* * *
The slight drizzle that started in the morning continued through the day. It had been quite some time since the hot summer gave way to the monsoon. We did learn in school that there are six seasons in a year, but why does there appear to be only one?
Seeing the rains continue their downpour unabated, even if only on television, and in faraway places, gave a certain sense of pleasure. Seeing the rain-filled clouds and the pleasant drizzle made me want to skip office for the day and curl up with a book in hand. Yet, there was a certain uneasiness nagging me, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
When I arrived home from work last evening, my mother was in an unusually grave mood. She explained that my brother was in town on some work and had gone to meet a friend of his and would be back home in time for dinner. He was the only sibling I had, yet I always found his presence a bit disturbing, whenever he came to visit.
He started it at dinner. “I’ve decided to get Chinni married this year”. Well, why be so concerned about getting your daughter, who has been well educated and working, married?
“The last time she came home, she brought along this Mahesh, who she claimed was a colleague. He stayed at our house for about two days, as a member of the family. We thought she would want, as is the trend these days, a “love marriage”, which is why we even stopped ourselves from asking about his caste and such. Now finally, when we ask her about the idea of getting married, she balks. She says right now is not when she wants to get married. This was a bit surprising to us, and when we asked her why she brought Mahesh to the house and introduced him to us, she just shrugged it off saying he was just a colleague and a good friend, nothing more.
Twenty- five years ago you did the same thing, letting go of a good proposal, giving lame excuses, and didn’t find a good match after that. Maybe now it’s her turn. A woman should be raised as a woman. To give them their freedom and education seem to get them out of control.” He directed his tirade at me, barely suppressed anger clear in his tone.
Hadn’t he always boasted, with pride, that he was raising his daughter, giving her complete freedom? Maybe that’s what is actually causing these angry outbursts. Or maybe he thinks he can direct his anger, reserved for someone else, at people back home. Misplaced anger, I tell you! Anyway, he left immediately after dinner.
And how long ago it was! I had completed my education and for fun, tried to get a job. Then I did get a central government job. Around that time, came a marriage proposal. But in the wish list that the people who would have been my in-laws had, one was that they wanted me to always work. This was something that I did not like.
To work or not to work should be my choice and I did not want my choice to be somebody else’s whim. Since I was very close to my father I presented my case to him, who also completely agreed with me, and that proposal never went any further. Maybe that was the reason my brother still resented me.
I made my way to the end of the street to catch a rickshaw. I was walking enjoying the amazing feeling of the slight drizzle on my face and let my worries slide away from me, much like the rain.
Aren’t people these days always going on and on about “Living in the present”? Even Navya, who lived upstairs, was telling me. Mindfulness! Apparently, they started meditation at her school, with the principal telling them that it would help them concentrate better on their studies.
She came down yesterday to get tutored in Math and was telling me all the goings-on at her school. She also mentioned how her friend, Rashmi, had an elder brother who had two mobile phones and wanted to give one to her. “Please don’t tell Mom”, she requested me.
“Didn’t you tell me that you have your board exams this year and that was why your parents didn’t buy you one so that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to your studies?” She was miffed at my words and sat down with a serious face. Well, how do you stop these kids from falling into such traps? You keep on telling them until they get it!
The road was filled with auto-rickshaws full of school kids. They were trying to peek around the curtains that were tied to prevent them from getting wet and laughing at the drivers’ admonishments.
This story was originally written in Telugu by Ms. Anuradha Nadella and published in ‘Eemata’ (Telugu monthly) in May 2020 edition.
Translated in English by Mr. Abhiram Kashyap Kompella, a graduate in Engineering.
* * *