27 September 2014

When I met a stranger.......

Clad in a rustic brown salwaar, yellow shawl fell on her shoulder like a U, face dry and pale, with a cluster of acnes, hair covered in oil, lips dark and lifeless, eyes big and deep, nose long and pierced, body short and slim, she sat there dunk in a bunch of files ..as usual...up until papers from one of her file flew right on to my table and floor .
Yes, she was my next desk colleague (when I was working in India in an accounting firm) ,who was almost absent for everyone. Neither anyone noticed her nor did she care. Some called her boring, some called her a total stranger.
However, that day I did notice her because she talked to me. She said slowly, "I am sorry, can I've that paper please?".
I was flabbergasted and at the same time very happy. Imagine sitting next to someone who I guess thought smiling was a sin and talking, an invitation to trouble .Left me gasping for some fresh air always. I even thought of changing the cubicle we were sharing .Moreover no one wanted to share space with her.
With a big grin on my face, I gave her all the papers and it was almost lunch time. I asked her to join me for lunch. She hesitated first, I insisted and then she agreed.
She was nervous as if she was on a blind date. I cracked the ice and began the chit chats which started as an interview. I was stunned that she was gradually opening up. She was just like any other girl I felt and she even smiled. Then came the biggest surprise, that she lived somewhere near by my house - not next door, few miles away. That means we took the same blue-cream colored bus to and fro (Office to home and vice versa).That also meant we started to spend lots of time together. I started to like her gradually .She was a fragile flower. Likewise, she started trusting me.
I told her how I was getting all the marriage proposals and how I wished I had a love marriage which my parents would never allow by all means .She interrupted for the first time. She said (or better to say,she narrated her story/her painful past), "I am a divorcee". "It was a love marriage to my childhood sweetheart, “R”.” “It was a dream come true for me.” “I was the happiest girl of this world then".
Everything was hale and hearty till the honeymoon. Later, everything started to fade.
R's parents were against the marriage initially as they were more financially sound than us. When R insisted, they put forward a high demand of dowry as a compromise. He saw a ray of hope.
"My parents didn't have that type of cash but were willing to go to any extent just to see me smile throughout my life without any regrets .I was their only daughter, apple of their eye." They agreed.
It was like a princess wedding. No one were left unsatisfied. Everyone burped, blessed and bid goodbye to the newly wedded couple.
Days passed and she became the target of her new so called mother and father (in-laws was a word she didn't believe in) .They taunted her for the remaining amount of dowry .R being the pampered and obedient only son, pretended he didn't hear. R consoled me saying they are old people and advised me to ignore it as well.
Months went by, years flew ..my life became harder and harder...I couldn't conceive...this time even R was on the brink of giving up on me ....I became the target of each and every member of this family....Everyone had their own reason to blame me directly or indirectly...I never felt this helpless. People started pouring advise unasked ...I silently obliged to all...R and I were in and out of the hospitals and also temples far and wide...Finally, my prayers were answered & I felt a miracle happened, I became pregnant ...When I thought that would make everyone happy & my life peaceful, it didn't!...R's parents fell short of one of the reason to prick me...the strongest of the lots !..
R sighed and was happy. Unfortunately, our hard earned happiness was short lived. I miscarried. The biggest blow was just waiting around the corner. The doctor said,” I would never become a mother again."
My life became topsy turvy! Or say my days became so!! My father who was otherwise up and healthy person, passed away .He had a silent heart attack. I couldn't tolerate it .I felt guilty. I felt he sacrificed his life to see me happy. My mother couldn't bear it as well. She remained bed-ridden. I tried to stay beside her as much as I can. But that didn't go will with R's parents and R himself. They got another reason to make my life more miserable.
Eventually, they allowed me to stay with my ailing mother FOREVER, R asked for a divorce. I agreed without any tears or words. I didn’t have any left anyways.
I didn't have a job to support my ailing mother. Relatives knew this could become a burden in many ways. So, they shunned us for good. We were alone and financially broke. The house was on collateral due to the dowry pay-off. I got my mother our house back using the money I got back after the divorce.
With the little remaining ,I was preparing for competitive exams and applying for any job that called for 0 experience, which was not many or paid nothing.
God felt pity for me, I got a job in a brand new Law firm because of my outstanding qualifications and achievements, which I almost thought were valueless or people from my past made me believe so.My self-esteem was jittery and fragile.However,now I didn’t have any option to remain so, I started to retrain and rebuild myself. My job paid me suffice enough for me and my mother to survive. I worked for two years until they changed their location which was too far away from my location. So,I started looking for another one and this time I started taking coaching for competitive examinations as well.
That's how I joined this accounting firm, XYZ with a better salary and perks. Next month I'll be leaving, I got appointed as an officer, SBI Probationary officer. YES, last week I got a selection in the Bank PO examination. She smiled, this time proudly.
I was also smiling and so happy for her. My doubts came true. Now I knew the reason why she became like this.
The man of her dreams who left her midway ,whom she trusted to be her life long partner ,his parents ,she believed to be her mother and father were after all IN-LAWS, new people/relatives around she accepted as her own were always strangers, the pressure she went through to calm all the societal norms, the measures she took to make everyone around her happy, peaceful and satisfying forgetting herself, the parent who did their best to make her smile and had a peace less death, the parent who couldn't stand it anymore fell helpless, She was indeed a broken soul. One who took breath but was lifeless, one who was hiding behind an ugly ,don't-see-me mask, hurt and afraid to trust again, love again, live again, and smile again.
When people are busy judging others, such people cannot exist. They are always a stranger. PERIOD.
I am happy that all my values and morals are today re-enforced because I learned, "Don't judge the book by the cover." I learned to lend an ear, give a smile, look for goodness, and be kinder than necessary.
I introduced her to one of my friend's cousin who lost his wife in an accident and had a year old daughter (gem of a person) ,G,they met, dated (yes dated) for a year and now she is married and she is a mother too and she is a living example that to be a mother, you don't necessarily need a womb ,but a heart filled with unconditional love !!
Today on the eve of "Navaratri, which is the victory of good over evil." I am proud to say that she is happily married ever after...She is smiling, giving love, receiving love, she is living her life to the fullest.
I am proud to say that, today she is my best friend, more like an elder sister I look up to. She is my inspiration in many ways.
All this happened,” When I met a stranger". !
Lesson re-imprinted on my heart - When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them.."..Let us be kinder than necessary...!
She is not a stranger anymore, I proudly introduce my best-est friend to you all,her name is Jeeva.(for privacy purpose,not her real name)
Yes, “Strangers can become best friends just as easy best friends can become strangers.”

Thanks for reading ,

P.S. (This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.)

UPDATE:Received a Blogadda badge...Yuhoooo..