Jane opened the door with her key. As she walked towards the sitting room, she heard sounds from John’s room. That idiot had again brought a girl home. Jane turned on the television to the maximum volume. Soon John came out of the room in a disheveled state with the fair and a voluptuous lass trailing behind him.
“Hey, didn’t hear you open the door. Meet my girlfriend Sandra. She is my colleague at the departmental store. Sandra, that’s my twin sister Jane.” Sandra gave a warm smile. Jane nodded curtly.
After John bade goodbye to Sandra, Jane asked, “It’s not even two months that we have moved here and you are already back to your philandering ways. I am really tired of this whole mess.”
“I like Sandra. I am hoping to make this work.” John assured Jane.
“I’ve heard this before. We have managed to escape twice but we might not be lucky the third time. Stop getting emotionally involved in relationships.” Jane was fuming. John shuddered at the recollection of the past incidents but he knew his heart was sold out to Sandra.
At the sound of a ringing doorbell, Tia looked at her wristwatch and cursed, “Which idiot wakes up at 11 am on a weekend?” Reluctantly, she got out of the bed, only to find her girlathon buddies outside. The group of nine women belonging to various age groups looked appalled. “Were you sleeping while we were completing our rounds for the day?” Tia helplessly looked at the enthusiastic bunch of women.
That night when her doctor boyfriend Sameer broke up for the third time in a row over her ridiculously lazy nature, Tia had returned to her apartment dead drunk. She stood in front of the mirror and looked at the tires of fat bursting out of her L-sized dress. In a fit of rage, she had vowed to get that revenge body like Katrina Kaif and make Sameer fall on his knees, begging her to come back.
In all her previous attempts related to fitness, she had never stuck to the regime beyond seven days. Her increasing cholesterol level had put Sameer on an alert making him personally handle her diet chart and fitness schedule. When Tia failed to stick to the instructions, all hell broke loose. But this time she was confident of her move. Her society had a fitness club and she had signed up for the upcoming girlathon-1k run which was basically marathon for amateur runners in the society.
Myra woke up to the sound of the alarm. The outside world was submerged in darkness but she had a mission to achieve. Changing into a t-shirt and track pants, she took out the newly purchased running shoes. As she left, her father smiled at her mother “Hadn’t I told you that the day Myra gets the right motivation, nothing can stop her?.”
Myra started her warm-up exercises in the society gym. At 5ft 3inches, her 85 kg frame had always invoked ridicule and laughter. It had started as a toddler when any random person would seek an opportunity to pull her chubby cheeks. As she grew up, the remarks changed to fat and ugly with people asking her to lose weight. Sarcastic statements and rude remarks related to her body had become a way of life. Despite an academic record that could put her peers to shame, she lost out on opportunities because of people’s mindset related to her overweight frame.
The cruelty and harshness of the world bothered her initially. Except for her parents, no one really understood how much it affected her. As Myra grew up, she was tired of one too many instances of body shaming. Using the veil of dry humor, she started retorting to those caustic remarks. A high-profile and well-paid job kept her busy. She had a couple of affairs in the past which mostly ended because of her weight. Her mother had tried various routes of an alliance but in vain.
The ambulance rushed through the empty lanes with the loud siren to keep signaling the emergency that its occupants were facing. Sanjay kept comforting his mother Renu, “You will be fine Mummy. Don’t worry. ” The unconscious frame of Renu in blood-soaked clothes was hardly in a condition to hear her son. His wife Gauri had been crying incessantly. Sitting beside the driver, Pema kept wondering about the fate of this family on vacation. She had been woken up by the call of a hotel staff Kodor who informed Pema about Renu’s fall.
The old lady had tumbled down the stairs and slipped into unconsciousness. Kodor had been manning the hotel reception at night though it was a rare occurrence at the hill station to see visitors check-in so late in the night. He immediately called Pema, the hotel manager who had brought the in-house doctor along. The doctor had suggested immediate admission to the nearby hospital though he had also expressed his doubts about the patients’ survival, considering the heavy blood loss and her age.
Pema was moved by the emotional state of Gauri. She must have loved Renu like her own mother, Pema thought. Rongapuri was a secluded hill station in North Bengal. The place ran on basic amenities. The Government hospital functioned despite minimum set-up and basic facilities. The nearest private hospital was a minimum of four hours journey in the hilly terrain and they had couldn’t afford to lose any more time.
