Magic, I have seen it happen
Pushpa has two daughters and has been married ten years. Her parents got her married off, while in her teens to the first person they could find-never bothering about her choices, or the character of the man they were giving her away to. She had had to leave her education midway while her future husband was even less literate than her. Her husband was a drunkard and beat her every night in front of the kids. Ten years had numbed her deepest senses and she was almost immune to this torture.
Pushpa works as a maid at Amina madam’s house. She enjoys her work as it takes her away, albeit for some part of the day, from her harsh reality. Her husband, apart from beating her without reason, takes away her earnings to splurge on his daily drinking and gambling. She still manages to save some for her children, for she has no needs of her own. Pushpa thinks whether it would be better to leave but is held back by her children and the pain of survival in society without a man. She believes in magic and is hoping for a miracle to relieve her of this situation.
Tears rolled down
Amina lives in a joint family with her in-laws, husband, her two year old daughter and husband’s younger unmarried brother. She had been expected to bear a child in the first year of her marriage. On failing to do so, she had been severely castigated. After many rounds to the doctors, she had finally become pregnant and delivered a girl. But her in-laws were not happy as they wanted only sons for their sons. The question that who would carry forward the family name had become a huge cross that Amina had to constantly carry.
Her daughter was growing up to be adorable but did not get any love from her paternal grandparents- something her innocent mind could never comprehend. Amina had spoken to her husband about this but he had advised her not to confront anyone at home lest the peace of the house be disturbed. She had recently started working part-time in a job her friend Sushma had arranged. But she was spending sleepless nights thinking about how her child would be treated at home, in her absence. Tears rolled down her eyes as she shuddered at this thought.
Sibling rivalry, how far can it go?
Priti was Amina’s boss. Amina admired Priti’s life. She had a complete family with a son and daughter. The few times she had interacted with Priti’s husband when he came to drop her, he had come across as very supportive and loving towards his wife and children. But in reality, Priti’s life was far less perfect. A few weeks back when Priti accidently checked her husband’s phone she realized that he was having an affair with her close friend. She is in a dilemma whether to confront him or let things be the way they are. Wasn’t it easier to pretend everything was ok than walk out and face life? She envied Sushma, her sister who got married into a rich business family recently.
Living in a Golden cage
Sushma is married into a prominent business family. Her greatest wish was to have a child but doctors have told her there is a remote chance that she will ever conceive. This has torn apart her relationship with her husband and the larger family. She had suggested adoption but was rebuffed summarily. She overheard talks in the house about a divorce and remarriage and could not believe her ears. Lost in this thought, she noticed Pushpa cleaning the house and wondered whether she would trade lives with her- the love of a child against money that couldn’t buy this simple joy.
And that’s just the beginning
Sushma, Priti and Amina have met for tea today. Pushpa is serving them in the garden. On the face of it, all four of them have a façade of happiness. Yet as the evening shadows fall, their hearts are fighting demons no one outside can know. Their thoughts are interrupted by the sight of a caterpillar trying to break free from its cocoon. As it struggles to liberate itself, all four ladies sigh visibly reflecting upon their own lives. Seen in one perspective, nature has given the caterpillar no tools to fight the layer around it. But the caterpillar does not give up still. It continues persevering until it emerges as a radiant butterfly soaring strongly into the wind.
At that moment, Sushma, Priti, Amina and Pushpa realize giving up without a fight can never change status quo. Metamorphosis into a butterfly requires struggle just as the finest steel is tempered in the hottest fire. They disperse, each one knowing the choice they have to make tonight.
This post is written for Storytellers BlogHop FEB 2021 hosted by talented writers – Ujjwal & MeenalSonal.
My short story incorporates 5 of the given prompts.