The seven-year-old was finally declared dead after a long battle with pneumonia. The mother of the child, who was sitting in the waiting room, was subsequently informed about the passing away of her only child. The nurses covered the body of the dead child with a thin sheet of white cloth only to show the child’s little face.
“Today, I have been relieved of all my responsibilities. Now, I shall probably have the opportunity of coming closer to finding my real self. God bless you, my child, one last time. I hope I did justice to you during our time together. May you be happy wherever you are,” the mother exclaimed with an unusual calm on her face. It probably felt like the calm before a storm.
It was a cold winter evening, when Leena was all set to elope with the man of her dreams. Anish and Leena were neighbourhood friends, who eventually fell in love before deciding to get married. Leena went against her parents’ wishes to marry Anish. A few years into their marriage, Anish was involved in an extramarital affair with his colleague, which left no stone unturned to tear his wife’s world apart. He soon started to stay away from home and his wife and child for long periods. Everybody around the couple, including Leena’s parents, had learnt about Anish’s relationship with another woman. Leena, whose parents’ had permanently closed doors on her, was rendered helpless and had nowhere to go. Leena often regretted her decision to marry Anish and snap ties with her kin until one day, when she decided to walk out on him.
The beaches of Goa have a unique way of talking into your sorrow. Every wave brings a new hope that tranquilizes your worries about the future. Leena had shifted to Goa soon after she lost her child. While the mornings and afternoons were spent attending theatre classes, Leena would end her day by spending long hours at the beach trying to adjust to her new-found freedom. After forsaking her identity all her life to be someone’s daughter, wife and mother, Leena was left grappling with a huge void, when the focus of her life had shifted to her own existence. Sometimes the things one has long-awaited are often the ones that create maximum turbulence to enter your life. Having constantly lived on the edge, while fearing the loss of a loved one, a life devoid of pain, uncertainty and suffering was something Leena could only dream of ever since the time she walked out of her parents’ home.
As days started passing by, Leena’s past was starting to become a distant memory. Although there were times when Leena would have sudden bouts of loneliness, there was never a moment when she felt compelled to look back. Going on the stage and getting into the skin of a character transported Leena into a world which was a far cry from the world that had presented Leena with only misery and rejection. She started channeling her agony and sorrow to add depth and nuance to her acting. The opportunity to revel in the pleasure of being someone else, albeit for a brief period of time, had always been fascinating for Leena since she was a child. Little did she know, back then, that her own life would be reduced to short stints of drama.
It was a winter evening in Goa, and all of Leena’s theatre friends had gathered for a house party. It had been ages since Leena adorned her body with carefully selected drapes and accessories. She had forgotten what it felt like to socialize. That evening, Leena sported a pink lace dress with a black shrug to complement her black stilettos. She had braided her hair on one side and ensured that she carried a handbag, which went with what she was wearing. As the evening proceeded, Leena chose to let loose in the company of booze. The trauma of her past had haunted her enough to yearn for a celebration of what lay ahead. “I found my first family when I was born. I was very happy living in my small world with the people I most loved. Things soon changed, when I started dating Anish, my ex-husband. My family, who was against my relationship with him, chose to disown me the day I eloped with him. I had probably assumed that having my knight in a shining armour by my side would bring an end to all my life’s miseries. Breaking ties with my first family, whom I had refused to share with anybody, at once, only meant that the brightest part of my life was erased. I lost my second family the day my child departed from this world. The child that I had brought into this world gave me something very special while leaving – freedom to find my own self, which was somewhere lost, while being a daughter, wife and mother. The family that I have found, here, has known me as a woman who is on a mission to find her real identity. Today, I can proudly say that I have found a family that has accepted me by choice. I hope that we always stay like this. Cheers to my you all,” exclaimed an emotionally charged Leena before all her friends engulfed her in a warm hug.
Months had soon turned into years. Leena, who was bestowed with the prestigious Best Student award, had earned an entry into a leading theatre group, which performed plays with a social message across the country. Before she knew it, Leena was traversing the country for numerous shows every year. Her past was now visibly distant. The agony of her betrayals had drowned deep in the roles that she played. Or that’s what she portrayed. She was slowly getting accustomed to a life, which demanded bringing the best out of her. She was now living for herself and had slowly started to find what truly held the power to make her happy. And it wasn’t really all that much about finding success and becoming independent as it was about learning to find happiness without the fear of losing it that made Leena value her worth. She had become a hero in her own eyes, a far cry from resorting to a man in her life to derive strength from.
It had been 11 years since the time Leena had last met her parents. “Maybe my child left me as a punishment for my decision to choose my husband over my parents. Maybe I was not deserving to be a mother. Maybe my child would have been alive, today, had it not been for what I did to my parents. I have sinned. I couldn’t do justice to my child,” thought Leena to herself after suddenly waking up with dizziness. Before she could know, Leena started hallucinating and began talking to her dead child, whom she thought to be alive and sleeping beside her. Leena, who had a play lined up for the afternoon, got up and stormed out of her room. She started walking aimlessly. As her feet started pacing, her past and present, both, flashed in front of her eyes. Here was a daughter, who was serving a lifetime of separation from her parents for committing a grave sin. She had dared to make a choice of staying with a partner she had fantasized growing old with. A wife had been ruthlessly betrayed for the love of another woman. The wife’s fault was that she had worshipped a future of seeing sunsets, while clutching the hand of her better half and find all the peace in her small world. There was a mother, whose kid went out of her sight and never came back. And then, there was Leena, a popular theatre actor, who had won several awards and accolades for her work.
While Leena continued to head aimlessly on the streets, a child, who was playing in the park with her parents, looked towards Leena and exclaimed, “Look ma, isn’t she the woman who stopped her husband from drowning their baby girl?” The mother smiled at her daughter and replied, “Yes, she was a beautiful and heroic mother in that play.” The girl waved at Leena with excitement and flashed a wide smile at her. Leena, who was standing right across from where the girl was, had seen her own child in that precious girl. She soon ran towards the child and hugged her before beginning to weep.She tightly clutched the child to her chest and cried uncontrollably. It seemed like it was in that warm embrace that Leena had found the consolation for her life’s biggest regrets and worst misses.