philosopher and guide – Aisha. Perhaps it was time for her to be the guruji. But Aisha was in no mood to be guided or even let go of her guruji status, even if it were temporary – she was cold, standoffish and unresponsive to Anya’s numerous calls. But Anya, endowed with new found wisdom and maturity (the real-wala) and deep introspection (Aisha was upset about something and she needed her, no matter what she said) persisted. Anya was rewarded for her efforts and one day, finally Aisha gave in and threw her arms around Anya only to burst into tears. Anya too followed suit and they both cried in each others arms and felt much better for it. With a lot of coaxing, Anya managed to extract her story.

Aisha’s parents were constantly fighting and arguing, over her. Unlike Anjali, Aisha’s (step) mother had not really accepted Aisha and even though initially she had made an attempt, the distance between them had widened after the birth of her two children. Aisha’s father noticed and tried to compensate with his love and care but that was set off her stepmom. Aisha hated being the reason for their fights and tried to make herself as inconspicuous as possible but they didn’t have a mansion like the Goyals so it was rather difficult. Initially Aisha hadn’t really understood the finer details or they had tried to keep it under wraps but lately all the arguments had become more often and more loud, almost as if her mother was sending a strong message directly to Aisha ‘get out – you are not wanted – do you want to break up our marriage – do you care so little for your siblings’.

(Of course, before all of you get on the warpath, I would like to point out that this was Aisha’s dhristikon, her nazariya, her reading of the situation and I take no guarantees for its credibility – achcha now that we have hopefully cleared that up, let’s get back to our other tragic heroine- kismet ki maari ek aur abla naari – Aisha….Ufffff main bhi na)

The poor girl was almost at her tethers end, “I know Daddy loves me very much, but he also loves Sheena and Rahul,” she sobbed, “He is torn between us and often he yells at me to appease Mom, I know he doesn’t really mean it or maybe he does,” she burst into a fresh storm of weeping, “I think it would be best if I killed myself.”

Anya was horrified; never in a million years had she imagined the agony Aisha was undergoing, silently. Anya was ashamed of herself, and she called Aisha her BFF, she didn’t even know about her anguish she had been so mast and involved in her own self? She cursed herself for her blindness, selfishness, stupidity as she hugged Aisha fiercely, wondering what to do. It was true, where could she go; what could she do short of…

“No Aisha, NO,” She shook her fiercely, “Killing yourself is NOT the answer and don’t you DARE ever ever say that again, understand?” she shook her again as Aisha just sat like a rag doll, dull, spent and uncaring.

Fear clutched at Anya, “Aisha,” she steadied herself, “If you kill yourself, I swear I will kill myself too,” she said in a calm even tone.

Aisha seemed to come back to life, she started, “What rubbish Anya,” she shot back, a ghost of her former self.

But Anya persisted, “Yes rubbish I agree, but you started it, if you do it I would have to do it,” she said grimly and then suddenly relaxed, “After all you are my guruji,” she grinned drawing an answering wan smile.

Anya cheered up, all was not lost, they just had to find a solution; but what was the solution, her heart sank. But she kept up her spirits and cajoled, coaxed, threatened and bullied Aisha and brought her back inch by inch – she extracted a promise from Aisha that she wouldn’t do anything hasty that it was time for Gurudakshina that she Anya would find a way, she promised. She had heard of women’s hostels, she offered vaguely, she would find out, something would work out, they would handle it together, she even gave Aisha a blasting and turned on the emotional blackmail, “I am very hurt, why didn’t you tell me earlier, don’t you consider me your friend etc etc;” Aisha who couldn’t bear to see Anya upset forgot her troubles and set about consoling Anya.

After the storm, Aisha was much comforted and strengthened; she had a good night’s sleep, after many months.

Anya, on the other hand, spent a sleepless night. She discussed the issue with her parents but was unable to find a satisfactory solution, “Daddy, Aisha could come and stay with us couldn’t she?” she pleaded as she looked from her mum to her dad.

Kshitij pursed his lips and said regretfully, “Of course she could, but would her parents agree, she is a minor, without their permission we couldn’t bring her here. They may not want her, but then what would ‘society’ say? People go to ridiculous lengths just to keep their prestigious position in society,” he said rather bitterly as he shook his head, “And in fact if I were so much as to make the suggestion, it could backfire on Aisha for having discussed personal matters outside home and make things even more difficult for her.” He warned Anya categorically.

Anya’s face fell, she had been so sure when she had promised Gurudakshina that she had the solution, “Then should she go and stay with her maternal grandparents,” she said in a small voice, “But then that would mean she would have to leave Delhi and go to a small town almost a village near Ludhiana in Punjab! What about her studies?” And what about their friendship? She was almost in tears.

Khsitij shook his head, while Anjali hugged her, “Anya don’t worry so much and don’t poke your nose in other people’s business,” hating to see her daughter so distressed, “sab theek ho jayega, I am sure her dad will sort it out, you focus on your studies, first it was Sherry, now it is Aisha, when will you study?” The mother came out in full force, while Anya was disappointed; she couldn’t leave her friend like this could she? And what if she did commit suicide? Fear clutched her, should she talk to her dad, maybe he could help Aisha, he was a psychiatrist after all. Anya’s shoulders drooped, but then they would have to inform Aisha’s parents and dad was right, what if it backfired on Aisha, suppose things became worse?

