DR AVNI SINGH
After a week-long trip to Kerala, we were back in Mumbai, at doctor Ishan…err…Ishan’s house and I had shifted my belongings to his room now. We both were sharing one room, after all the turmoil. I feel so foolish now, that I couldn’t understand what he wanted earlier. I was so dumb that I mistook his love for a favour. Who in the world can do such a favour for anyone? Anyways, Ishan and I have an amazing…what we call…sex life? Assisting a gynaecologist in hospital, mostly I’m comfortable in discussing such things with ladies, but when it comes to my own life, I am equally shy and hesitant.
I don’t call him ‘doctor’ anymore. Ishan feels more friendly and better! He was the one who insisted me to call him that, strange, right? Someone who was a senior and like a teacher for me, became someone whom I share a bed with. I changed his habits to a great extent, not that I hated him for the habits he had, but some of them were precariously unhygienic from a doctor’s point of view, like – leaving his tooth-paste lid open, scattering the clothes all across the room to mark his presence, leaving food in oven plates unattended and when the smell rots the kitchen, we get to know something was left inside! I changed them all!
It’s our six months anniversary today. Time flies by so quickly. It seemed like yesterday that Ishan and I were having that weird conversation in his office about getting married, and today, it’s been six months and I’m with him. He extended his contract of the hospital, and tomorrow we are getting married in an official and religious manner – finally!
Ishan’s parents are coming from Indore with a whole lot of guests and relatives, and ours will be a typically Punjabi wedding, for Mr Malhotra is a Punjabi! I am excited to meet my in-laws and equally nervous too. Ishan and I discussed about our residence to which he said that he’ll stay in Mumbai forever, for me, otherwise he had planned to shift back to Indore.
Talking about my mother, we are in good terms now. She seems to have forgiven me for everything and has decided to put the past behind and move on. Father can’t be brought back from the dead, and the only thing that can be done is, moving on with the people who are here, in front of our eyes!
Sometimes, I feel so nauseous when I think about ‘death’. It’s strange that how you’re a hero for everyone when you’re alive, and when you die, people seem to forget you so easily as if you never existed. So weird and so uncomfortable, the mere thought gives me creeps! My father, who was my hero till yesterday, but today, all I’m thinking of is – what dress to wear? What to buy? What location to finalize for honeymoon? The thought of father being dead occurs to me once in a while, I fold my hands, pray for peace of his soul and then I’m back to this materialistic world having timely needs. One thing that has always haunted me as a child is – ‘dying’. There was a time when depression had surrounded me so badly that all I thought about was – ways to kill myself!
Once I went so mad that I Googled the easiest ways to end myself without my family knowing. Hanging with a rope was a bad idea for my room was downstairs, next to my parents, and the door was always open for my parents to keep a check on me. Drinking poison didn’t seem a tasty idea, and neither did drinking toilet cleaner or some other acidic substance for they didn’t guarantee your death. There were cases of survival even after people had drank things like – Acid or toilet cleaners – bad idea!
What appealed the most to me was – jumping off the bridge right into the river. In Varanasi, we had river Ganga and a huge bridge which was on the way to home from my school. Many times I would stand by its edge, cling on the railing to see down. Water would rush by and make haunting noises as I would think about jumping into it. There was sufficient distance in the railings for a thin girl like me to pass and jump. It would appear as an accident if nobody was around and it seemed like the perfect idea to kill myself. The entire idea of suicide seeped into my mind ‘after’ my first breakup. I was not a weak girl who would start crying just because a guy left me, but I surely wasn’t strong enough to handle the fact that the guy I once thought about as my soul-mate, and I dedicated my everything to him, left me nude on a street in the middle of the night!
I wasn’t raped physically, what happened that night between us, was a consensual sex, but the breakup right after sex, did rape me mentally and left some unforgettable scars. That was the reason I was so against marriage since the very beginning. It wasn’t that I was born this way, but the world made me this and transformed my soul entirely. Love was something that I thought to be the most sacred thing, and it turned out to be a nasty, horrible encounter in my life. I can never forget the night when he asked me to leave from his rented apartment, and that too, without a single piece of clothing on my body. I grabbed a sheet to cover myself, and that was the only thing I had on me that entire fucking night. Scared, terrified and weeping, I knocked the door of my best friend’s house, who lived down the street with her room-mates. That entire area was rented out to students who came to study from other cities. Thankfully she let me in and gave me some clothes to put on. The next morning I went to my home, revealing ‘nothing’ about the so-called group-study of last night!
