Sudha opened the door and hugged her little bundle of joy. She was crying inconsolably. “What happened mumma” little Saloni asked innocently, while wiping Sudha’s tears. She looked at the beautiful face of her little girl and held her tightly again in her embrace.
“So do you want to play? Let’s go to the park” proposed Sudha, and Saloni hugged her excitedly. In the park, Saloni got busy in building sand castles and Sudha sat on a bench under a tree. She was staring into the blue open sky and was wondering about the cusp of situation she was into; she could neither leave this world, nor she could enter the next one. While she was lost in her reverie, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a frail body of a lady, gazing at her.
The lady must have been in her late sixties and gave a genial smile. “I am sorry, I couldn’t recognise you.” said sudha hesitantly.
“But I know you dear. I am Maumita Bagchi. I live in your society, on seventh floor of your building. At this age, I don’t expect myself to be very popular, so it’s ok if you don’t know me” replied old lady in a light-hearted tone.
“Why don’t you sit aunty?” Sudha offered and Mrs. Bagchi made herself comfortable.
“I know everything about your circumstances Sudha, from my maid. You know how the grapevine goes, right?” said Mrs. Bagchi in a low voice.
Sudha just lowered her hands and started to sob.
“I used to have a daughter of around your age. Had she been alive today, then she must have been like you. She was young, smart and full of dreams, but she wasn’t courageous enough. Like you, she also chose to accept the circumstances and made no effort to break free. She tolerated years of domestic violence silently and paid a heavy price for her folly. She paid it with her life” said a teary eyed Mrs. Bagchi.
Sudha raised her head and couldn’t understand why she was sharing dark secrets of her life with her.
“How old are you?” asked Mrs. Bagchi straight-forwardly.
“I will be 30 years old, this October.” replied Sudha.
“ If you are lucky enough to grow up to a ripe age of let’s say 80 years, then you have 50 more years. These years look like huge but actually they aren’t. On an average, 8 hours are spent in sleeping and another 8 hours in household chores every day. That leaves you with 8 hours of life everyday, which is one-third of a day. So, one-third of 50 years is roughly 17 years. So 17 years of life is really left. How do you want to spend it? Sulking? Crying? Or you want to take charge of your life? You need to decide how you want to spend these 17 years.” said Mrs. Bagchi passionately and prepared to stand up staggardly while holding her stick. She gave Sudha a pat on her head and left for her daily walk.
Sudha was immersed deep in thoughts. She was visibly perturbed by Mrs. Bagchi’s words.
Saloni came running and said “Let’s go back home mumma.”
“Let’s go and search for a new home dear” said Sudha decidedly.
Saloni was blank and Sudha was happy by being finally free. She was determined this time to take her maiden flight…..