Is It Really Just Destiny???
The train chugged into Howrah station. You could only see a sea of people all around, as far as your eyes could take you. Looking out of the window, Riti was feeling overwhelmed. Kolkata had always had this electrifying effect on her. She simply loved this place and was coming here after a long span of ten years. School, work, someone in the family coming to spend vacations, all of this had made their annual visits to her maternal grandparent’s house, pretty infrequent. She had come now, with her parents, to attend a cousins wedding. How much she had to plead with her research guide to get this one-week off and oh! how happy she was to be here.
She had been running down her memory lane, all through the journey. Her Dadu and Dida always doted on her. She remembered vividly all those times when she would cuddle up with her Dida, listening to stories ranging from fairies to giants, from Gods to demons, animals, birds, aliens and what not. What fun she would have! She was filled with the warmth that she always got from her grandparents.
Among so many faces from her grandparent’s house, two of them stood out clearly. They were her cousin sisters, Roly and Polly. They were identical twins and Riti had not seen any one more beautiful than these sisters. Peach skin, two pools for eyes, lovely cascades of shining black hair that Ratna aunty would so lovingly oil, massage and tie into plaits. Aunty always would call them her princesses and dreamily say that she would marry each of them to the most handsome prince ever, who would keep them like queens. Roly and Polly were never asked to do anything in the house. They would just take care of themselves and they were so pampered that anyone shouting at each other, would make them tremble. They were so soft spoken and ever so gentle.They were the epitome of kindness. They would happily share all their dolls with Riti and the trio would have a great time, playing together.
Time flew and Roly and Polly got married. They got married on the same day. Both the grooms were among the most eligible, hailing from elite families. The brides looked stunning and it was a fairy tale wedding for all. That was ten years ago. Riti was eagerly looking forward to meeting her Roly di and Polly di, now, who were also coming to attend the same wedding.
Ananda Mama stood smiling at the station to welcome them. In no time, everyone had huddled into his Innova and were speeding on the magnificent Howrah bridge, a marvel of architecture, built over the shimmering Holy Ganga. Gaping at the changes over the last ten years, they all reached home. Then followed the customary cries, hugs, greetings and tears. It was very much like a typical marriage house with all it’s hustle and bustle. Suddenly Riti was drawn into a tight embrace. It was her Polly di, looking even more beautiful than before. She introduced Riti to her two lovely daughters, who were almost hiding in their mothers’ pallu. Where was Roly di? She was to arrive in the evening, she was told. Riti was soon sucked into all the excitement around her.
Riti was sitting with her grandparents, in their room, when the door opened and someone entered and came to touch her grand parent’s feet. Riti could barely believe her own eyes. This was her Roly di! What had happened to her, she couldn’t fathom. She looked much older than her age. The calm serene appearance had been replaced by a tired, resigned and flustered look. She could only see hurt, pain in those deep pools for eyes. Riti was shaken out of her reverie, by a warm hug from her Roly di. Did she feel the slightest of a shiver? Soon her attention was caught by a cute little boy ,with an impish grin. He was Roly di’s son. Roli di and her son, left the room to freshen up and get ready for the festivities of the evening. Riti turned to her Dida with a stricken, questioning look. What had happened to her Roly di? Her Dida, with wet eyes, gave out a sigh and looking up, said, “It’s all Destiny.”
After a lot of insistence, Riti got to know what had happened. Both the sisters were pretty timid by nature and had been brought up very protectively. After marriage, both entered their new homes, with dreams in their eyes, to be made queens, like what they had always heard from their mother. But they were quite unprepared for the reality. They had never associated marriage with duties, shouldering responsibilities, getting involved with the household chores etc. Both felt lost and both the new families reacted, though differently. Polly’s family treated her like a pampered girl, who now needs to learn a few things. They would lovingly coax her to take up small responsibilities, to make her feel important. Her husband would help her in every possible manner, offering to cook a special dish, doing household chores together, while encouraging her in every baby step that she would take. By doing small things at home, he showed her how to take care of the people one loved. Polly, with all this guided and gentle help, absorbed everything like a sponge and in no time transformed into a confident, responsible and mature girl, who now was an integral part of her new home. She belonged and was very content and happy. She glowed with every passing day.
Roly had something else for her. With her lack of experience in household and kitchen know-how surfacing all the time, Roli was shouted at, ridiculed and humiliated so much that the timid girl would now live in constant fear. While pulling her up for every little thing that she did wrong, her parents would be blamed. She would feel like she was under a constant invisible scanner all the time and that depleted her of whatever little confidence she had. She became a nervous wreck and understandably, more and more chaotic in her activities, adding fuel to the fire. Being a shy and timid girl by nature, she took all this alone, never breathing a word of this to her parents. With time though, her parents got a sense of the unhappiness in their daughter’s life and tried talking to Roly about this. Roly was exhausted, scared and so guilt ridden of her own shortcomings, that she covered everything up with forced smiles, pleading to let her be. With unhappiness writ all over her being, Roly went on with her life. Her husband too was now an angry, frustrated man.
The wedding got over. Riti had no idea how the past five days had flown away. She sat by the window of the Punjab Mail. Looking out, her thoughts ran faster than the train. Faces of her Roly di and Polly di kept flashing by. Twin sisters, one glowing with happiness and the other resigned to deep sorrow? Why such different outcomes? Was it really just Destiny, that her Dida had said or was it something to do with unconditional love and sensitivity shown by Polly di’s husband and his family, that led to a blissful married life and the insensitivity and arrogance shown by Roly di’s husband and his family that led to so much of unhappiness, to all?