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A Daughter's Grief

Short Story by Naina Nair

She sat by the window engrossed in her thoughts. The chirping of the birds and the cool breeze did nothing to soothe her tense nerves. She had a worried expression on her face. Her worries had surmounted to a point of no return. “Maya” called out her mom.

Jhanvi found her daughter by the window as usual. What was it that was troubling Maya she wondered? She went and touched Maya and awakened her from her trance. “Hey mamma is it time for the evening tea?” asked Maya. Jhanvi nodded and went back to the living room where she had laid out tea and snacks on the table. Seeing Maya always engrossed in her thoughts troubled Jhanvi a lot. Was it anything that she had done? She had lovingly brought up her daughter all alone after Naresh had left her. Her thoughts flew to the past…

She was the only daughter of her parents and had always had her way. They had provided her with everything and she had a luxurious childhood. As she grew up life seemed wonderful with such supporting parents and a set of great friends. Then she had got this superb job. There she met Naresh. He was very handsome and charming. From the day he had joined the office she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was in a senior position and had been transferred from the head office in another state. She was also impressed by his work. He had made changes in the style of work being carried out and this had helped in the progress of the company. He would surely be recommended for promotion the way he was putting in effort for the company. But that was all beside the point. Jhanvi was getting impatient as she had been unable to gain attention from Naresh. She was so used to men falling for her that she was surprised when Naresh had not given her a second glance. He did give her additional responsibility on the work front and was very cordial to her. But then he behaved similarly to all other ladies in the office too.

But fate has its own twists. One evening a report which was to be submitted in the evening got delayed. Due to most of the staff being absent that day due to the heavy rains and water logging, the report couldn’t be completed. But Naresh had insisted that the report was due by evening and had to be submitted come what may. This had angered Jhanvi, but she had with the help of the miniscule staff managed to make the report. Naresh had asked her to stay back till the report was faxed and acknowledgement was received from the head office. Her colleagues had left after the completion of the report. After receiving the okay from the head office, Naresh came out to tell Jhanvi that she could leave. He was shocked to see her lying on the floor. She had fainted right there in the office. Due to the pressure of completing the report she had not had lunch and not eaten anything throughout the day. Naresh glanced at the watch and the time was 9 pm. With a tinge of guilt, he lifted her gently and placed her on his office settee. Then he called the doctor from the next building who revived her immediately. Jhanvi was shocked to see herself in a lying down position on the sofa in Naresh’s office and Naresh holding her hand. She felt like it was a dream. Finally Naresh had held her hand and maybe would propose her for marriage. And then her eyes focused on the doctor who proclaimed her to be perfectly all right and ready to go home. He had warned her of staying hungry again. Naresh had thanked the doctor and turned to Jhanvi. He had dropped her home and apologized for delaying her so much.

Next day Jhanvi had come to office with great dreams of her lover boy giving her special attention. But Naresh was his usual cordial self and not given her extra attention as she had hoped.

Naresh couldn’t stop thinking of Jhanvi. But he was not sure how to approach her. From the day he had joined he had felt a pull towards her. But he had controlled his feelings and always treated her like the rest of his staff. But yesterday when he had seen her unconscious, he had felt his heart strings being pulled. He had felt like enveloping his arms around her and protecting her for the entire lifetime. How he had held himself from holding her was something only he knew. He decided to approach her parents to ask for her hand in marriage.

Jhanvi had already told her mother of her fascination about her new boss. Her parents agreed for the match and Jhanvi and Naresh got married. Naresh had lost his parents 5 years ago in a car accident and had very few relatives who attended the wedding. Jhanvi was on cloud nine. That her dream would be fulfilled was something she had not expected.

She had stopped going to work and was happy being at home. Naresh was a very caring husband and soon she had good news up her sleeve. She was pregnant and all too excited about it. Her parents had supported her throughout the pregnancy and later on too after her delivery. She had delivered a baby girl within one year of her marriage. Naresh was very happy and spent all his free time with the baby.

