Hip Hip Hurray!! #shortstory
“No but…but that’s not the case…ummm…see…but…hmmm…hmmm…Ok,” Tanaya didn’t want to argue further, for she knew it would be futile. Instead she walked out of her boss’s cabin grumpily.
“What happened?” inquired Naira, with her patent sly smile.
“Nothing,” Tanaya returned sternly, gave her a look and started walking towards the rest room.
“Uff…thank god this is empty…otherwise this office has no place to heave a sigh or two,” she whispered to herself. Then after few moments of balancing her internal anomaly, she walked over to the basin and started splashing water on her face. The water flowed away with the remains of her favourite make up from Bobby Brown.
“I don’t know why I have to spend so much on makeup, when all it does is emptying my pocket…” she rebuked herself and stared at her ghastly image on the mirror, for few seconds “Gosh, who is this? I need a break...I need a break...desperately.”
Tanaya has always been whimsical but fun. I have known her for years, we were school mates. While I was always the boring, nerdy type, she was the dude. Pretty girl with impressive eyes, dusky complexion and curly hair, and then her killer attitude, she was that undisputed teenage queen.
But this story is not just about us, we have another incredible in our kitty. Sreenanada, the bong beauty, who could never get enough of fish and rosogolla. And yes, I forgot to introduce myself, I am Ayesha, the freckled, specs wearing girl next door, and a doctor by profession.
“Ayesha?” Tanaya was impatient and her voice spoke more than she knew.
“Yes, how are you Tani?” I enquired gauging her perturbation.
“Leave all that, shall we meet tonight? Listen I have some goddamn work at office…so it’s your duty to contact Sree Ok? We will meet at our usual meeting place at 7 tonight…alright…alright?” after bombarding me with a random plan, she also demanded prompt reply.
“Tani…my mother-in-law is not in the city, I have to do the cooking after my OPD duty…its tough tonight” I replied after gathering humongous courage.
“Ayesha it’s urgent…don’t spoil the plan please. Why can’t your husband cook? Is there ‘mehendi’ on his hands?” she blurted out angrily.
“Tani…you know he won’t, Ok I will manage,” I knew I had to give in, Tanaya wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“Oh my sweets...that’s why I love you to the moon and back” reflected Tanaya overflowing with emotions.
“Ok...now stop it,” I grumbled back. My mind was bogged with too much. I had to attend to numerous patients, go home, make dinner, take a shower, dress up and then run to meet these crazy girls. “Too much work, Abhay may not be too pleased and yes...I will have to call Sree too” throwing my hands up in desperation, I resumed work.
Our favourite hideout was an American restaurant cum brewery. That chic eatery had both indoor and outdoor sitting arrangements. We always preferred sitting under the sky and unwinding.
That evening was beautiful. Since it was a working day, the crowd was lean and good. The musicians were playing some old English melodies and the tune travelled softly to the open expanse under the star-studded sky. The alluring breeze made the atmosphere tangibly amorous.
Tanaya was the first to reach and she grabbed our favourite corner seat. I was next, despite of the drudging I subjected myself to and as expected miss goody two shoes was the last to appear.
Dressed in messed up formals, smudged makeup, Tani looked jaded, but she managed a smile, when I approached her.
I had put myself into a pair of demins and a basic white T-shirt. It was the best I could do to look Ok, in the brewery ambiance without breaching the rules of my in-law’s place.
“Hey what’s up? You look exhausted…everything Ok?” I enquired.
“Nothing is OK Ayesha…I am 32 and I do nothing that pleases my soul. I work to satiate the whimsical demands of my boss, many a times completely aware, that what I am doing is meaningless…I am not in love, I don’t paint anymore or participate in dramatics…I think the last time I took a vacation was around 2 years ago, “she vomited her woes and visibly looked calmer.
“Hmmm…why don’t you contact him?” I proposed cautiously.
“C’mon he must have married the girl of his mommy’s choice and must be having…some…some ten kids,” she returned exasperated.
“Ten…that’s too much” I mocked.
“Yeah…whatever!” she smiled back.
“And by the way, you are part of such a big corporate and you couldn’t manage a boyfriend,” I winked.
“Look who’s talking! And what is this nonsense with your darling hubby, can’t he order food or make something on his own…huh?” she snarled.
“You will know when you get married, everything is not as easy. There are norms, expectations…” I couldn’t finish.
“Chauvinism, imposing etc. etc.” she added.
“It’s not like that, there are pros and cons,” I defended.
“No seriously, you are a doctor and probably the stress level that you endure at workplace is much more than what your hubby does…Ok…I understand the Indian standards of ‘bahu’ and all…but you can at least engage a cook. That frees your mom-in-law and you both…”she thought she had come up with a solution, but the reality was different.
