As the train entered the station she picked up her suitcase and got ready to enter the compartment.Once inside and seated she looked around. hmm!! the usual scene-- trying to appear casual she took out a book and pretended to read but somehow she could never do that --she always wondered how could people bury themselves into books on train journeys ---that could be done at home too .On journeys .She loved striking a conversation or if not then she loved watching the scenery the changing geographical topography.
But today .
No interesting companions ---no clear view of the outside topography either, courtsey tainted glasses of the AC compartment.looked as if she too would have to take the help of a book ---she took out a sandwich ( oh yes eating was another thing she loved while travelling) then an aloo ka paratha ummm!! oh!! there was cake too couldn't resist a slice , and why should'nt she try that lovely kaju katli all packed lovingly by her daughter??---but no! she felt embarassed, what would the other passengers think and she put back the hamper.
She stopped short and looked up from the basket ,someone familar ???it couldn't be her !!! the other person too stopped and glanced at her: what a coincidence ???
A hesitaant smile on her lips was reciprocated by one from the other lady.
and as she shifted a little asking her to sit down the lady immediately obliged and most willingly too ---that meant she was travelling alone .
They started talking about the past so many years.They had been school friends and Sarita was the biggest flirt between the two poles she had joined school when they were in the 9th std and had immediately become friends with the whole gang ---the teachers were very worried about this and would call all the girls individually telling each of them to keep away from her .But no one paid heed as this new lively girl introduced them all to a new world--- their usual birthday parties were now being replaced by visits to restraunts and movies; whereas her parties were thrown in the officers mess her dad being an group capt and nearly all those young sqn ldrs & flt liutenannts had become objects of admiration for the starry eyed girls; all eligible harmless bachelors who knew there limitations well because all these girls were the group capt's daughter,s friends .
Life was fun and almost all were sure that Sarita would land up with one of the officers. they all had their bets on the dashing young Flt Lt Jaitley.The cynosuer of all female eyes but he had eyes only for Sarita not because she was pretty or something but because he knew how helpful being her dad's son-in-law would be .
That left all the other girls to either concentrate on their studies or look for greener pastures outside the air force officers mess, in fact they even lost interest in those parties; what was the use when they knew that the numero uno was not to be their catch and no one wanted to settle with the runners ups.
Their respective catches had to be the numero unos of their chosen fields.
Schooling over , the whole gang disintegrated, going away for higher studies .Gradually they lost contact and no one knew what happened to the others .Even otherwise girl are not like boys keeping contacts alive they believe in making a house and friends where ever destiny takes them and that is their survival instinct.
That is what makes them make their husbands abode their kingdom.0
Anyway Madhu showed Sarita her family photographs and very humbly accepted the compliments but when Sarita brought out her's with a wicked smile Madhu was shocked to see her standing next to Mr Bhatnagar, (her dads college friend) ,as his wife with two grown up sons(obviously from his first marriage) and one teenaged daughter "SARITA!!! this is uncle Bhatnagar with Arnab and Aatish !!" "And this is Akanksha OUR daughter" .---quipped in Sarita .
"But how I mean what happened to Flt Lt Jaitely ??I was expecting him here beside you ".
"hahah he was ok for the parties but for life I wanted someone not only more mature but more secure too --and who else than Mr Bhatnagar ---though I did have to fight many battles to marry him worst were dad and mom they just couldn't bear to tolerate all this "
"naturally ---no parent can tolerate --their daughter marrying her father's batchmate
"and why not"?
"there are so many issues involved --the age difference ,being the most important But why did you do this ??"was it because you had always adored him secretly and had a crush on him since the time you were a teenager?? and they both fell silent .
Sarita couldn't tolerate to see that look of disdain and disgust on Madhu's face and she clutched her hands" Madhu you think I will ever do anything foolish or wrong??"
"then how did you land up here ?"
"After Mrs Bhatnagar's death one day mom sent me to their house to see if everything was ok and if they needed some help what I saw just shook me and I spent sleepless nights thinking about the helplessness faced by them I saw what a mess they were in ;he was down with fever the sons had no one to look after them servants were irresponsible and I just couldn't bear to see all that(it sort of rekindled my old sentiments ) .The only way I thought I could help them was by marrying him because that is the only relationship which allows a woman to look after a man even today in this 21st century .After I announced my intentions to my family there was mayhem ,the rest of the social circle too was against it all. Everyone including Mr Bhatnagar tried to make me change my decision BUT you know me I who could influence all you people in school and who gave a twopence to all those rebukes by the teachers just put my foot down ---I went on a hungerstrike fast unto death --satyagrah --and everyone had to concede.well I won the battle and became Mrs Bhatnagar."
"and what happened to Jaiteley ---how did he take it ---must have been heart broken "
"HAHA you really think so he married Group capt Gupta's daughter her dad was 2nd in hierarchy and so was she ;as it is everyone knew there was nothing between Jaiteley and me' He' was just an eligible batchelor for me and 'I' a good catch for him and that was all he wanted ."
"but are you happy Sarita ?
"Mads -- --you want me to say those typical cliche dialogues like !!he is a very good hubby very considerate and the children are so loving etc etc???
of course I am HAPPY --THEY ARE MY CHOICE ,----- " I FOUGHT SOCIETY TO BE WITH THEM ".I am so happy in my present life that even mom and dad are happy now.
---though one thing is so ironical ----people just dont think twice before pushing and forcing their daughters in marriage to widowers and men double their age but here, when I wanted to marry someone like that out of my own choice they were all against it and I was a target of criticism too .
why wont they let a woman decide for herself ever .....