Anjali parked her car and walked towards her flat. She was tired and was eager to just get home and put up her feet and enjoy a hot cup of tea This was her favourite part of the day when she had the house all to herself. It was the time she was just Anjali the woman, not the wife, not the mother, not the boss, not a daughter in law, just Anjali, the woman.
As she settled down into her comfort corner of her room, a light drizzle had started – the constant pitter patter of raindrops served to calm her frayed nerves after arguing all day in the office about a project she had been working on. She was lost in her own little world when the phone rang. She glanced at the phone – it was Uma, her best buddy from her MBA days, one of the few friendships from her youth that had survived everything, their shifting to different parts of the country, being married to people who barely had anything in common. It was less intense a friendship than it was 20 years ago, but the bonds were still there, unseen but always felt. Always there. Yet, she was surprised today. Uma did not call often except on New Years’ or occasionally, on birthdays.
“Hi, Uma”, she said, warmly. “All OK?”
“Yeah, all IS well”, came the reply. But Anjali was not fooled. There was something on her friend’s mind. “Hey Uma, what’s bothering you?”, she persisted. A few more minutes of similar conversation later, she asked, “Can I just call you sometimes? Just to talk? “
“Yes, Of course”, was her immediate and spontaneous reply. “Okay, thanks”, said Uma and hung up.
That was the beginning of a series of phone calls almost every other day. Uma gradually opened about the problems with Amar, her handsome, successful, banker husband of 12 years. She was fed up and at the end of her tether. They were strangers living under one roof, she confessed. Only the thought of the children was keeping them together. There was no intimacy in the relationship any more. To the outside world they were the ideal couple. He, an upcoming CEO of one the most successful advertising firms in the city and she, an equally bright corporate star on the horizon. The children were in the best schools available and young achievers. What more could one hope for?
A lot, according to Uma. Amar came from a sophisticated family than hers and his mother constantly looked down on her down to earth dress sense and lack of societal niceties. Amar and his mother seemed to be doubting Uma’s abilities every time she set out to do something new, which undermined her self-esteem. Nothing she ever did was right. Nothing she did or said was ever good enough.
In a house where the morning tea was still served in a Silver antique tea set, Uma felt out of place and out of depth. Her successful career, her ability to put together a home with well brought up kids seemed to count for nothing. She felt was always picked upon, she was always found coming up too short of expectations.
Anjali listened most of the time.
Peace seemed to be eluding Uma. She had deep insecurities now which were manifesting as panic attacks. She felt trapped. Trapped in a life she no longer wanted, let alone loved. Trapped in a place where she contemplated just ending it all, the easy way.
Anjali was worried and wanted to help any way she could. “You cannot let life just pass you by, Uma” said Anjali “You cannot give up – you have to fight to keep the love and life alive”
Uma was averse to meeting doctors, but Anjali was firm. She knew an old school friend who was now a psychologist in the same city and she finally managed to convince Uma to meet her. She was evaluated and found to be suffering from moderate depression. She was started on medication. Anjali kept a constant watch on her friend – she would arrange seemingly impromptu meetings over the weekend. Go out for meals, or arrange pot Luck lunches with their old batch of classmates, catch a play or movie, go for treks keep in touch through mails, messages and phone calls over the weekdays.
Gradually there was a change in Uma, imperceptible at first, she began focusing on the positives rather than the negatives in her life. She began to take pride in her work and children, the mainstays of her life. One day, Anjalii asked her, “Do you still write? I remember those beautiful poems you wrote especially when you were engaged to Amar.” “No, not much, any longer. “was the reply.
Anjali suggested that Uma start a blog, mostly as a hobby she could focus on, but also as an outlet for her thoughts. She suggested a popular blogsite, created an account, and asked Uma to make a start. Slowly at first, then more confidently, Uma began blogging. She had an easy conversational style which seemed to endear her to the blogging world and her readership grew.
A year passed. Uma rarely spoke of her problems now. Her problems with Amar and her mother in law and seemed less intrusive and abrasive as she created a world of words. She found common areas of interest with Amar as well her mother in law and took more interest in creating togetherness and harmony in the home they had made. Amar was happy and to Uma’s delighted reciprocated whole heartedly to her efforts. They had found love once again. She also understood her own limitations in dealing with people and consciously improved her communication skills under Anjali’s watchful. indulgent guidance.
Uma had been blogging almost every day. One day, Anjali had a brainwave. Why not compile it all into a book? I don’t have the time or the energy, replied Uma. So, Anjali converted everything on Uma’s blog into an E book. Every week she would fill up book proposal forms of different publishers and await their reply. Finally, a firm agreed to accept the book. The next few weeks were spent in a flurry of activities, of editing the final version, choosing book covers, writing acknowledgements and promoting the book among friends. family and finally the public itself.
Uma’s book was published almost 2 years to the day, after that fateful call Uma had made to Anjali. A Bollywood actor, Anjali’s acquaintance, a senior police officer released the book and friends and family graced the occasion.
The brightest smile that day was Anjali’s. She was a little lost among the people close to Uma among who, Uma was glowing and smiling and accepting wishes and congratulations on her achievement. Amar was constantly by her side, nodding and smiling and interacting with all the guests. Her mother in law and children had also attended the function.
As Anjali stood on the side-lines, forgotten in the excitement of the book release function, she flipped open the book. The acknowledgement on the opening leaf made her smile even brighter.
To my friend Anjali.
Who taught me “To never give up!”
Thank you, Anjali for helping me find my rainbow and never giving up on me, even when I had.
This book is as much yours, as it is mine.
Originally published on Women’s Web