Chapter 283: Decoding Di

Friends I crave your indulgence (once again) as I feel compelled, almost driven to look at Di from her perspective.

So here goes – my reading of Di

In our collective obsession with ASR, his trauma at losing his mother, his anguish, his pain, his betrayal, nobody bothered with the impact of the very same trauma on Anjali, who was barely out of her teens, losing her parents, being thrown out of their home, with the additional baggage of a broken marriage and angsty maladjusted younger brother. I do believe that not only Arnav, but Di is also an equally traumatized character. The only difference perhaps is that he externalized his trauma while Di internalized it. She covered it all up by shutting her eyes and became a mother overnight. She couldn’t afford to break into pieces, she had a little brother to take care of; she knew she was his world that a single tear, a sign of weakness on her part would be his undoing. So she steeled herself, she built a fortress and stuffed the painful past in it and sealed it up good and proper and carried on with life as if the past didn’t exist (I would like to say Anjali put her faith in God, like Khushi did, but somehow it doesn’t ring true, despite the extremely devout Anjali we saw on screen. To me that a defense mechanism, a coping mechanism, actions of a God-fearing person, a person who would like to ‘bribe’ God to keep things under control, rather than one who has put all his faith and confidence in the will of the Almighty).

While Arnav became South Delhi’s most successful businessman, she gave him his sanity by not falling apart. Then came Shyam and Lavanya – her life’s purpose was within reach, a loving husband and a woman to care for her Chotte, she counted her blessings and rejoiced. Her cup of joy overflowed when she was with child. But that joy was marred by Chotte’s sudden marriage. It wasn’t like her Chotte, something was wrong; something didn’t fit right, but yet Anjali refused to see. Sheer habit and years of practice had taught her to overlook the unpleasant and see only what was acceptable – this was the only way she could maintain a calm unruffled serene front that was so necessary to keep Chotte happy and grounded.

But then, despite all efforts and resolution, her make-believe world came crashing down, she lost her child, killed by her own beloved husband – she still looked calm unruffled and serene as ever before – the mask had become part of her. Yet her outlook to the world changed slowly but irrevocably; now there was no need to pretend anymore for her Chotte was now in safe hands, he had found his khushi, he no longer needed her mothering, he would survive, with her or without her. She could now afford the luxury of breaking down, question herself, God, the world, its people. Her self-esteem, self-worth and self-image were at their lowest. At this point of time, work became her only solace her sanctuary – she forgot everything as she poured herself into to it. Here nothing mattered but the sheer joy of creating, watching something being made out of nothing, a thing of beauty, she picked herself up, bit by bit, piece by piece and in a process created a new Di, a slightly different Di, at least one with different goals, different ambitions. Di gave way to a professional par excellence, and she embraced this healing medicine for it offered an escape from the searing pain in her heart, the insistent babble of noises in her head.

Then Anya came into her life like a breath of fresh air, a symbol of hope, she was what Anjali had always imagined people to be – innocent of any duplicity. She allowed herself the luxury of trusting again and as old habits die hard, her innate trusting nature let her put down her guard with Kshitij as well. The fact that he was Anya’s father and Khushi’s brother helped. But kahin na kahin, in her state of once burnt twice shy, she did feel that Kshitij offered to marry her because of Anya, perhaps he even felt sorry for her or God forbid, was even lured by her millions? No doubt he had denied it but then Shyam had taught her a valuable indelible lesson that left a deep gash which had permanently affected her psyche. She was determined never to be so vulnerable ever again, to have an identity of her own, a person who was other than a wife, a sister a mother. This became an obsession – an obsession that took over from her continuous cycle of fasts and prayers, she made her office her place of worship. The kind of peace, the sense of purpose the only place where she could lose herself, where nothing mattered except her work – she reveled in her work, it was the panacea for all that dogged her emotionally fragile state – her dose of opium so to speak. The opium she was addicted to, the mere thought of leaving it, even reducing the dose was enough to bring a sense of impending doom, a sense of suffocation, like falling off a building without a safety net. Terrified, possessive and paranoid about her daily fix, it seemed to her that everything was conspiring to deprive her of that which gave her a high, a soaring euphoria like nothing could.

No not even motherhood.

If one looks dispassionately and critically (minus all the oxytocin), motherhood is largely a thankless endless task. And despite the numerous advertisements where impeccably groomed mothers emerge unscathed from their labors to smile glowingly with just a hint of a tear in her eyes (as remnants of the battlefield that was her body just a while ago) at the beautiful bundle of joy in her arms (ok this bit is true); the truth, we know, is far from it and so are the much touted joys of motherhood. Motherhood is largely a pain, following the pain of delivery there is sleepless endless nights of feeds and changes, cleaning up poop and vomit, flowing noses and heartstopping coughs, scrapped knees and black eyes, bloodied lips and torn buttons short skirts and late night dates, dismal report cards, disheartening parent-teacher-meetings, broken hearts and shattered dreams (Errr kuch galat keh diya kya? ).

