My long lost friend…

The faraway look of desolation was difficult to miss when I meet you after a hiatus. We are sitting face to face after a decade. You are chatty, you laugh at my jokes while we reminisce the days gone by with nostalgia peeping in from all nooks and corners. But, I could gauge that something is awry behind your premeditated mannerisms. You are not the same girl who broke into uproarious squeals of laughter at the drop of a hat. You have changed. For a moment I think that the travails of time have transformed you. Time moulds and reshapes our very being and we stand staring at our new selves that stare at us across the mirror each morning. May be you too fell prey to the clutches of Time.

You are a wife now, a mother to a two year old child. As I ask you about the little girl of yours, there is a glimmer in your eyes. And just like that I find my friend. You go on talking animatedly about your little bundle of joy like a child who has suddenly found himself in a toy shop. Then in a blink of an eye, you look glum again. You constantly check your watch and you jump with a start only to tell me that it is time to head home. I make a mental note to call you the next day as I find you eerily distant.

The next day as you pick my call, I sense something in your voice. Is it fear? You sound afraid of something. I beseech you to confide in me, but you are too shaken up to concede. I rush to be with you as I know you need me. As you open the door of your apartment in that posh building, I am stunned. You are bruised and you are not at all like the woman I met a couple of days ago. As I comfort you, you break down. Tears give way to shrieks of pain and misery which were buried deep down in the chasms of your heart. Yes, my apprehensions were not baseless. You are a victim of domestic violence. You had been suffering abuse since the day you were married. The perpetrator of this heinous act is the father of your child. I look at you questioningly as to why you have been enduring the pain. Your silence tells me the answer as you look at your two year old girl who is building blocks at a distance, oblivious to the fact that her mother’s abode has stumbled and shattered into pieces long ago.

You are wretched, you are lonely and you are scarred. But, you are the same woman who not many years ago, was elected Vice President of the College Council. And how can I forget when you stood up for one of our friends who was groped by a pervert in a city bus. No, I refuse to perceive you as a meek woman who does not have the courage to stand against wrong. You have to be a role model for your little girl not by bearing and becoming a sacrificial lamb in this patriarchal society but by standing up for yourself.

As you listen to me, fresh tears well up in your eyes. The trauma and fear which had hitherto stopped you from taking a step forward dwindle slowly but steadily. May be you had the strength within you all along. May be we all do. There are many such women who lead dual lives and are victimized. I hope and pray that may each of these women find the courage to rise from the throes of fear and subjugation. But, at times we need an anchor, we need someone to give us that little nudge which leads us towards the path to freedom and happiness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we look around and be that anchor for someone who needs us?


# This post has been written as a part of the Blogathon #ALettertoHer by Women’s Web to create awareness about domestic violence.

# I am looking forward to read Meena Kandasamy’s new book as it is time we come out in the open and talk about domestic abuse since it is embedded deep in our society.


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The Verdict

Radhika adjusted her dupatta for the tenth time as she sat staring blankly towards the ceiling, where a fan moved languidly making a screeching noise. She looked around the huge room where she had been sitting for the past half an hour or so. It was a dilapidated building and the newly yellow painted walls did little to dispel the air of glumness that pervaded in the air. Radhika tried hard to whisk away the fear that engulfed her all of a sudden like an uninvited guest. She fiddled with her dupatta yet again in an effort to take her mind off everything that tormented her.

Radhika had always been a chirpy girl. Her big eyes and long curly tresses made her look vivacious. She had a happy childhood and had lots of friends. Her father worked in a bank and her mother was a housewife. Every evening Radhika and the other children in the neighbourhood would throng the building compound and play hopscotch and hide and seek. Little Radhika and her friends would spend hours playing various ‘make believe’ games. Radhika always insisted on becoming the ‘mamma’ and her friend Kriti would end up playing ‘daddy’ owing to her height. Radhika would bathe her doll and make her wear pretty dresses.

Time flew away on its ‘winged chariot’ and Radhika turned sixteen. But, she still was a naïve, curly haired girl. Adolescence rendered her into a charming young woman. She was not quite ready for the attention that she garnered from the opposite sex, not that she didn’t bask in it. Little did she know, that her happiness was going to be short lived. She could never forget the fateful day when her life turned upside down.

