Savitri let out a nervous laugh “You are joking right, playing a prank on me. Today is not April Fool’s Day.”
Her husband Shankar Rai looked at her with a straight calm face. “No Savi, I am not joking. This is the truth. I have decided to renounce all worldly pleasure, give up this life of luxuries and the mad rat race which only makes one more and more unhappy. I am going to Amma’s ashram in Kannur for good. I know you have not been a follower of Amma and have only accompanied me for bhajanas and pilgrimage at my insistence. But I request you to join me on this path of peace and content and see how beautiful life will be. Of course I cannot command you. In case you decide otherwise, be assured I have made all the arrangements for you to lead a tension free life. The house has been transferred to your name, there is a good amount of bank balance and the demat account has all the blue chip stocks which I have invested in over the years. Their value is almost 10 times the cost and you can travel the world”. He chuckled “I know you will never do that alone though, what fun would it be right”?
“In case this has come as a shock to you, please forgive me Savi for my intentions were always clear and though now that the time is up, I am voicing them directly- I have in the past through my words and actions made it amply clear that my path is going to lead towards spirituality. My train leaves at 5 in the morning Savi. You have been a great wife and doting mother to Abha and Ishaan. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Savi was in a state of shock. She opened her mouth like a fish but her voice wouldn’t come out.
Mrs Savitri Rai 55 wife of Shankar Rai retired bank manager. Housewife. Mother of 32 year old Ishaan who was settled in Geneva since 10 years and 28 year old Abha who was married and lived with in a joint family in Delhi.
Savitri got married at 22, the time when she has just stepped out of college and was eager to spread her wings and fly – her wings were clipped. Good girls marry soon and don’t cause worries to their parents. She was married off to Shankar Rai who was 10 years older to her. As taught by her mother, she immersed herself into household chores, cooking, paying special attention to her husband’s tastes and fulfilling his wishes. Ishaan and Abha were born, nothing changed. While Shankar continued to focus on his bank job, she busied herself in taking care of the kids. Time flew. The kids grew up into adults.
As Savitri spoke to her cousin Natasha who was going on a road trip with 2 friends, she couldn’t help but express how she wished she could see the world. She always had a fascination for travelling, meeting people from different cultures, savoring local cuisines, going to less explored places and soaking in the beauty of nature. However when the kids were young holidays meant a trip to Nana Nani’s house in Mangalore or Dada Dadi’s house in Bangalore. While it was exciting for the kids, it dint hold much interest for Savi. When the kids were teenagers they went to places like Rajasthan, Goa Thailand with their friends. Of course they dint invite their mother. Who takes Mom Dad for such holidays?
Shankar was never interested in travelling. His only trips were to religious places which was something Savi and the kids never enjoyed.
Natasha coaxed her to join them for the road trip, and Savi heartily agreed. She was as excited as a little child but a day before the trip Abha met with an accident and Savi cancelled the trip. It was a minor one but as a mother she was into a panic mode and no one suggested she continue with her trip as Abha was ok and only needed rest to recoup.
Not just her passion for travelling, Savi had given up so much of herself in the name of her family. As a mum she was always focused on cooking her children’s favorite dishes. When they went out to eat it was always the South Indian costal food which her husband loved or Mexican/Chinese/Italian which the kids loved.
Savi loved eating in Rajdhani- the typical Marwari food and she also loved north Indian vegetarian food. But the kids always frowned and she gave up her tastes smilingly.
Even when it came to watching movies it was never about her. No one liked the kind of movies she wanted to watch. Vidya Balan’s –Kahaani, Pink, Parched she only read about them, their reviews and waited for them to be telecast on Tata Sky to watch them. The thrill of watching them on a big screen was never known to her.
Savi was always so immersed in her family that she hardly had friends. Being a housewife, her friends were the neighbors and moms of kids her age who discussed homework, what’s for lunch and recipes and about their MIL. Though Savi was not well qualified and did not work, her thought process and likes were quite different from the other Stay at home moms she knew. Thus she remained a loner.
Today was exactly a month after Shankar had left. Savi had gotten over the initial shock, she cried a lot worried about what will happen to her. How will she live her life alone? Ishaan had asked her to come over but she knew it was a temporary thing. She was not interested in settling down in a foreign country. Abha couldn’t do much as she lived in a joint family. She took a few days off and came to stay with her mother. But she had to leave.
As she left she said something to her mother which brought about a paradigm shift in Savi’s attitude “Ma don’t mope over Dad. He is not dead. And well he will die one fine day right. We all will. You have 2 options Ma. Either go join him in the ashram and spend the rest of your life there which clearly you don’t want to as you are least interested in this thing. The other is live life for yourself, on your own terms ma. Do things you love to do but you couldn’t because of responsibilities or because you had no company. You have no company now as well Ma but go do them anyway and who knows you may discover the joy of doing things by yourself. I went on a solo trip last year, you know it right when things were rough between Vijay and me and I came back rejuvenated. You need to do this Ma. For yourself. Dad has left you enough money to buy Gucci and Prada – the entire store Ma. Spend it on what you like.
Do you know this is a blessing in disguise? If dad were here would you ever think of going on a trip or eating the food you love? Seize the moment ma. It’s all yours. You are 55, if not now, when Ma?”
She left her mom an envelope which was a voucher for a body spa at one of the famous international spa’s in the mall. You need to relax mom. For now don’t think much, go to the spa and enjoy the massage. This is a paid voucher ma, it has cost me quite a bit so please do use it, it’s only valid till tomorrow.”
With that she gave her mother a hug and left.
Savi was feeling better after her talk with Abha. “When did she grow up so much that she shows a path to her mother?” she mused as she got ready to go to the spa.
She took time to dress up, applied some lipstick and wore matching earrings, changed her handbag and looked at herself in the mirror longer than usual. When had she last taken time to dress up? It was always a harried affair where she slipped into a salwar, brushed her hair and ran.
The spa experience soothed her tired body and mind, as she relaxed, it gave her time to reflect on the conversation with Abha and see things in a new light. By the time she was done, she felt rejuvenated not just physically. Paying a handsome tip to the masseurs, she left.
There was a light spring in her step and a smile on her face, something in that smile said she was liberated. She went right into Rajdhani and ordered her favorite thali. As she relished her meal taking her own sweet time, savoring each dish to her heart’s content, oblivious of the curious stares of a few around who were surprised to see a woman eating by herself.
She then booked the premium ticket at PVR to watch Begum Jaan- a movie she was pining to watch and decided to go shopping later. She needed to buy herself some new skirts and plazzos from FabIndia.
As she was returning home in the evening, a day well spent, she hummed a song to herself. Abha called and was delighted to hear about her mother’s wonderful day. “Ma I had left a brochure under the spa envelope, go take a look you will love it. Thank me later Ma. Love you”
As Savi excitedly reached for the envelope and took out the brochure she saw it is for a Women’s exclusive travel club where they organized tours within India and abroad for women only.
She opened the laptop and wrote a mail to “Women On Wanderlust (WOW)”- Looking for details on European Tour.
Author’s Note: This was my entry for a contest where the writing cue was from the movie Frozen where , in which Elsa realizes that she is alone, but she is alone and free to do whatever she wants!