My cousin Sapna
by Anita Bhattacharjee
It was a lovely weather. I paused and turned back. The big trees hung in both sides of the roads showering the yellow leaves on the road below and the scene was more beautiful than usual. The evening was at its peak and I preferred to walk back home rather than taking a cab. I walked the few blocks and stopped at the shopping complex to purchase the daily groceries.
Six months in land and six months in water made all the difference. It was a rare life for a girl like me. My desire for unlimited wealth and the quest to search the unknown was everything I wanted in life. My dream job was awaiting me and I will board "The Princess" within a few days. I returned home and put the groceries in their respective places.
Like every other Indian girl, my mother was after my marriage. Last summer a weird looking guy came to see me along with his parents. I told him clearly that if you expect me to hold the pillar in the balcony every evening and wait for you to return home…you would be in for a shock. I am different from other girls…sea is my life and I cannot give up my life for any man in this world. As a result, my mother could hardly find a groom for me and it hardly made any difference to me.
But today things are different my father had passed away one year back and my mother had a last wish to get me settled happily. She had chosen a groom for me – the son of a retired army officer. The last trip to sea in The Princess was all I was left with. I cannot hurt my mother any longer and a strange unexpected future awaited me. Who was he – the guardian of my life, I hardly know him yet I had to accept him. Rules of this society is strange- a woman’s career, dreams and aspirations hardly matter. I cannot expect my mother or society to think differently. This had been followed through ages and we are also a part of this society.
My last trip in "The Princess" was mindblowing. I visited Europe and spent a wonderful evening. I sent lots of pictures to my cousin Ria in India and she was perhaps the only person who understood me.
Ria is an ordinary girl like my mother expected me to be. She had only one dream since childhood – to meet her prince charming and get settled. Her dream is fulfilled and she is happily settled in India.
I returned to India and my family welcomed me with pomp and splendour. The marriage took place amidst great joy. My mother was filled with happiness and at last her dream came true. I had given up my job, my home and made up my mind to settle down peacefully with this unknown man. I had hardly talked to him before marriage and hardly mattered as I was expected to marry him. There was a lot of wailing and crying as I made my way to the airport and we boarded the plane for Mumbai.
A Year Later at Mumbai:
My name is Ria and I am Sapna’s cousin. I am leading a peaceful life with my husband and daughter in Delhi. I heard about Sapna’s marriage, but hardly got the opportunity to meet her after marriage. Finally today I accompanied my husband to Mumbai on a business trip and called in to see Sapna. She was my idol since childhood days and I always wish I could lead a wonderful life like her. I rang the doorbell excitedly and a servant led me in. It was a huge bunglow and I felt happy to see my sister well settled. Her father in law welcome me and made me sit comfortably in the drawing room. A few minutes later a woman entered the room carrying a glass of water. She was dressed in a saree and covered her face. As she spoke I recognised her as my cousin Sapna. She sat beside me covering her face…she was beyond my imagination. I asked her about jiju and she led me to the adjoining room. A man sat on the floor with ink smeared all over his face. He looked at us with wild eyes. Food lay scattered on the floor.
Sapna led me back silently to the drawing room and I had no words to comfort her. Destiny is unpredictable and we cannot judge the ways of God. I made my way to the door and held my sister's hand for the last time. I walked out hurriedly from the house with tears in my eyes never to come back again. ***