by Chetna Sharma
Veronika was staring at the mirror. Ten years of marriage gave her two kids, big car, spacious apartment and …. Looking at the mirror she was trying hard to fill this gap. Suddenly, she was startled by the door- bell. Veronika quickly applied kajal and opened the door.
“Why are you late today, come in and quickly finish your work”, Veronika told her help.
While waiting for the chores to be finished she sat flipping the newspaper. Veronika would always try hard not to look at the job placement section but somehow her eyes fell on an advertisement.
“Proof reader wanted for a magazine on human rights. Women candidates would be given a preference.”
Without giving it a second thought she changed the page and said in a loud voice, “have you finished , I have to go”.
There was something in the advertisement that attracted Veronika. She could not stop and came back to the previous page. She tore that and kept the cutting in her purse.
As soon as the help left, Veronika locked the door and moved towards parking. Inside car, she put on some light music and took out the cutting.
“I would go to the market tomorrow, let me go and see the concerned person for this job”, she contemplated.
“What about Sameer? He would not like my taking up a job but he has never been concerned about my likes or dislikes. His focus is his job and position. My life, my feelings are not on his list of priorities.”
Grappling with these thoughts Veronika entered lift. The office was on the third floor.
“I have come here for the position of a proof reader”, she told the receptionist
“Madam, do you have an appointment”, the receptionist asked
“Not really, I read about the vacancy in newspaper,” Veronika said.
“Well it was last week but interviews are still happening”, receptionist said softly.
After a few minutes she directed Veronika towards a room on her right. She walked in and knocked on the door. To her utter surprise the editor was her friend from college.
“I don’t believe this, it’s you Viky”, she said in surprise
Vivek, the editor offered her a seat and both chatted about their college life.
“What about your family”, Veronika asked
“My magazine is my family for the moment”, Vivek said.
“So when are you joining?”
“As early as possible”, she said smilingly.
“My God, it is one o’clock, I have to go and pick up my younger one”.
Back home, after serving lunch to the kids she went to her room. She was happy but somewhere she knew that Sameer would be upset and it’s going to be tough for her. But she brushed away these thoughts, wore a bright saree, put on some make-up and waited for Sameer.
For a change, Sameer came home on time. “You are looking good, are we going out somewhere”, he said.
“No, I have a good news for you”, she said hugging him.
“Your good news sounds scary to me”, Sameer said
“Come on, it’s not what you think,” she said
“Then what”, he said sternly.
“I have a job offer and am joining next week”, Veronika said seriously
Veronika’s doubts were right; Sameer did not show any interest in her job. “Are you not happy, I have a job in hand,” Veronika repeated.
“What about kids”? Sameer asked
“Children are grown up, Milind is eight and Suyash is six. Their school offers day care facility after school and many parents
opt. We can also do the same”, she said.
“You know I have never liked this idea of your working. It’s a small world, people know me everywhere and my wife takes up a small job, no”, Sameer said rudely.
“Sameer, why don’t you understand I want to do something in life, kids, home is fine but I want to create my own space, identity in this world.”
“Sure, do it but not in my house,” he said
“Your house, I thought it was ours,” Veronika said with tears in her eyes.
“I pay 75,000 EMI, work day and night and you call it ours, out of this place if you don’t listen to me,” Sameer shouted.
Sameer’s words echoed in her ears. In her wildest dreams she could have never dreamt that this house which she felt was hers, actually had a cost and belonged only to her husband. She was probably a care taker of the house and kids. That night she could not sleep. She hid her face in the pillow and kept crying but Sameer was unmoved.
Next morning, Veronika followed her routine and sent the kids to school. Sameer was happy; he thought his words had worked.
“I hope you would send an email giving an excuse for not joining”, Sameer said as he ate his sand-witch.
“Why do you think I would send”, Veronika said angrily
“Oh, this job fever is still on. Did you not listen to me carefully dear, not in this house”, Sameer reiterated.
“Please understand Sameer, the editor is my college friend and I would request him for flexi-hours, so everything would work out well”, Veronika pleaded.
“I see, now I understand why you are so keen for the job,” Sameer gave her an ugly glance.
“Understand what”, Veronika asked
“You want to spend time with your old friend and call it job”.
“Stop it”, Veronika shouted at the top of her voice.
Their fight had taken an unpleasant turn. Sameer failed to understand Veronika’s desire to follow her interest and create individuality in this seemingly complex world. In his eyes he was a perfect husband who gave her kids and all the comforts of the world. He was unable to see what was missing in her life.
After Sameer left, Veronika locked herself in the bathroom, sat under the shower and started crying. “How could he think like this. Why can’t he understand that I want to do something in my life, it’s as simple as that”.
Veronika was confused and at the same time determined. She had decided to work.
A few days passed in silence. Except asking about children Sameer avoided talking to Veronika. She understood Sameer’s behaviour but was quiet.
Veronika’s date of joining was fast approaching. As Veronika was preparing bed she softly said, “next Monday am joining”.
“What is the rent of the apartment that you have taken”, Sameer asked with a laugh.
“Are you serious Sameer”?
“Yes, dear I am serious, not here.”
She had never thought that life would bring her to crossroads. Now, Veronika was at a point where she had to choose. If she chose job, she had to leave her family - if she chose family she had to forget herself.
Veronika knew that even if she didn’t pick up this job and drowned herself in family, Sameer wouldn’t care. His routine was most important for him and Veronika’s job didn’t fit into that. She was more of an object that helped him move tension free in this world.
Early morning Veronika packed her bag and left a note on Sameer’s laptop, “Goodbye, I choose myself”.