Radhika was returning from her tuition classes one summer evening, humming blissfully when she was suddenly pulled inside a moving van. What transpired after that still made her shiver with fear and filled her with insurmountable anger. She was scared, she was aghast with misery. What had she done to deserve this gruesome behavior? For days together, she couldn’t drop a tear. She was numb. Then, one day the barrage of tears trickled down her cheeks and she howled vehemently. The innocent, curly haired girl became a zombie. The perpetrators of the crime were put behind the bars within a few days. But, Radhika’s life had changed.


As the bespectacled, grim looking judge took his place, Radhika looked at him, with hopeful eyes. As he read out his verdict, she could no longer hold her tears and her mother who was sitting next to her, hugged her tightly.

Radhika was accorded permission to terminate her twenty weeks pregnancy. Yes, the biggest aftermath of that macabre event lay there in her womb. Radhika never knew that she would want to abort her unborn child. But, she also did not know that she would have to seek permission to do so. Was it indiscernible that, the child was an outcome of a ghoulish act of brutality? Could a girl, who was all of sixteen years, raise a child who was born out of violence and force? But, she had to move from one legal building to another to beseech the permission to do what she wished to make of her life. The past five months bore heavy on her and suddenly, as the judge passed the verdict in her favour, she could feel fatigue encompassing her being.

The unfortunate incident had left her bitter but it did not make her lose hope.  The long struggle to get the right to abort, had an unusual effect on her. It made her defiant. She wanted to become a lawyer. She did not know if she could make a difference, but she wanted to do her bit however paltry it might be.

Radhika, who liked playing ‘mamma’ in all those childhood ‘make believe’ games, still wished to be a mother some day, but only when she wanted it.


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The little girl who talks to birds!!

Dear A,

I see right through your distress when standing in that queue, on being pushed, you firmly but politely tell the offender to not indulge in such an act. I can feel what goes through your mind when your soft heartedness is mistaken as your vulnerability. There are all kinds of people in this world. Some are bossy and feisty while some are humble and quiet. But, we need both the kinds to maintain a healthy balance. Sensitivity is a virtue which is crucial and in the present times of strife and restlessness, it is what each and everyone should possess.

I am glad that you are sensitive. You are sensitive towards that little squirrel that hurt itself. I am overjoyed when I see you standing by your friend who is in tears while the others have slowly moved away. You stand still but you are there. And, this makes me proud. I was touched, when the house help stood in the kitchen on that sultry summer afternoon and you came up with the idea of putting a table fan to put her at ease.

As you grow up, you may feel at times that you are a push over or that you are not aggressive. But, let me tell you that you are considerate and kind and if that makes you meek, be it. As the magnitude of impatience increases in this world, it becomes all the more important to have a breed of young individuals who can see the emotional travails of that father who lost his twins and family in Syria. It would be blissful to see you and other young boys and girls turn into patient and strong individuals who are much more than those trolls typing away to glory and who seem to be offended by each and everything that transpires around us.

So, my dear, do not be bogged down by people who are physically strong and who are constantly putting you down. I am sure, the mental strength and the humility with which we have equipped you will make you a bigger and a better person, anyday.

Just the other day, you said that you could talk to birds. I smiled but humored you nevertheless. I wanted to tell you that humans cannot talk to birds. But, something in me stopped me. I wondered when was the last time, I did nothing but ‘stand and stare’. Nature is an intrinsic part of us and it was you who reminded me of it, unwittingly. ‘Child is the father of man’, Wordsworth said. I sincerely hope it stands true for you.

But still, when you come back from school and tell me about that boy who pushed you, I wonder what I should tell you. Should I ask you to retaliate thereby replicating what he did to you? It is a tough call to make for me as a parent. Some years ago, even before you were born, as I lingered around in a shopping mall, waiting for a friend, I happened to witness something. In a nearby play area, a stout looking four or five year old boy slapped a girl of the same age. As the little girl held back her tears with great effort, I saw her mom rush to her. The father of the other boy stood there, grinning with pride as if he wanted to say ‘look how strong my son is’. The look which rested on his face stayed with me. I couldn’t help but wonder that in our bid to raise strong children, are we raising hooligans, without an iota of sensitivity. Am I old school, if I still believe that you should be polite, wait for your turn, greet your elders and most importantly, apologize if you err.