Yet, almost insanely, throwing all rational thought out of the window, the very same woman who not so long ago swore on the delivery table undergoing the most excruciating pain in the most ignominious position possible ‘never again, never again’ comes back again (and sometimes again and again) to the labor room willingly, voluntarily, inexplicably (And we wonder why men cannot understand women – do we understand her?). It is this internal wiring, the relentless biological clock that makes women embrace the pain, knowing it is a pain, yet helpless against the force and call of Mother Nature to simply have a child, pain or euphoria be dammed.

Oopsss a ramble within a ramble—ee toh too much hui gawa!

Anyway to cut a disjointed incoherent ramble short, Di is caught between these two extremes, a ‘pain’ (albeit the sweetest and most irresistible ever eh?) that we are wired to strive for and an equally uncontrollable urge to strive and achieve some sort of self-worth and self-confidence that has been mercilessly crushed by the very same person whom she once considered no less than God himself.

On way back to GM, in the car, Anjali realized she had behaved quite badly. She was not only upset by Ankit’s recalcitrant behavior but the faintest hint of censure in Arnav eyes had cut her to the core. Khushi’s offer to keep Ankit had not helped either and she had immediately snapped and regretted it too just as quickly. But the damage had been done; feeling very close to tears she had turned on her heels and quickly left before she did actually burst into tears. Seeing that his mum was seriously annoyed, Ankit had hastily followed her to the waiting car. Anjali looked out of the window and bit her lip; she had again left without saying bye to Chotti. Guilt choked her and she struggled to contain her emotions.

“I am sorry Mamma,” Ankit took the blame upon himself and offered in a small voice.

The fragile control snapped and Anjali pulled her baby into her arms and hugged him as sobs choked her, “No baby, I am sorry, I am sorry baby,” she whispered incoherently.

Ankit was reassured and relieved, but only partially, “So did you get a gift for me too?” he asked – first things first.

Anjali laughed as her world miraculously righted itself, “Badmash! Sirf gift main interest hai! Hain na? Is liye sorry bola hai na?” She tickled him mercilessly and he squirmed helplessly, giggling and squealing, pleading for his gift.

Ankit and Anjali returned to GM in high spirits and best of friends just like before, – he was happy to have his mum for company, his new toy and only a bit disappointed at the punctured balloon in the boot.

If only adults were more reasonable and as easily manofied!

Unlike Arnav, Kshitij rarely raised his voice and in fact when he was annoyed, he had a tendency to retreat into his shell. But the ensuing silence was no less ominous or disturbing for it was a silence which screamed his annoyance, his displeasure. Dinner was a rather solemn affair for Ankit had had an early dinner and Anya as usual had dinner in her room. Anjali had attempted to break the silence but she soon gave up after a few monosyllabic replies.

Anjali sighed unhappily, she was still pulled in two ways but she knew where her priorities lay or rather should lie.

Anjali shook her head wryly at herself, she was a fool for even having a debate with herself on this topic. Ankit was very much like Chotte and often Anjali felt about 12 or 14 years of age while dealing with Ankit – perhaps which is why she frequently felt rebellious while dealing with him and felt like complaining to Ma, ‘dekho Chotte kya kar raha hai’.

Anjali’s heart melted as she looked at Ankit’s bright and excited face as he narrated the incidents at his Mama’s house as she tucked him in for the night. Each time he would stop to say, “Mamma how I wish you could have been there!” She sighed, and pulled him into her arms; it was no choice really, she was a fool for fighting the inevitable, besides children were different, some needed more emotional support than the others and Kshitij was right. She hadn’t realized how much Ankit missed her. And actually all these years, to tell the truth, he hadn’t missed his mother too much, for one it was only recently become a full time professional woman and she couldn’t have chosen a worse moment. Anya, Ankit’s surrogate mother and sheet anchor was busy with her studies. Losing both his mother and sister was too much for the lonely little boy. He was dangerously close to becoming another Chotte. Anjali really didn’t want another Chotte on her hands, or someone who would grow up to have angst against his mother for not being there when he needed her. She shook her head and bit her lip. Maybe later when Ankit was older she consoled herself.

In the morning, she made one more attempt to talk it out with Kshitij, not really expecting him to provide a solution or anything but just be a sounding board, maybe help her think things through more rationally or just offer a shoulder of support, maybe hug her, reassure her, “Kshitij could we talk about my job?” she was careful not to mention Ankit; last time he had gotten so angry at Ankit being called a ‘problem’ when she actually hadn’t meant anything of the sort, she had just made a casual remark without any deep thought into the connotations and implications, uff Khsitij bhi na, thought Anjali.

Khsitij stood up with a jerk and said stiffly, “I don’t want to talk about your job, it is entirely your decision…”

“Par Khsitij,” she put a hand on his shoulder, “Baat toh kar sakte hai na?” she murmured softly pleadingly.

He shook her off, “Mujhe koi baat nahi karni is baare main; In fact I apologize, I shouldn’t have raised the topic at all,” he said stiffly.

Anjali’s eyes filled with tears, “Why do you say that Khsitij? Why don’t you try to understand me a bit at least,” she pleaded.

Khsitij sighed, “I do understand Anjali, that is why I don’t want to force you into any decision and if we talk very likely I will coerce you in some way or the other,” he finally looked at her with agonized eyes, “Last time I talked about this topic, I sent Natasha to her death,” he walked out of the room, leaving Anjali shocked to the core.

***

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