Guest Post by Sneha Khalate
It was a beautiful winter morning, a beam of warm sunlight was peeping through Ananya’s bedroom window. She woke up with a smile on her face.
Ananya was the single child of Mr. And Mrs. Divakar. A typical upper middle class household, father and mother both were Doctors and were working in prestigious hospital in the city. She was brought up with lots of love and was always protected being a single child.
Today was an important day of her life as she was entering into corporate world, it was her first day at office after MBA. She was very excited and nervous at the same time.
As she entered the office campus, she was mesmerized by the grandness of the entire area. It was a huge building surrounded by lush greenery. She entered the main lobby and she saw a girl who clumsily dropped all her documents on the floor, Ananya quickly went ahead to help her. That girl went on to become Ananya’s best friend – ‘Rashmi’.
Ananya slowly got used to the office and started liking the corporate world and her new friends in the office. After a few months, Rashmi introduced her to a colleague Siddhant who had just gotten transferred from Bangalore. Siddhant had already created quite a stir in girls circle because of his good looks and gentlemanly attitude. Somehow Ananya wasn’t impressed, she thought it was all a drama just to woo girls. Rashmi wanted Ananya to be polite and a bit friendly with Siddhant. She tried two of her friends to be friends and not foes but all in vain!
But destiny has its plan for it, it happened when their Business Unit had a weekend outing for a day nearby. Ananya showed no interest in talking to Siddhant even when he made futile attempts of getting her attention. After mundane activities like breakfast, introduction round, it was time for some fun and team bonding activities. Ananya and Siddhant were chosen to be in the same team. The task was, they had to dress up a team member using only newspaper in 5 minutes. As the task began, Ananya was surprised to see Siddhant’s creativity and the enthusiasm he was handling the task with. She got impressed and swung into action and boy, what a fantastic team they made. Time was running out and adrenaline was rushing through them. In no time, they both were helping each other and they realized that both had amazing understanding with each other. This teamwork not only help them to win the game but it also brought them closer. Cupid had already struck and a seed of love had been sowed!
It was a different phase for Ananya as she was in love! It had never happened before. Her world was revolving around Siddhant. None of them had confessed their feelings to each other yet. Suddenly Siddhant started dropping by at the lunch table, sometimes in coffee break. Ananya was finding new excuses to visit Riya whose cubicle was just opposite Siddhant’s.
While this romance was flourishing, one day when they all were having lunch, someone congratulated Siddhant. Clearly he was not at all happy about the thing he was being congratulated for. Ananya missed a heartbeat, she sensed something is wrong. When everyone around the table started asking him questions, he broke the news that he was offered an onsite opportunity for 6 months. He was looking at Ananya and they both felt the pain of separation.
Next day Siddhant called up Ananya at coffee shop near campus and he poured his heart out! He confessed his love for her, he didn’t want to leave for Chicago, without telling Ananya about his feelings. She was happy and sad at the same time. Siddhant flew next week and their long distance relationship started. Ananya felt lonely in the office despite she was surrounded with her friends. Rashmi was by her side as she knew everything about them. Ananya was sad and as if it was not enough she soon discovered that her parents are fighting and something was going on between them. She was aghast, initially they were trying to hide it from her but very soon they started fighting in front of her. She tried to interfere but they asked her to accept it as a harsh reality and tried to make her understand that it’s not a big deal and it will be over soon. But she knew it was not getting over anytime soon.
All these situations started overpowering her and she became a workaholic. She started spending more time in office than home. She had dark circles around her eyes, her smile was gone. Even talking to Siddhant was not helping her.
Suddenly a fairy tale life had turned tragic and she started hating her life.
Few months went by, one fine day she got a call from her childhood friend Sakshi. Sakshi had come to India for few weeks and wanted to meet Ananya. Sakshi was based in Chicago, after her masters she was working in a reputed firm there.
Ananya decided not to visit Sakshi, she had lost her interest in all these things. When Rashmi got to know about it, she took Ananya to visit Sakshi even though Rashmi didn’t know Sakshi well.
Rashmi was glad she did it, because after some time all 3 girls were talking non-stop. Rashmi and Sakshi hit it off instantly. After so many days, Rashmi felt Ananya was enjoying, she was happy to see Ananya smiling after so long. Amidst all the craziness, Sakshi was showing some wicked snaps from her office party last month in Chicago and Ananya saw something, she froze for a moment and started shaking. Sakshi, poor thing didn’t understand what happened to Ananya. Rashmi snatched the phone from Ananya’s hand and she saw it too. In the background was Siddhant, he was not alone, he was kissing some girl.
Truth has a very strange way of coming out, when you least expect it. It hurts the most.
Ananya clearly remembered that Siddhant had canceled their every Friday call that day saying he was not well and his roommates had some friends coming over their place and with the loud music in the background, they won’t be able to talk. Ananya felt very bad about his health and that he has to manage all by himself even in the sickness.
She never knew what was going on in real.
She just couldn’t believe that Siddhant will do something like this. She called him that night and confronted him, to her surprise he didn’t deny it.