Anya worried and fretted with no hope or clue as to how to fulfill her promise to make things right. And then the BadiMami bust up happened right in front of her eyes.

It was as if suddenly life was determined to show its true and harsh colors to Anya. The incident left Anya flabbergasted. Badi Mami’s hitherto unknown colorful personality burst upon Anya like a bucket of cold water and she had barely shaken herself dry when Aakash went and stripped as well – it was an ugly sight, especially for one who had led such a cocooned existence so far.

Anya couldn’t sleep that night as tried to come to terms with the unpleasant side to life and more importantly that of people. She realized what a protected, what a privileged existence she had had so far. Anya tried to talk to Anjie, but wasn’t really satisfied with the answers mainly because Anjali was unwilling to implicate or criticize either Mami or Aakash; she brushed it off as a misunderstanding, one off, nothing to really worry about etc etc.

Dissatisfied with Anjali’s excuses, feeling restless and looking for answers, Anya came to stay at RM for the weekend; Ankit stayed back because his diary was rather full (err he had a couple of birthday parties lined up for the weekend, one of which was a trip to the zoo from which nothing, not even a trip to Mamu’s house could lure him away – what would his friends say? Most importantly, what would Geetika say? She didn’t even know the difference between a Baboon and a Chimpanzee!)

Anya hovered around Nani, not quite sure how to broach the topic or her concerns. Nani looked at her knowingly, “Ka baat hai bitiya? Bahut pareshan ho?”

“Yes Nani,” Anya looked at Nani and said rather guiltily, “I overheard everything that day,” she made a sad face, “I feel for Buaji, how difficult it must be for her; how will she be ever happy?”

Nani looked at Khushi and smiled, she caressed her face, “Ahh you do have a soft heart; chinta nahi karo, sab theek ho jayega, with time, the deepest of wounds too heal.”

Anya shook her head unconvinced and still upset, unable to come to terms with the harsher realities of life – and Phoophaji! He didn’t look like he could swat a fly and look at the way he lost his temper; she never expected him to fly off the handle like this, Mamu perhaps – but to be fair to Mamu he had never actually screamed at Mami like that even though he did look capable of losing his temper! But Phoopaji? Never in a million years and what unjust comments, after all what had Buaji said? Moreover, Anya couldn’t just digest the fact that Buaji stood there silently and let him speak all that rubbish, if it were me, I would have surely let him have it, she thought mutinously even as she gently caressed the soft cheeks of the sleeping beauty in her arms.

Disturbed at seeing Anya’s long face, Nani tried to reassure her, “Anya bitiya, don’t worry so much, all this is normal and happens in every house, jahan do bartan hoga wahan aawaz toh hogi na?” she smiled and adjusted her pallu, “Aur waise bhi, Manorama ki toh aadat hai, she doesn’t really have malice in her heart; she will be alright, especially now that she has gotten what she was craving for, attention,” she paused, “before starting off again in a couple of days,” she sighed.

Anya looked at Arnav as he took Angel from her arms, “Yes Nani, but it isn’t fair!” she burst out agitated, “can’t you do something,” she was very upset and looked hopefully at Nani.

***

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9 thoughts on “Chapter 264: Growing Up”

  1. “.. if it were me, I would have surely let him have it, she thought mutinously even as she gently caressed the soft cheeks of the sleeping beauty in her arms.”

    Ahh.. to be young and mutinous! Sadly, it’s tough to change people’s true nature, and hence the sad part of life and relationships is to accept the bad along with the good (enough good to compensate for the rest I hope).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is true. In an extended family, one can understand human dynamics and interpersonal relationships across multiple generations. It can certainly be valuable to be able to observe and learn from multiple people and situations around you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes but a fine balance has to be drawn – too much of extended family and one ends up being too worldly wise and cynical (or manipulative depending on ones nature) and too little a naive trusting fool (guilty!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well said, Varsha.
        Dahlia, while a balance is needed, I think the degree of cynical and naïveté is a function of the individual’s intrinsic nature. It’s good to veer towards the naive a little I feel. The world looks a more hopeful place that way.
        The hard part is learning to differentiate between the respect for the position the relative holds with the person occupying that position (if that makes any sense?!)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree being naive one gets to be happier than being all suspicious but yes it is difficult to see beneath the veneer – like someone said jo jaisa hota hai woh vaisa hi dekhta hai.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart goes out to little Deva. The coming of a sibling can leave a lifelong scar on the first born. Dahlia, you have dealt with real issues and problems and given thought provoking perspective be it Anya’s issues with Sherry, her bff, Anjie etc or little Deva coming to terms with another person sharing his parents and space or the spat between Payal and Akash or Mani’s insecurities. Loving these chapters. We can identify with each character and their story.

    Liked by 2 people

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