But all is not lost. When I see you my child, I feel I can hope. I can picture better times in the offing. I can hope because there are still some little fellas who have the heart to feel for others and who can talk to birds.

Stay as you are…







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The Dilemma

It was a quiet sunny afternoon, the wind ruffled her hair and her sari fluttered as if in a hurry to break free and fly unabated far away towards the unseen horizon. Seema quickly reined in her sari pallu and pulled back her tresses. As she sat in the auto rickshaw, her mind was awry with thoughts that seemed to be playing a game of tug of war. She did not know who should be triumphant in the game that her thoughts seemed to be playing. She seriously did not have an answer to this predicament life had put her in.

As she reached home, she collected herself and geared up to face everyone. Everyone in the house went about doing the usual things. Mrs. Gupta, Seema’s mother- in- law looked busy peeling potatoes in the kitchen and as soon as she saw her approaching she wore the garb of premeditated indifference. Her father in law Mr. Gupta, sat in front of the television watching a news channel and cursed under his breath when the anchor took yet another ‘commercial break’ filling the large flat screen television with a macho bollywood actor displaying his ‘vest’ as well as his six pack abs with an unwavering effervescence. Seema hurriedly turned towards her room and found her six year old son busy scribbling away in his drawing book. Her face lit up like a thousand lanterns as she saw him. He was the light of her life. And she sure did yearn for his presence to illuminate her otherwise non- existent entity in the Gupta household.

Dusk fell upon and Seema still had not told anyone about what transpired in the morning. It was hours since she had come back home but still no one had bothered to ask her. Aniket reached home at half past six and plonked on the couch while his mother sat next to him, simultaneously ogling at Seema to summon the customary glass of water for her husband. Seema reminded herself to not get cold water for Aniket as he still had the horrible cough and stood in front of him looking at him with longing eyes. She hoped for him to remember that it was the tenth of March, the day she was supposed to go for the job interview.

When everyone retired to their respective rooms and when it was acceptable for Seema to enter her room and be with her husband, she took a sigh of relief. Aniket flipped the channels of the television that stood in one corner of their room. When the new flat screen television was bought to keep pace with the world, the old one was moved to their room. Seema liked it better when the room was ‘television free’. Those ‘television free’ days gave way to many a wonderful conversations between Seema and her husband. At times, they just lay there, quietly, but the quietness seemed to fill the room with gaiety which surpassed the high pitched sounds that reverberated in these four walls now, with the advent of the idiot box. When a couple of minutes passed and Aniket still did not ask her the question she had been craving for everyone to ask, she spoke, “You did not ask me, how was my interview? “ Aniket looked at her and said with a callous air, “Oh, yes, how was it? You did not tell me.”

“It was great.” Seema grinned from ear to ear. “I had never imagined that after so many years too, I would be able to talk about my subject without fumbling. They liked me a lot. They offered me the job. They have asked me to join from next month.” Aniket looked at her with disbelief but still managed to blurt out, “That is good news. But, are you going to join? Have you made up your mind? I thought you merely wanted to go to see if you can crack it. What about Ishaan?”

Seema was at a loss of words when she heard it. The moment Seema saw the job advertisement in the newspaper, a week ago, she felt it was meant for her. But, it took courage to mentally prepare herself to go out there after a hiatus of seven years. She possessed an engineering degree but that seemed like a million years ago. The last ten years of her life were spent being a homemaker and a doting mother to her munchkin. Seema did not regret a minute of it. But, of late, as her son reached an age wherein he no longer needed her all the time, she had begun to grow restless. The environment at home did not help either. Her days were uneventful, the only spark added was by Mrs.Gupta who was fastidious when it came to liking something done by her daughter- in- law and slowly but steadily Seema had grown weary of her attitude and had come to terms with it. Over the years, the once chirpy and go- getter Seema had become complacent. Unwittingly, she become like the inhabitants of the house she lived in- ‘indifferent’. So, when she saw the advertisement, something in her snapped, which amazed her too. She suddenly wanted to work, beyond these four walls where no one would sneer at her and where each and every task she did was not something which she was ‘supposed to do’.

“What are you thinking?”Seema was jostled back from her reverie and she managed to say, “I did not know they would hire me Aniket. I was not so confident, as you know it has been so many years since I last worked. But, when they offered me the job, I could not say no. It is such a wonderful opportunity. And Ishaan is six now. Moreover, he has his grandparents who can watch over him for a couple of hours.” Aniket stared at her blankly before he said, “But, you are his mother. And you have always been around. How will he cope up? What if he misses you?”

