Our car was running fast on the quiet road, but my thumping heart was ahead of it. I wished I could reach my destination with the wink of an eye and hug my darling daughter Rhea, but no force around me was able to understand the position of a helpless mother. I had to hold my restless heart forcefully from being bewildered. I was in a hurry to see my daughter, and was suppressing my feelings as it was the family rule.
The only way of comforting my heart was to walk down the memory lane…
“Mom, why should I get married without establishing myself”? Rhea reciprocated when my husband, Mr. Sampat talked about the proposal which seemed suitable to him regarding Rhea’s future.
“Ok…then make up your mind about one thing, either establish your career or your life”, Mr. Sampat replied firmly. Rhea looked with helplessness at me and I answered her in the same gesture. Rhea an exuberant and ambitious girl had to surrender as it was the family rule.
Rhea was now getting married in a well off family, and while the preparations were going on she almost forgot that she ever protested for her own identity. She was exploring a complete world of new feelings and waited to see her changed life beyond the curtains of destiny. I was the happiest person to see Rhea happy. She got married to Neil, a well-known businessman and was looking forward for a new, hilarious, challenging and independent life. My husband and I were delighted to see our daughter entering happily into the marriage institution.
In the car I was not getting a second of solace, my destination seemed to be millions of miles away from me, every other second I was rising and ebbing with the flow of the memories. After two months of marriage, Rhea curiously tried to peek behind the curtains of destiny and was shocked to see her dreams of self-identity demolishing like a sand castle. It was the world of men, all men people in the family found pride in being the benefactors. They provided everything to the females and children, no matter how hard was it to arrange, but they never welcomed their participation. Rhea’s mother in law and sisters in law were contented with their comfortable life, but as far as Rhea was concerned, she considered that in her life charity was being bestowed by the dictators in the form of relatives.
Having the credentials of masters in business management, she had a desire to be a helping hand in running the family business, but that desire was suppressed by the prejudiced men of her new family. Once she collected the courage to talk to her husband about her will but at that moment her desire was buried alive under the false image of family reputation, “in our family, women dress, spend, enjoy and look after the family…that’s it…women and men have their own zones and nobody enters each other’s zone strictly”, Neil continued sternly “the ladies in our family never go out to work, in fact we do not allow them to work in our company coz they are the big bosses of the family….So forget about it and try to live like other women in the family”.
Her darling husband had put yet another ban on her freedom very lovingly, “yesterday what were you wearing”! “Please never commit this fashion offence again, what’s the problem in following the advice of your designer and your stylist… We are the iconic family in the society and any down-market act will lead us to be looked down upon”.
Rhea never told me about the complexities in her married life but her best friend Sara with whom Rhea shared every secret opened up in front of me. My experience always stopped me from speaking openly about my daughter’s family life. I was very well aware of her husband’s principles and the family rules which were more rigid for women. I prayed for my daughter’s wellness and never spoke even to Mr. Sampat about her not so happy life in the new family. Rhea tried a lot to be materialistically successful wife, but she felt as if her existence was being annihilated. She tried a lot to live up to the expectations of her family, but was killing herself daily by forcing her conscience to do all which she never wanted to do.
Being a woman of substance, easily available materialistic happiness was not Rhea’s choice in fact she sought the life which was full of self-satisfaction. Now it was a cold war between the charitable luxuries and struggling identity. Within some time after marriage, she was made clear about what she had to do though not willingly.
Now I understood how depressed my daughter would have been at that time. My only child, for whom I had always desired happiness and prosperity was at the crossroads of her life full of confusion. Though I was always updated by Sara … was too helpless to do anything. Every time I hoped for positive news by Sara and kept myself normal during the meetings with Rhea and her family.
Rhea was unable to carry the burden of her depression, so she finally thought that she will have to be self-sufficient, nobody could help her better than herself. Sara’s message about Rhea’s decision comforted me instead and I really wanted Rhea to take a strong step without asking or telling me because I was more or less same like the other women in my daughter’s family. Deep down my heart I wanted Rhea to take some kind of initiative in the direction of her own happiness. Unfortunately, I could not discuss the matter with my daughter, therefore I could not even give her any good advice to be contented in her married life. Five days back there was news of Rhea’s accident at home, she was found unconscious down the steps of terrace, immediately she was taken to the hospital and was in coma since today. Today, in the morning my husband gave the news that Rhea is conscious now, but has been diagnosed of amnesia. I could touch the happiness just for few seconds and again was thrown down into deeper well of misery…amnesia…but a mother had a fading hope that her daughter will recognize her at least.