His words were still ringing in her ear – ‘Don’t be a child Ananya! These things happen in life. I really love Stella, she is a wonderful girl. You and I are very different persons, we won’t be happy for long. With you it was just an infatuation but with Stella, this is something different, magical! I was going to tell you very soon. Please understand and if possible try to move on as I already have!’
Ananya went numb, she couldn’t hear another word. She never imagined that Siddhant will react so coldly. Her world came crashing down as Siddhant was the only good thing she had so far in her life.
This break up left her wounded and disheartened. She was just passing the days and living life mechanically. Her life had turned upside down. She felt suffocated, her office, canteen reminded her of Siddhant. There was no one at home with whom she could discuss because her parents were already going through a bad phase of their marriage. Ananya just wanted to run away from all these. Very soon she got the opportunity, she was offered an onsite position in New York.
She grabbed it as if it was her last chance to get out of that environment.
Ananya flew to New York in few weeks. She had made arrangements of her accommodation from India only. It was a shared apartment. Her office was a bit far from the apartment but she preferred it because there were a few Indian girls staying in. The girls were friendly. She had to travel few blocks to catch the train to her office. First few days was a struggle as everything was new for her but later on she got used to travel. Her office colleagues were also cordial. She was good at her work so within few days everyone came to know her for her good work.
Slowly she started feeling comfortable amidst all strangers. There was no one who could see how sad she was from inside. She had buried her sorrows deep inside and she would not allow anyone to reach there.
She started liking her routine, the train journey, morning coffee, solo afternoon lunch expeditions. She was getting absorbed into the crowd.
But the comfort or small piece of happiness she had found was proven temporary. After a couple of days she got a call from her mother, her dad had met with an accident. She so wanted to see her dad and travel back as soon as possible but the work commitments were rigid and she couldn’t go back. Ananya was crying on her way to office. She felt so helpless. She was waiting for her train at the station, when suddenly a homeless woman came out of nowhere and hugged her. She took Ananya completely by surprise, she smiled and said, ‘Don’t worry my child, everything will be fine. God bless you. Have faith!’ That woman disappeared into the crowd. Ananya couldn’t grasp what just happened but she felt so much better. She later thought it was very evident from her face that something was wrong but she was glad, someone noticed. The hug and words gave so much comfort to her. That small dose of unexpected kindness gave her strength to deal with the days ahead. By late night, she got some good news that her dad would make it through and he soon will be operated. As days were passing, her dad was making good recovery and this fatal accident did one good thing, her mom and dad were getting together again. Sometimes the bond gets strengthen in the times of hardships. She started realizing that things are falling into place, it was like a distant dream for her. She had no expectations from life.
She had hated her life, thought she had a curse and it would go on forever.
Soon she started realizing that everyone around is going through some kind of battle every day. The way you face the battle, will result in how your life will be. She started noticing so many brave people around her, earlier she was so engrossed into self-pity she didn’t notice people, their stories around her.
One day she was sitting beside Daisy her colleague, she noticed Daisy had a big bandage around upper part of ankle. That seemed worrisome but she held back herself from asking anything about it. Later she overheard some of her colleagues discussing about Daisy’s radiation and her being treated for breast cancer. Ananya was very surprised to hear this because Daisy was a full of life soul, she was always happy and cheerful. No one could have predicted what she was going through. She didn’t have any immediate family, she was divorced, no children of her own. She just had elder brother and nieces. Ananya felt how small her own struggles were.
After couple of days, she was heading towards her landlord’s house on 3rd floor to pay the rent when she noticed Abby staring into nothingness and had moist eyes. Abby was a single mother staying on the 2nd floor with her beautiful year old daughter. She was always quiet but had a smile on her face. All the girls would play with her daughter Emily and happily baby sit for her. Ananya didn’t want to pry but she said hello to start the conversation. Abby came back to reality on hearing Ananya’s hello. She wiped her tears and smiled. Ananya just patted her, held her hand. This was unexpected for Abby but she responded with a hug. Sometimes you don’t need words to convey strong emotions, few gestures do wonders. After that day Abby and Ananya started talking more about life. Ananya got to know Abby’s story, she was a brave girl. She was only 26 and she was raising a year old daughter. She was a student at the University at day time and a waitress at a nearby hotel for a few hours in the evening. Her college boyfriend had left her for another girl having a green card. She was already pregnant at that time. Abby decided to continue her pregnancy. That’s why she was in University and raising her daughter as well. She was good in studies and hence she was finishing her course a year early. She wanted to take a decent paying job so that she can manage her finances bit well.
All these people around Ananya were leading very normal life in spite of the situations they were in. These people really gave a new perspective towards life to Ananya. She became more positive, started being thankful for small things in her life. She was a changed person now.
Ananya was smiling often, she was making an effort to help people however small it may be.
She loved her life and was thankful for it.
Her assignment was coming to an end, she was ready to head home. Yes her home, the way it used to be, her beloved place.
Ananya went to her favorite place in New York, along beachside where she used to go whenever she felt sad. But today she was happy and grateful for everything that happened in her life. New York gave her new life and she was reborn as a different person. She quietly sat on the bench,wind in her hair, smile on her face, gratitude in her heart and started humming her newfound favorite lines.. ‘Love you zindagi!! .. Love me zindagi…!! ‘