“Aniket, I will miss him immensely too. But, I can at least try. If it does not work out, I can always leave.” Aniket did not know how to combat his wife’s arguments. So, he merely said, “Lets sleep, we will talk about it in the morning”.

But, sleep eluded Seema like those butterflies which fluttered and flew while Ishaan ran behind them in vain. Though, she had appeared to be a self assured being in front of her husband, but on the inside, she was equally concerned about her son. Since the day he was born, Seema had not left him alone. She felt she stood on a crossroad and she had to make a decision. She was miserable. She did not know being a mother could be so hard. Tossing and turning, she dozed off.

The next day, as the entire family sat on the dining table for breakfast, Seema cleared her throat and said, “I had gone for a job interview yesterday. I got the job and I think I want to join from next month”.Seema cursed herself for being so curt while giving out the information. Mrs. Gupta looked displeased and blurted, “You have already made up your mind. What about Ishaan? He needs you.” Mr. Gupta nodded as if it was mandatory for him to follow suit.

“But, mummy you are there. And he is at school mostly; you will not have to take care of him for long”. As the adults sat there, giving vent to their apprehensions about her ‘job’, Seema felt something on her arm. It was Ishaan, who had his palm on her arm. Seema looked at him questioningly.

“Dadi Dadu, Papa, I want mumma to work in that office. Mumma, you will take up that job. I am a big boy now. You told me once how hard you studied to become an engineer. It is not easy to study so much mumma. I can take care of myself. And Dadi is here, I wouldn’t be all by myself. Isn’t it, Daadi?” he looked at Mrs.Gupta and she could not help but nod meekly.

And thus, all the negativity that loomed large in the air, vanished. Seema looked at her little boy with disbelief and suddenly she knew that she did not have to make the decision. Her son had already done it for her. She smiled and pulled the curtains in the living room. The morning sun shone bright and strong and it filled the home with light and warmth like never before.





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Five takeaways from Professor Kelly and the interview that went viral !!

sspRaising children is like a roller- coaster ride. You are exhilarated to the brim but at the same time there are bumps which take you by surprise which make the ride all the more worthwhile. Last week, a certain academician, Professor Kelly became party to an intrusion which made him part of numerous memes and a subject of discussion on various theories swamped all over the virtual world. For those who have not idea as to what I am talking about (though the chances are bleak) it so happened, that Professor Robert Kelly was being interviewed live by BBC in South Korea. As he discussed South Korean politics, his four year old daughter barged in the room, followed by her little brother strutting in a walker. While Professor tried in vain to conceal his embarrassment and hush the uninvited guests, his wife made a frantic entry and took the kids out of the room. But, the interview that was gatecrashed by two kids found a way into the hearts of people all over the world. It appeared as a ‘comedy of errors’ which amused us owing to the sheer spontaneity and simplicity of it.

As I saw the video multiple times, I could not feel any less entertained by the four year old’s entry (who the Professor later on claimed was in a ‘hippitty hoppitty’ mood) and the toddler cutely following suit. While people mistook the Professor’s wife to be the ‘nanny’ as she was an Asian origin woman, which led to debates about how discrimination and stereotypes play unwittingly at the back of our mind, I felt there were many positive and beautiful take aways from this incident:

Parenting is a 24/7 job and it is ok to falter

Claiming that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, is not an understatement. In Professor Kelly’s case, his wife was distracted for a few seconds and that led to the children making their presence felt on television. But, I believe it truly defines parenthood. However hard you try, there will be times when things go awry. But, you ought not to question yourself. It was heartening to see both the Professor and his wife unapologetic about the whole episode and even laughing about it. Parenting sure does need you to have a sense of humour if you wish to waddle through sane.

Balancing work and home is a challenge and we ought to respect people who are doing it

I have been working as a freelance writer for quite some time now, and boy, it is quite an ordeal. Though, you have the benefit of working from the comfort of your home and not harrowing about the well being of your children, it is no cake walk. Be it men or women, ‘work at home’ parents are slogging hard to make it work. Professor Kelly’s case is a glaring example of how things can go haywire in a jiffy. So, hats off to all the parents who are trying to make that Skype call while the little one is screaming at the top of his voice.

