“…..I can’t believe the boy doesn’t speak Hindi.”
“The ocean washed over all my sorrows. You should try it too.”
“The ocean won’t help now. She’s ruined.”
“So young.. And yet..”
“She can get back on her feet… can’t she?”
The girl listened to all the advice pouring over her. She didn’t want any of them. It seemed more like gossip anyway. She just wanted to be left alone. True, some of them had their hearts in the right place. They gave some pretty good advice, in fact. But most of them were just feeding off her misery.
Her name was Alisha and yes, she was a divorcee at 23. Alisha had rushed into marriage at 21 despite her parents’ many protests. Her parents didn’t really protest the marriage because she was too young. Their main problem was that the boy was not of her caste. They didn’t even share the same mother tongue!
“We can speak in English” Alisha had told them. “It’s a perfectly good language to communicate in.”
“And will English be the first language you teach your children? Don’t be ridiculous Alisha. The child will then grow up without ever learning Marathi. Or even Hindi for that matter. I can’t believe the boy doesn’t speak Hindi.”
“He does speak Hindi. He just prefers English” said Alisha dryly. She regretted saying that immediately because the gasps of how anyone could choose English over Hindi followed.
But Alisha was stubborn. Within two months she was married to Rohan. The two of them had just turned 21. Her parents had come to the wedding after much coercing and they wore an expression of distaste the entire time. They even tried to find an excuse to duck out early much to Alisha’s dismay.
Alisha and Rohan had had their honeymoon phase and as all young couples do, they hit a rough patch. They were immature, too young to handle the differences. And it caused them to split up. Alisha accepted her fate. Her relatives – not so much.
Alisha decided to move away to escape the negativity. She enrolled herself in part time courses online and she worked at a call centre to earn a living. It was a rather laborious existence. But Alisha never complained.
Her boss noticed her one day – her extraordinary speaking skills, her impeccable English. He called her into his office.
“Dear child!” he exclaimed. “You could be doing so much more with your life than this. Surely you have better prospects ahead of you.”
“I don’t have money to attend a proper college. So I’m stuck doing this for a while.”
“Tell you what. I’ll pay for college. You can pay me back once you start earning a nice hefty salary.”
Alisha’s eyes filled with tears. Oh if he knew.. She was an odd egg.. She was ostracised by society.. No. She couldn’t take advantage of his ignorance. He needed to know everything if he was to give her money.
So she told him everything. How she had made a rash decision when she was younger. How her family had driven her away. She tried very hard not to break down in front of him.
Her boss listened quietly.
In the end he looked questioningly at her and asked her how it mattered.
Tears of relief flowed down Alisha’s face. For the first time, she was not the divorcee, but a trusted employee with a bright future. Her boss respected her for who she was.
Alisha learned that day that no matter how much baggage you have, you need to hold your head up high. Because there will always be someone who sees you for who you are and for what you’re worth.