Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
After a really long time, I was finally going to catch up with my childhood friend, Neetu. We had decided to meet at a nearby cafe near our school. Both of us were very excited to see each other. It had been years since we last met, though we were constantly in touch with each other through calls and messages.
As I entered the cafe, I spotted her in a light blue dress and looking as radiant as ever. We hugged each other and both of us were bubbling with joy upon seeing each other. Then we started talking about what all we missed in each other's life in the past few years. I told her about my crazy days managing two boys and my profession. Neetu was a dentist by profession, and was very good at her work. But, for an otherwise chirpy girl, she was unusually quiet that day.
I asked her, "Neetu, are you alright?"
There were tears in her eyes when I asked her that.
"Neetu, please tell me what's wrong? You can share what ever you want with me dear."
"Arva, you know what, I'm sick and tired of my life.. At every point in my life, there's someone or the other ready to taunt me and interfere in whatever I do. I just can't take it anymore."
I then told her, "Please calm down Neetu, and tell me what exactly is the problem."
"You know Arva, now I can't even talk to my guy friends freely, thanks to my so called extended family. Gaurav, even though is my husband and has no problem with that, but the others definitely do. I have a very good friend, Vishal, he is actually the husband of Gaurav's cousin. We keep calling each other every now and then and we also chat on WhatsApp almost everyday. We share our day to day banters and we have many common interests. So we enjoy talking to each other. So, once in a family gathering, my mother in law's sister asked me in hushed voices that am I having an extramarital affair with Vishal? To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I mean how can she ask me something like that? I don't care how she came to know that I even talk to him, but seriously? How can she judge me like that? Okay forget her Arva, what was more shocking was my mother in law then told me to stop talking to him. I reiterated that I haven't done anything wrong and I will not stop talking to him. So, I left from there with Gaurav."
Neetu continued,"Then, at home I told Gaurav everything that happened and I also told Priya, Vishal's wife all that happened in the gathering. They both assured me that I have done nothing wrong and we can talk to each other to our hearts content. Then, after a few days, my mother in law told me that it's high time that we have a baby now. As when I get a baby, I will not get time to talk to other girls' husbands. I mean, how lame is that? Gaurav and me are married for 5 years, but we both are not ready for a baby still. What irks me more is the way they judge you. Befriending other guys even after marriage, not having a baby; are all my choices. If my husband has no issues with that, he doesnt judge me for my choices, then why does everyone else have to interfere? I'm so frustrated and annoyed by all this. And the way they look at me.. I can't even describe.. like I have committed some sin!"
Neetu was visibly relaxed after she poured out her feelings to me. She said,"Thank you so much for listening to me Arva. I'm feeling much better now."
" That's what friends are for, dear. You don't worry so much. Concentrate on your career and family. Don't get upset with such things. People who matter to you know how you are, what you are. They know the truth. So why bother about others. Others will keep judging you for everything that you do; whether good or bad. They will not stop. So you don't spoil your mood because of them. Ignore them. Trust me, I have been through all of this and much more. In fact; the day I stopped reacting to such people, they stopped judging me for my choices. And some still do, but I just ignore them. I only do what I want to do. So it is all upto you. Enjoy your life.."
Neetu was indeed much better after our conversation and we had a gala time reliving our childhood memories and school days. We then parted ways with more promises of catching up often and the next time, I was supposed to get both my kids with me! I wonder how will I manage that. Well, only time will tell.!