Being a medical student, I knew about the pill that could prevent pregnancy, so on my way home, I bought one and ate it right in front of the medical store. The owner looked at me as if I was some prostitute, and his co-workers had already undressed me in their imaginations, I knew the rumours won’t stay suppressed for long, and someday, these lecherous bastards would spread that a teenager ate an I-Pill in front of them, that was the moment that the thought of suicide struck my mind. I smiled and showed a middle finger to the co-worker, who was making dirty gestures at me, and walked away.
A night before 18th May, 2007 (the day I planned my suicide), my mother had made ‘Undhiyu’, what we call a ‘mixed-vegetable’ in English. My mother, being a Gujarati, was an expert in cooking and a fond foodie. She loved food more than anything, even more than me I guess! That night, she served me Undhiyu and I separated out all the bitter-gourd pieces as I hated bitter-gourd since childhood. In my mind, I was anyways thinking about jumping off the cliff tomorrow.
‘What’s wrong with these gourds?’ mother pulled me out from the river.
‘Nothing, I just don’t like them…I don’t want to eat them, they’re useless. Why do people even grow such vegetables?’ I vented out my frustration on the poor gourds!
They say, a mother can see your heart from your eyes, maybe the same thing happened that moment too. I don’t know what happened, but what she said next, changed my mind completely!
‘Avni, maybe today you think that this piece of bitter gourd is useless, but tomorrow, if someone is diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, or heart problems, bitter gourd would be one of the topmost recommendations for him, and he will love them for these bitter gourds will be saving his life, isn’t it, daughter? Same is the case with most of us. Yes, we are no less than vegetables! Today, you may think you’re useless, and totally unworthy, but there will be a time, when you will be needed and you will be rewarded too. Let that time come, daughter. If bitter gourds will stop growing today, what will happen to the diabetic people? What will happen to the people who rely only upon one type of diet? If you think they’ll die, you’re wrong, they will be ‘switched’ to another diet and the gourds will be ‘replaced’ by something else.’
‘Same thing will happen to many things tomorrow if you think you’re not worth it. Every person comes with his own destiny and a set of choices, Avni. If you think destiny determines your life completely, you’re wrong. You also have your set of choices which determines the course of your life. It may not be your time today, or right now, but you will be needed, and so will be every person on this earth. Everyone has a purpose of his life, and if you give up today, somebody else will grab your opportunities and somebody else will serve the purpose which was actually meant for you to fulfil. Do you want this to happen, Avni?’
I was speechless for a moment. I didn’t know mother knew so much about life and destiny. I thought about killing myself, how shallow! I thought about ending myself just because I was scared of my image and I was afraid of falling for someone else in future! That lecture from mother motivated me so much, that till today, I’ve never felt like killing myself because it’s simply sheer cowardice. You can’t be celebrated and worshiped if you kill yourself, you will simply be termed as a wasted soul, and I didn’t want such a tag to linger with my name after I die. I wanted to do something that my name would be remembered for a courageous and brave act and not for cowardice. I started living independently after that, and went into no other relationship. My career became my life and my soul-mate and I was ready to dedicate my entire life to it because I know, that my career won’t dump me nude on a street in the middle of the night and tell me that it doesn’t love me anymore!
Ishan is the only guy who managed to change me and open the doors of love in my heart once again. I thought maybe I’ll die single with a few cats surrounding me in my old, rusty house, but Ishan once again brought back those candid dreams, dreams of having a life-partner, my own kids and everything that I had put back in a closet long ago.
Today, when I heard that mother was finally coming for my wedding, I remembered the time I shared with her. Being busy in my medical-preparations, I hardly had any time to interact with my parents when a child most needs to. After that, I shifted to Mumbai and since then, we didn’t discuss much. The little chats we had stayed with me for long, and taught me more than anything else did. Whenever I had bad thoughts or dilemma, I would think about what mother taught me, and I would instantly find out solution right inside myself. Every problem has a solution, and every solution is inside of you. But many times, we seek answers outside and end up on wrong path, this was the thing that I never did, thanks to my mother!
Today, is the happiest day of my life. Not because I will be religiously, ceremoniously married to Ishan tomorrow, but because my greatest guide, the light of my life, my mother would be with me. I just await the day of tomorrow now. My eyes would look forward to see my mother, and Ishan dressed up in groom-wear…