No blame –game

There was something wonderful that struck me as I saw the Professor and his wife’s interview after they had become internet celebrities. There was no blame- game that happened. Kelly remarked in a matter of fact manner that he forgot to lock his office door and as his wife was busy taking a video of him on the TV, the entire debacle happened. Also, the couple confirmed that post the sensational interview, they did not indulge in a tiff rather they merely laughed about it. This tells us about the harmony and self assuredness that is so very important in a relationship. I was touched by the way the couple handled the whole situation without any sort of animosity towards each other.

It was ‘real’

Why the clip went on to become an internet sensation and why we loved it so much? Well, it tugged on to our hearts because it was real. It was not reality- television, it was not a scene from a movie but it was real and it was life as it is mostly. As Professor Kelly himself said, “I think the reason why this went viral is because my real life sort of punched through the fake cover I had created for television”. It resonated with not just working parents but parents far and wide who maintain their sanity while striving to be ‘good parents’.

Not everything is debatable

During such times when people are looking to be offended by one thing or the other, wherein their patience levels have stooped down to an all time low, it was uplifting to hear the way in which Professor’s wife Jung-a -Kim took on the assumption that she was the nanny. Though, this clearly speaks of how deep ‘stereotypes’ are embedded in the society, but starting a propaganda is not always the solution. “I hope people just enjoy it and don’t argue over this thing”, said Jung-e-Kim on how it felt to be named a ‘nanny’. Her maturity was admirable and I believe the world would be a better place if we stop being edgy about everything. At times it is best to let go.

Finally, kudos to the wonderful family that brought a smile on our faces while inadvertently exhibiting the everyday squabbles of parenthood and life in general.

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Why Valentine’s Day makes me jittery!!

reanti-valentines-day5Well, it is that time of the year again. The month which brims with days like ‘Chocolate Day’, ‘Hug Day’, ‘Kiss Day’, is here. Thereafter comes the final seal on the multitudes of these mushy days we have been witnessing since the very onset of the sloppy month of February. It is the day of love- ‘Valentine’s Day’. On this day, love oozes out from all quarters like cheese from Domino’s pizza. Couples, who may be in their belligerent best avatars round the year, too succumb to the mere mushiness that the day brings along and profess their love for each other.

Flowers are bought, chocolates and big teddy bears (I mean, come on, how an adult can take fancy to a grotesquely massive bear) are chosen as a token of love to commemorate this day. Does this look real to you? To me somehow it does not. I believe Valentine’s Day is just a day that is thrust upon us mortals and we are trying our best to live up to it each year, however weary we are.

Every year on the fourteenth of February, I feel jittery. I feel unnerved because I am constantly worried that if I do not indulge in anything mushy, however corny it might appear, I might be labeled as a heartless soul.

The thing is, I have been married for seven years. And in these years, me and my husband have displayed our love for each other, constantly and abundantly. And when we procreated, it became all the more special. I feel his love for me, when he lets me sleep those extra hours and watches over my daughter, I feel all loved when he makes those random calls from work and asks me breezily, ‘’How’s your day coming along”? And yes we do say those three words, just that with a toddler in tow, they are usually replaced by “I am tired”.

So, when Valentine’s Day beseeches us, we do not see the point of going that extra mile for each other, because we do it each day both knowingly and unknowingly, out of sheer love for each other. Love is not an emotion that can be churned out on a particular day because the world is doing so, and if it is so then something is certainly amiss. Love is there in those little moments spent in each other’s company, love is knowing the other person with all his/her quirkiness and so love is to be celebrated on all days not just one.

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The Picture on the Fridge..

fridgeSurbhi sat on the living room sofa with her eyes gazed on the television. As she flipped channels, she lost count of time and only when her mobile rang frantically, then she realized that it was time to leave for work. All dressed up, she opened the refrigerator to get some milk, and then she stood there looking at the picture stuck on the refrigerator. She kept on looking at it with listless eyes, then held herself together and dashed out. This had now become a ritual of sorts for her. And yes, she considered removing it from the refrigerator many a times, but could somehow never muster up the courage to do so. And so the picture stayed there.