“Leave me, and where is Sree?” I asked, looking at my watch.
“Talk of the devil and the devil is here” remarked Tanaya.
Dressed in a prim and proper lemon yellow summery dress, she smiled and waved at us from a distance. Her blue stilettos looked mesmerising with the attire.
“Why are you late?” I reprimanded her jokingly. “While the two of us look like ugly ducklings…what was the need for you to be this dressy, huh?”
“C’mon nerdy doc, I didn’t know that the two of you would come like this,” she winked.
“What you mean? I have come directly from office, after a long and rough day…OK?” Tani defended her devastated look voraciously. “And the nerdy doc has treated patients, then cooked for her sweetheart husband.”
“Hmmm, it wasn’t an easy day for me too,” Sree started with a long face.
“What happened?” I demanded in concern.
“Hmmm...What do I say? It’s the same old story. I think I will return back to Siliguri, Mumbai isn’t suiting me,” she reflected obliviously.
“But why? You are getting ad films, doing theatre and you were about to sign some short film with some renowned production house right?” Tanaya asked.
“Yes...I was...but...but they want favours in return...favours that I won’t render,” she declared in melancholy.
“God, this life sucks...I am completely exhausted, petrified and nauseated with corporate politics and you are struggling to make a name for yourself despite being a powerhouse of talent,” Tanaya orated so melodramatically, that Sree and I couldn’t help a laugh.
“You two are laughing? Outrageous...c’mon girls agree to my points...life sucks...” she insisted.
“If you think it does...it does and if you believe it’s beautiful...it will never suck” I preached.
“Please, shut up. We need a holiday!” Tanaya declared.
“What?” Sree and I panicked in unison.
“YES girls...we are going to Goa” she replied cunningly and we knew that there was no way to escape.
“Ayesha, it doesn’t work like this” Abhay insisted. “You can’t just come and declare that you and your girlfriends are going to Goa.”
“Abhay, we are married for three years. I haven’t asked much from you, have I? Your mother wanted me to share load in the kitchen, you wanted me to share load in the finances and your dad doesn’t like me wearing western clothes. I never said no to these...” I had tears, the pent up emotions had suddenly got a vent.
“Staying together demands compromise Ayesha...so don’t start counting the favours you have extended to me and my family,” he returned harshly.
“We married in love Abhay, but you never stand by me when your family members put unjust restrictions and expectations on me. Today I wanna ask you, am I not entitled to live seven days of my life the way I envisage? Do you really love me?” I resonated with my inner subdued, subjugated voice.
“If I have to testify my feelings by allowing you to go around with your spoilt friends...I am sorry,” he declared.
“Don’t you dare speak foul about them...and yes I don’t need your permission. I am an independent adult and I am going,” it was my first mutiny and a most needed one.
It was early morning when we met at Tanaya’s place. It was still dark, the breeze was sweet and we could feel the approach of the crimson. The birds had started chirping and the environment was slack, as if the empowered night queen was about to be dethroned and in her last few moments of supremacy, she gave a tough fight to luminance.
We had rented a car and hired a chauffeur for our trip, we didn’t want driving hassles, after all it was a trip for complete unwind.
“Mysterious girl wanna get close you,” Sreenanda started humming her favourite songs. She had such a sweet voice. I had also seen her on stage, she had commendable emoting skills. I hope she gets her due. I smiled at her lovingly, while she was engrossed in her own melodies.
“And Mrs...How did your Mr react to our impulsive plan?” Tanaya asked me, out of the blues. Probably she guessed that Abhay wouldn’t take it in good spirits.
“Huh? Ummm...he wasn’t too happy, I guess we didn’t give him enough time to assimilate” I tried to lighten the situation.
“But what exactly infuriated him?” she insisted. I looked out of the window, to witness the dawn and also avoid her incessant queries.
“Ayesh, what are you hiding?” she added. By then Sreenanda had stopped singing and focused on our conversation.
“Nothing...I can’t hide anything from the two of you,” probably this venting was required for me to unwind. “Abhay and his parents aren’t very open-minded. After gruelling through my working hours, I have to participate in a lot of household chores. The male members of his family are not expected or even allowed to share the load. They don’t even like domestic helps...at times its too demanding for my mind and body. Most of the nights I go to bed with a headache and wake up in the morning feeling drowsy! I am a medical literate; I know I am ruining my health,” I narrated gloomily.
“Then why don’t you protest?” Sreenanda asked emotionally.
“I have tried. But it doesn’t work...just leads to friction and weakens the already weak bonds,” I confessed.
“But there has to be a way out...right?” Tani asked thoughtfully.