I have lost count of the number of letters I have written to you for the past 7 years. All I know is that there are going to be still many more. If only you had left behind an address where I could have posted them, you would have known how much your absence has affected me.
I am sure you know that I have become a writer now. The idea was planted in my head by you through constant encouragement on every single piece of my writing (even though some really deserved to be trashed). Baba – the Maths Professor took credit for any progress in the science subjects while arts was majorly your domain of expertise.
I was in the second standard when I wrote an essay by myself. I don’t even remember the topic today. All I remember is the butter-laden hot paratha as a reward for my efforts. As I grew up, I stopped involving you in my projects and assigned tasks but I know you never stopped reading my Bengali and English notebooks. Sometimes you came back with suggestions for improvement and I felt angry with you for interfering. I hope you know that it was my teenage confused mind. Because today I realize that you were the reason for me to keep writing. I might have inherited the love of reading from Baba but my love for penning down of thoughts came from you.
Father John came out of the board meeting with a heavy heart. The meeting had proceeded as per expectations which meant they only had two months time to shift to the new premises. As he handed over the signed documents to the new director of the board Rishabh Kundra, John felt utterly helpless.
“Father, this is the best we can do. Two months should give you and the school committee members sufficient time to get the new premises ready.”
John made one more feeble attempt, “But Sir, this building was allotted for this school by your late mother Savitri Devi. While undertaking of philanthropic work through her NGO, she had realized that very few schools in the city were welcoming towards the kids of the downtrodden and lower middle class. She wanted her charity work to continue through the education of these young minds. In the last fifteen years, we have had so many bright minds passing out from here.”
Rishabh had recently returned to the country from U.S. after completing his management course. He glared at the fifty-six year old Principal of Savitri Devi Memorial School (SDMS) with annoyance.
“Listen Father, I am neither interested nor do I have any intention to carry forward my late mother’s charity. She lacked business acumen and was incapable of leading Kundra group of companies. I am a businessman whose sole interest is maximizing profits and expansion of business. Your school looks like a good proposition to me on paper. That’s because it takes care of the Kundra group’s corporate social responsibility. Precisely the reason why I am not shutting it down by withdrawing all forms of support. However it is a loss making proposition. So I have decided to tighten the finances allocated to running this school. Besides why do you want those lowly kids to enjoy so many facilities when they can’t even pay a single penny for them? It would rather do you good to accept that SDMS has to move to the old factory site that is to be designated as the new school building henceforth. I intend to turn this well spaced-out structure into a leading B-school. And that would be the end to any further discussion on this subject.” Rishabh gave a final nod as John left dejected.
Samar stood on the balcony smoking. He had given up cigarettes long back but today was different. He was both stressed and excited. Shikha had been noticing her husband for the past few days. Between the two of them he seemed the one most affected by Myra’s wedding. She decided to take a momentary break from the list of things to be completed before the rituals started in the evening.
“Samar, do you want tea?”
Samar turned around. His eyes were moist.
“How will she manage without us? And how will I stay without her in our house?”
“She’s getting married. You should be happy for our daughter. She would be broken if she knew what her father’s going through. Tirtha is a great guy. He is surely going to ensure that Myra stays happy and pampered.” Shikha held Samar’s hand.
With a grip on his emotions, Samar went out to attend to his fatherly duties in a while as Shikha continued with her instructions over the phone.
The wedding was planned as a private affair in Goa. The bride and groom had decided for a registered marriage. Neither believed in social customs and rituals. Only handpicked relatives from Myra and Tirtha’s extended families were invited. Few of their close friends had been called. They had thought of throwing a reception party afterwards. Royal grand resort was one of the few five-star resorts with the facility of a private beach. Today the beach area had been converted into a wedding venue.
Myra had chosen a baby pink gown while Tirtha picked up a blue Tuxedo suit. The guests had started arriving. Samar went inside his room to bring Shikha. The gorgeous red Mysore silk suited Shikha’s plump and dusky frame. She had chosen to wear her own wedding saree on the day their daughter stepped into a new life. Samar gently touched the wheel chair. Her eyes and smile still managed to make him fall in love. They hugged briefly before Samar wheeled Shikha out towards the venue.