I could hear my thumping heart which was anticipating all kinds of fears. I thought that what will happen if Rhea’s husband did not co-operate with her condition…if she will not be normal like before….if she becomes alien for the whole family!
I was going to meet a stranger resembling my darling daughter. At last I reached my destination, but my legs were shivering. Mr sampat was quiet today and had said nothing. With a heavy heart I entered the room, Rhea’s husband, mother in law and Sara were there. Rhea was sitting on her bed with the family around, but she seemed to be sitting with strangers. I rushed towards Rhea in order to hug her, but I was shocked at her behavior. Rhea shrunk within herself and gave me a strange look. I had full confidence on my motherhood but that also failed. I couldn’t stop my tears, everyone else except Rhea comforted me. I was thinking about my daughter who desired for identity of individuality and now she couldn’t even answer her own name. Her doctor was the only person to whom she responded and that also like a naive. His verdict was unclear about Rhea, according to him she can get back to her normal stage anytime or it may take years.
” Doctor I want my wife to be perfectly normal as soon as possible, if you feel she can recover well in your hospital I would definitely allow her to be here till she recovers and please do not leave any chance untried “, asserted Rhea’s husband. I felt my daughter like a living statue. After having a small talk with everyone I placed my hand on Rhea’s shoulder, but she shrugged her shoulder immediately. With a heavy heart I looked at Rhea and gave a blunt look at my husband; that was all which I could do because saying something more was against the family rule. Sara’s eyes became numb, she had lost her best friend; for Rhea at this moment it was nothing, but for Sara it was almost like losing the whole world. I hugged Sara then hurriedly left the room and so the others did. All came out to leave but Sara remained there to spend some more time with her dear friend, who had turned into nothing.
Getting into the car I caught the sight of fresh fruits gift basket which I forgot to carry while going to see Rhea. Mr. Sampat stopped me from giving that to Rhea, but I impulsively rushed inside saying that let her not accept, but things for Rhea should definitely be given to her. My steps freezed at the door, I heard Rhea speaking, I put down the basket silently and tried to hear. ” Thanks doctor and Sara for being the most important characters in my real life drama…I was fully fed up of living like an educated artifact placed on the pedestal of our high-profile life; completing the existence of people there, especially my husband”. “He loves his false pride not me”. Rhea felt bitter.
Rhea was still going on, ” no matter my identity as a person is lost but as an individual I can do according to my will, there will be no more family rules now”. Rhea’s firm voice continued, ” If I had easily terminated the relationship it would have brought disgrace on my both the families, so I took this bold step”. Now I am no more Rhea, so no more expectations”. Rhea said sadly with a lump in her throat, “though I have no regrets for my doings I definitely feel deep sorry for my dear mom, but I cannot tell her even; she is very simple with clear heart.
She loves me, but she cannot oppose. I have dampen those feelings with my numbness. I will be happy with my new individuality, but my mom will always seek the return of her darling Rhea”. Rhea started sobbing.
“Rhea my love I have felt your return right now in my heart! My child go where ever you want, may you be always happy with your new identity”. Mumbling to myself I moved a little, rustling the dry leaves. Suddenly the door opened, I hurriedly hid myself behind the pillar.
It was Sara at the door, seeing a fruit basket there, she looked at Rhea with doubt…
“It was mom…she heard everything Sara”! Rhea gasped in reaction.
” Good for her and you”, retorted Sara.
“How”? Rhea asked with a confused gesture.
“Everyone’s heart will be in solace now”, said Sara with a secretly relaxed smile.
Controlling my expressions, I returned back and sat in the car. “I have always tried to live for Rhea, but now I will live for myself”, I told my husband with confidence.
I couldn’t judge Rhea’s decision, but I was sure that she had done justice to herself. The car was speeding down the road, and my heart was jumping with joy on the beginning of my daughter’s new life again.