“Girls, we have seven days to discuss the worries, shall we start off in a good note please?” I requested.
“As you wish mademoiselle,” they reverted in monotone.
The journey to follow was rapturous. We knew no bounds, gliding in happiness and floating in cloud 9. The woes took a back seat; it was just merriment and gratification to the core.
“Uhu...so finally we reached!” exclaimed Tanaya ecstatically.
Jumping off the car and after stretching ourselves for few seconds, the euphoric Goan air started waving the magic band and it struck us deliciously. Our resort was 2 minute walk from Mobor beach in South Goa. Hence the breeze was carrying the salty exultation of beach life.
“Ahhh...” I stretched my arms and freed the repressed clouds from my core. I felt lighter.
“No work, no boss, no bitching....I feel so myself...” exclaimed Tanaya.
“Yeah...no running around with portfolio...no expectations, no favours demanded...we really needed this, Tani...thanks a ton for forcing us,” Sreenanda expressed emotionally.
“I know you both so well,” Tanaya boasted in her signature, hilarious tone.
And we all giggled like school kids, the old days were back.
After a filling lunch at the resort, with some exotic sea food, we changed to colourful clothes matching the ambiance and headed towards the beach. Unlike many other beaches of North Goa, Mobor is sparkling clean, with white sand. The first glimpse of the water expanse, made our hearts skip a beat. We ran like little girls, sang aloud, played with sand and drenched our souls in free-spiritedness, as if no one was watching.
Time passed at a lightning speed, and the most waited vacation was nearing its end. It was our last night in Goa. The next morning, we would start off, and return back to where we had come from. It wouldn’t be a cake walk. I wasn’t even sure, if my family would welcome me with smiles, but I was strong and knew I could face them.
“Don’t feel like going back” heaved Tani drenched in melancholy.
“Yeah me too” Sree added. “How do you feel Ayesha? I just hope Abhay is good to you...after all he wasn’t all praises for our whimsical travel plans.”
“Hmmm...I know,” I reverted and looked away.
“What’s wrong?” inquired Tani. “The last seven days are worth every pain we take, but...but...Ayesha I have noticed a deep seated despondency, in your expressive eyes. Please tell us, trust me...we won’t judge you or your family...but you will feel lighter.”
“Tani, of course I know that. But there is nothing more to add. It’s just that Abhay and his family share divergent dogma, I am unable to relate to it at times...probably...I expected him to be different...but...but it’s OK Tani...it’s just that...I...I have taken a decision,” I hesitated revealing the fortitude I had accumulated in the last seven days, Tani and Sree waited impatiently for my revelation, “I have decided to voice my opinion and allow my vision to find wings to fly, oppressing my thoughts leads to suffocating my soul, so...so I want to keep my integrity intact...All these years, I was lost in an unknown oblivion, but these seven days of being myself, refurbished my zeal to live...and...also,” I wanted to deliberate more, but Tani interrupted.
“Girls, I have decided to quit my job,” this was abrupt; Sree and I exchanged astonished glances.
“Yeah...see I don’t have any liability, my parents are self sufficient and I haven’t exchanged any relationship vows...I think I must stop punishing myself and get back to my first love...painting. In fact in these days of leisure, I have decided to start a painting class for differently abled children,” she declared in her usual confidence.
“That’s really great...I mean there can be nothing better than this,” I had tear drops struggling to escape, but I refrained from my emotional outburst. Sree hugged Tani tight and added “I am with you...I can teach them dance, dramatics...what do you say?”
“Thanks Sree,” Tani pronounced hesitantly.
“No I thank you...this vacation was much more than leisure and recreation. It was finding our true selves back. I am so proud of both of you. Tani...Ayesha...even I am tired of running around with my portfolio and taking up roles just for money. Do you remember Rishabh? The guy who...ummm...who liked me?” she started hesitantly.
“Yes,” I assured and Tani nodded in affirmation.
“Both of us are planning to start a theatre group. He has good contacts. And...and ummm...I mean...it’s really odd, but I have realised that I like him,” she announced shyly.
“Now that’s news!” started Tani.
“Big news!” I added.
“C’mon guys...you both are so bad,” she smiled like a newlywed bride.
It is more than a month that we returned from Goa. I sat on an easy chair and enjoyed the beauty of the dusk from my balcony, when Abhay came and sat by me.
“You look beautiful,” he complimented.
“Thanks,” I reverted smilingly.
“You were right Ayesha...now that I am going to be a father...may be of a daughter...I understand the bias that you have faced in my house...but its better late than never,” and he held my hand compassionately just like the days, before marriage. His voice had the same love that I missed for long.
“I missed you Abhay...thanks for coming back.....”