He felt she was like was something wonderful and named her Maya. On her first birthday Maya lost her father. He died in a plane crash. Jhanvi had been shocked to the core and it had taken a long time for her to recover from her shock. Her beautiful daughter had been the reason she had lived and with determination she had joined the office back again. Her parents had helped her take care of Maya while she went to work.

Maya had grown into a beautiful girl and Jhanvi had seen to it that Maya had everything she wished for. Jhanvi had taken great pains to cover up for her lack of a father. But for the last few days she was seeing her daughter in a somber mood and that hurt her a lot.

Today she had decided she would ask Maya what was hurting her. Maya knew that her mom was worried about her silence and mood swings. She had planned to tell her mother about Anil today.

Anil was her colleague at the office.  She had liked him from the moment she had entered the office on the first day itself. Slowly they had interacted and become friends and later he had proposed marriage. She wanted to accept. She loved him a lot.  What about her mother? Anil had got a very good offer from abroad and he had plans to take her too with him after marriage. Then her mother would be alone. She did not want to leave her alone and go far away. So she had told him that she was not ready for marriage and refused his proposal. He had been heartbroken. He was to leave for his new job abroad in a month’s time. He had told her that if they marry immediately then he could put the papers for processing and they could both leave together. But she had no plans of leaving her mother. She was feeling very depressed and didn’t even feel like going to work. Meeting Anil everyday pained her heart. She knew it would be difficult for her to forget him. But how could she leave her mother who had sacrificed so much for her. Her mother had not re-married after her father’s death. She had managed without a life partner so that she could spend time with her daughter. Now how could she just forget all those sacrifices her mother had made and go away with Anil whom she loved dearly.

While sipping her tea, Maya told her mother in a low tone that she had met someone whom she loved and that she was not going to accept his proposal for marriage. Jhanvi was shocked and for a moment couldn’t speak a single word.

Her daughter had grown up to become a beautiful woman and she still considered her as a baby. She hadn’t realized that her baby was ready for marriage. And now sitting across her, her baby was speaking of love and marriage. She had grown so fast. But now she had taken a wrong decision by refusing to marry Anil. She had to do something immediately.

Next morning Jhanvi phoned Maya’s office and asked the operator to connect to Anil. She was feeling a bit nervous about how to start the conversation with Anil. But when Anil heard that she was Maya’s mother he was overwhelmed with joy. He wanted to meet her personally. She called him to the house the same afternoon because Maya would be at the office at that time. Anil arrived promptly at Jhanvi was very happy to see him. Anil was very handsome and a thorough gentleman. He reminded her of Naresh. She spoke to him about her life and about Maya and told him everything. He listened intently and then spoke. He said he loved Maya and wanted to marry her. He was ready to wait for her all his life. Jhanvi told him that she would convince Maya to marry him now so that he could take her along when he went abroad. Anil thanked her profusely for accepting and giving permission. But he too felt worried about Jhanvi and told her that it would be unfair on his part to take Maya away. But Jhanvi convinced him that life had to go on and that once they were settled she could join them there if need be. He was very happy and satisfied with the solution and left with a smile on his face.

Jhanvi sat beside the window peacefully. Her daughter had found a great man to lead her life with. She would lead a happy married life. Anil was a very nice man and she felt happy that her daughter would live with such a nice person. All her worries seemed to disappear after she met Anil. She would definitely feel lonely and lost after Maya left. But it would be selfish on her part to hold on to her. Maya needed to live her own life. She had to let her go. She had to convince Maya that she would not be lonely and for that she needed a way out. She phoned her friend Asha who worked for an NGO supporting single ladies. She decided to join the Ngo and do social service. She had to live her life with a different direction now. So far it had always been a life for Maya. Now she had to learn to live without her baby Maya. But she had her memories and Naresh would always be with her. He was her strength for all these years and would continue to be all her life. And she always had the choice of joining Maya and Anil in the US. But that was later. She had to first convince Maya and start preparations for a quick marriage. Her only daughter was getting married and she had hundreds of chores to do. She had hardly any time. She had to get busy…………