Surbhi was drowned in work when the office phone beeped. On the other end was a woman who sounded desperate and scared. She was in distress and she wanted to be rescued. Her plea for help was enough for Surbhi to spring in to action. The otherwise quiet and loner of sorts Surbhi bansal was a different person altogether when she was in her workplace, the humble red building called ‘Prayas’. Surbhi had set up this NGO to lend a helping hand to women who needed to be rescued. The edifice of the NGO came from the thought that she did not want any other woman to go down the pit of darkness and helplessness which she experienced years ago.

And so here she was, meeting Meera, the woman who had called the helpline number at Prayas. Meera looked pale and touched her belly every now and then as if to give some kind of reassurance to the tiny being dwelling inside her. Surbhi looked at this pregnant lady and held her hand. Meera’s eyes welled with fresh tears and what she told her left Surbhi aghast. Meera was married into an affluent family of doctors. She was five months pregnant with twins. Her in laws were hell bent on her getting a gender test to know if at least one of the unborn children is a boy. Surbhi feared that they could go to any extent if at all it isn’t a boy. She had refused and in turn had to bear physical atrocities.

As Surbhi sat there, it felt as if she was made to walk through the dark alleys of her own past life. A life she struggled to push into oblivion but it stayed there and lurked stealthily sometimes in those nightmares and sometimes in broad daylight. But today of all the days, she had a déjà vu as she listened to Meera. A charade of memories flashed through her mind unabated. She thought of the day she had married Amar, the love of her life, and then the day she knew she was going to be a mother. And the happy memories gave way to dark ones. She shuddered when she remembered how she was pushed to get that gender test and how she conceded though she writhed with indignation. When they were told she was carrying twin girls, they changed. It was as if they wore a garb of goodliness which came out and suddenly they were those monsters who wanted her to kill her babies. Surbhi felt weak, she was determined enough to oppose them. But, she didn’t need to. After a couple of days, her babies bid her adieu. She had a miscarriage. The monsters were overjoyed but that day something died within Surbhi. She felt as if she did not stand by her children. It was as if they were appalled at her for going for that gender test. It was as if she had perpetrated the heinous act of killing two tiny beings. The very next day she walked away from her husband and his family.

Surbhi shook with a start as she felt something on her hand. Meera had put her hand on hers which was icy cold. Surbhi cleared her throat which was almost choked by this time and assured Meera that from now on she need not feel afraid for herself and her babies. She didn’t need to go for that damn test. Meera’s eyes lit up with newfound hope and yet again her hand inadvertently touched her belly.

Surbhi made it her priority to help Meera. She was filled with vigour and her colleagues at ‘Prayas’ looked at her with astonishment.


Surbhi was standing in the hospital corridor waiting with anticipation. Next to her sat an old lady who seemed to be muttering some prayer while her gaze was fixed at the Ganpati idol that stood at the far end of the corridor. The duo was greeted by two chirpy nurses who steered towards them holding two tiny pink babies in their arms respectively. “You are grandmother to two beautiful girls”, they exclaimed looking at the old lady. She was Meera’s mother, whose face lit up like a million lanterns on getting the first glimpse of her grandchildren. Surbhi took one of the girls in her arms and looked at her lovingly. She suddenly felt alive. The moment was surreal.

Meera had given birth to two little girls and as she looked at her sleeping babies in the cot, she thanked Surbhi profusely. She was grateful to her for bringing her out of that dungeon which she thought was home, she was grateful to her for getting those beasts punished and most importantly she was indebted to her because she helped her stand by her babies.


Surbhi was dressed up in a beautiful black dress. She looked at herself in the mirror. It had been long since she had admired herself in the mirror. She liked what she saw. She looked vivacious and there was a glow on her face which could only be brought on by happiness. She was meeting up with an old school buddy who had been asking her out since long but she never conceded. As Surbhi turned towards the door her eyes fell on the picture on the refrigerator. It was the picture of her twins from the ultrasound. Two tiny heads were easily discernable along with miniature like toes and fingers. She moved her fingers on the picture and looked at it lovingly. Then, right then, as if for a tiny second, Surbhi felt that she saw the tiny heads smile at her. Startled, she smiled back. May be, it was time, she thought. She took out the picture from the refrigerator and kept it in a box. As she made her way out of the house, the bright sunlight greeted her. Surbhi grinned from ear to ear. She had found her closure.

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