Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When the Mask becomes the face -4

Finally, Jalaja managed to land a job! The bonus was that she was posted in a bustling city far, far away from this hell hole. For the first time Jalaja felt a new sensation- maybe this was what they called “happiness”? She had no touchstone to compare, but she was content. Finally, she was an independent woman- well into her thirties - she was eager to join work. It had become so painful to ask for money for her bare necessities. Lately Jalaja had begun to feel resentment creep into her father’s words too- she was a reminder to him of failed responsibilities, he too chose to lay the blame of Jalaja’s crosses on her.

To Jalaja, her job was the gateway to freedom- an escape- the job by itself was not easy- it was at a call center, but she was prepared to hold onto it for sanity sake. The life in the metro was too unnerving- the world was different and she felt she belonged to another generation. Her age too made it difficult to learn new things, but she was determined..and she persevered. It was her only refuge. Initially, she lived with a couple of colleagues- as paying guests, but the younger girls' shoddy ways and habits irked her. She began to assume a matronly, domineering air and they were clearly uncomfortable. Jalaja realized that she was the odd one out and at the nearest opportunity she moved to an independent accommodation.

Jalaja tasted delicious freedom in her new “home”. She enjoyed keeping her home, doing up “her” home. The weekdays were hectic, and she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow. Though the days were monotonous, she relished her independence and freedom. But she dreaded the weekends. Loneliness threatened to gobble her up, and she had nowhere to go- Music and books helped only so much. The city outside would be freaking out and she would be languishing in solitude. She tried out several recipes, but how much could a single, lonely person eat? She did not feel like visiting her folks back at home either. They too had got used to her absence.

And now with her brother’s wedding next week she had no choice but to peek into that strange, unfriendly world once again. She dreaded the festivities, the meeting guests and relatives, the questions looming large in their eyes, but there was no way out. Some things just had to be done. It would be sheer torture to keep smiling, to laugh, to talk…it was like she had to visit another planet and she did not know the language- Jalaja was painfully conscious as to that every face would be looking askance- wondering how she was reacting to her brother’s wedding- Jalaja felt the need to smile wider, laugh louder…when actually she wanted to scream out… she felt she could “hear” the unspoken words of derision, sympathy, for the “poor,unwed" sister. But she had to play the game- She had to keep the Mask on- Tears could wait, atleast until she could crawl back to her haven..far far away from this mad din…


Uber Goober said...

Hey Ardra

Good bit of writing.

If I may add a small criticism, the marriage of the brother seemed to be the focus of the story, but somehow didnt materialize into anything significant .. something intentional?


Ardra said...

Thanx uber, and criticism welcome.
But Uberm, my main focus was Jalaja's mental turmoil wrt her own plight and people's reactions. She being the elder sister, unmarried- it had been causing her a lot of uncomfortable, painful feelings- The main thing that bothered me was while she could convey to me her fears, sorrows, anxieties, she assumed a "I care two hoots" stance in front of others, and people fell for her mask- they think she is arrogant and stern...

thanx uber