The Real World
It was Twisha’s Arangyetrem that day. The auditorium was getting packed. Ruhaan and Sia, Twisha’s parents had invited all their friends and relatives. They wanted to make it a big day for Twisha. The auditorium was decorated aesthetically and the stage had a beautiful floral decoration. Twisha loved flowers and all her favourites; the champa, lily, rajanigandha and white and red roses gave an ethereal look. Twisha in a shimmering gold kanjiwaram, and all accessories look ed stunning. Only her big, oval shaped eyes had a deep sadness, that just did not match her gorgeous looks.
Ruhaan and Sia kept turning to have a look at Twisha and would feel overwhelmed by her beauty and achievement. It was many years of intense hard work in learning and practicing Bharatnatyam that Twisha was ready for her Arangyetram, that was a performance by the student of Indian classical dance, when the teacher or the Guru, feels the student ready for it. It was indeed a proud day for them but Twisha’s sad eyes , made their heart miss a beat. They were seeing this sadness for the last 5 years and inspite of all efforts , could not find the reason. Twisha never spoke. She had stopped speaking for the last 5 years.
5 years ago, one day, due to the teacher being unwell, the ten year old Twisha came back home early from her tennis class. Loud voices were coming from the house. Twisha was taken by surprise and couldn’t help overhearing the heated conversation going inside.
“How many years do I have to go through all this Ruhaan? For so many years I had to bear your mother and her ways; now with her gone it is Babu ji, your father. He is getting so difficult with every single day. He just won’t listen. Have you heard the volume when he is watching T.V.? My ear drums seem to burst and he won’t think of Twisha being disturbed too. I really don’t know why should I suffer like this?” sneered Sia.
“ How can you talk like this Sia?He is 85 years of age. He has become hard of hearing and you do know that very well, don’t you?”Ruhaan was seething in anger.
The fight went on. Twisha, outside was stuck to the ground. It was almost the first time that she had heard her parents jab at each other like this. She always took pride in her loving family. She loved her parents and doted on her grandparents. Till day, she had been unable to accept her Dadi’s death, two years back. She missed her terribly and Dadu, her grand father; for her, he was the cutest person in this world. They spent so much time together, chatting, hearing stories, playing games. Many nights when she would miss her Dadi a lot, she would just creep over to sleep next to her Dadu, while Dadu would hold her hand through the night.
“This can’t be true. I am not hearing right,”mumbled Twisha to herself.
Her parents were her idols. They were so loving that she always could feel their warmth around her. But fighting like this? They never fought; Yes they would have disagreements and they would talk it out, but how could they glower at each other like this?She always believed her grand parents to be her family, but now, knowing them to be an unwanted burden ? Twisha was shell shocked; she felt that her Parents had faked it all for her. Something died in her. Tears streamed down as she rang the door bell.
“Hi Twisha! You are early, sweetie,” came the ever comforting voice of Ruhaan as he tried to hug her. Twisha gave no reply. She could not reply for she could not speak. From then onwards, Twisha had stopped speaking and her huge pair of eyes had sadness filling its depth, all the time. No amount of asking, trying, medication, counselling could be of any help. She continued with life, her studies and her dance. She loved to dance and now she made it her passion. All her hard work and determination had culminated to this day. The performance was to begin. Ruhaan and Sia wondered what was delaying it. Suddenly they saw something and stood still. Ruhaan’s father, in a wheel chair, was being wheeled into the auditorium. He was settled right in the front and the curtains rose. Ruhaan and Sia had thought bringing Babu ji would be tiring for him but they did not know that Twisha had arranged for him to be brought there. Her Dadu had to be there with her on an important day like that.
Twisha gave an extraordinary performance. The auditorium seemed to be bursting with the applause. Twisha’s Dadu was affected by Alzhimer’s now. With saliva drooling from the side of his mouth, he was clapping like a child. He just would not stop and he kept on clapping even when everyone had stopped. Twisha took her bow and ran down the stage and hugged her Dadu tight. Dadu was hugging her, showering her with kisses, gushing with joy. Twisha was murmuring,
“Dadu, I love you. I will always look after you. I will always stay with you,” she kept repeating till she passed out in Dadu’s arms.
Ruhaan and Sia were a silent witness to all this. The Doctor was called for and Twisha was tended to. The doctor just advised rest and said she would be fine. Ruhaan took her into his arms and holding her tightly to him he sobbed,
“Our darling, our baby, we love you so very much. Of course we will stay with Dadu, look after him because we love him. Why do you lament so?Thank God you are speaking again Twisha. You will have no idea how much did your mom and I pray for you. We love you very very much, you know that, don’t you?” Twisha kept holding her father tight as she sobbed her heart out. Dadu, with his trembling hands, was trying to console both of them. Sia was holding the wheel chair and was crying her bitterly.
They all went home. Ruhaan and Sia sat with Twisha .
“What had happened my love, can you please tell us? Why were you assuring your Dadu that you will look after him? We do that, don’t we? What made you say this, do tell us ,” implored Ruhaan.
Mumbling, sobbing, Twisha recounted that day 5 years ago and Ruhaan and Sia sat there aghast, listening to the pain that their child had gone through. After calming down, Sia said,
“Twisha, unfortunately you heard something that you were not meant to. We are all human beings and many a times, we err. I can understand how you felt to hear the things that were spoken about, during the fight. Anger has the power to get the worst things done. What you heard that day, was an outburst, in anger. It would have been so much better if you would confront us right away and demand an answer. Things would have got sorted then and you would not have to go through so much of pain,”sighed Ruhaan.
“Twisha, we have always encouraged you to ask, promising you answers. Your grandparents are very dear to both of us and believe me, over time they have become just like my parents. Don’t I get angry with my parents too at times when they are unreasonable?This is our family and I feel very happy to see how much you love your grandparents. We are sorry that we were probably, shouting at each other and that scared you. It would be so nice for all of us, if only you would have confronted us.We faked nothing ever,” lamented Sia as she put her fingers through Twisha’s hair.
Twisha lay there trying to understand and learn the real, adult world.