“Rinu..” The cry vaguely entered the ears of the blank-stared girl sitting in front of her laptop.
“Rinuuu…” The voice definitely shouted this time, effectively managing to break the rhythm of the fantastic daydream playing in Rinu a.k.a. Niharika’s mind.
The cursor in front of her flickered hungrily as if reminding her that it hadn’t been fed with a single word for almost 2 hours now. Niharika groaned as she realized she’d created and revised her entire assignment in her mind. And now she would be late for her rehearsals.
“Rinu, why aren’t you answering me?” Her mom stood at her door. “I need you to go to the store and get the items on this list. We have guests coming tomorrow and I’m planning to make..” Her mom kept talking but Niharika tuned it out. “Not now Ma, I’ve got a play to write. It’s Day 1 of rehearsals and the screenplay writer is super-late!”
“But you didn’t tell me you had rehearsals today! It’s already dark, when will you come back? How will you go? I’m coming to drop you. I’ll buy the groceries while I get back.” Her mom said.
“Ma, please. I’m old enough to take care of myself. I’m going to have to learn to do things alone at some point na? I’m not a kid anymore.” Niharika said as she walked out.
She knew she would be late today, rehearsals would run at least up to 10. Also unlike her other friends, she didn’t like to be driven everywhere, instead she preferred to use public transport. But her mom didn’t get how constricting it could be to go everywhere in a small box. There would be a huge fight when she came back tonight, that was for sure, but for now, there was nothing she could do about it.
Niharika had an amazing life. She liked to believe it was because she always did what she wanted to, so even if there were any bad decisions it would be her own decisions. She chose her interest (journalism) as her graduation subject, with a psychology minor. She had planned definite options for her future. She had great friends, and loved to try her hand in anything and everything.
As soon as she stepped out her apartment door, Niharika Goel became a different person, filled with confidence, wit and an incredible zest for life. It was what happened inside that door that she kept locked away. The everyday fights with her mom kept increasing in intensity, starting with the littlest of things and blowing up from there.
Her rehearsal went smoothly, she was sure to win at the theater festival she had enrolled her group in. It was her final year and this festival was an excellent addition to her resume. ‘I need to talk to Ma about that tonight.’ Niharika thought, almost dreading the immediate counter-questions that would ultimately lead to another fight. As usual, she was right.
“The final will be held in a different country, Rinu. If you go to the final and are not able to go then you will feel bad. Why didn’t you ask me before enrolling in this competition?
You have to take the feelings of other people into consideration also. You can’t just go around doing anything that suits you! How will you manage to do everything alone in a whole new country? These things might be normal for your friends and moreover they are boys. In our family girls don’t just go off like this alone with mostly boys. If your father was here now, he would’ve given you an earful.”
Niharika argued and argued about how it was her life and that she should have the say in what to do or what not to do with it. As long as she wasn’t crossing the line in her mind, she didn’t have a problem with what other people thought. But making her mother understand that seemed like an uphill battle to say the least. As for her father.. ‘If he could take out time to take notice of my life, he would have in the last 22 years.’ thought Niharika.
Later that night, as she tossed and turned in her bed, Niharika thought yet again about why things were mostly so rough with her mother. She loved her parents, and they loved her too. Unlike most girls, she told her mother everything (well, almost). She and her mom had good times too- the laughter, the teasing, the outings. The arguments started when her mom couldn’t understand/accept her decisions because they were unexpected.
Niharika was messy and didn’t like her stuff to be moved from the place she had assigned it- the earphones in the bed, the cell phone charger hanging from the wall socket, and so on. Her mom on the other hand, had another definition of things in their place. This led to misplacing most of her stuff which led to another argument.
‘I wish I knew how to make Ma understand.’ thought Niharika. She decided to simply listen to what her mom said about her activities for the next week and deduce why she would say those things.
Next week rolled by in a blink, with rehearsals, academics, volunteering work and getting all the official documents ready. Niharika made sure her mom had ample opportunity to argue with her and instead of replying back, she simply listened. At the end of the week, she sat with her mom when she was in a good mood and explained each argument rationally. Why she did whatever she did and how she wouldn’t do anything to bind her into anything she didn’t like.
She could feel her mother silently protesting, after all this wasn’t how girls were expected to behave. But Niharika could feel her mother giving in maybe because she realized she couldn’t change her Rinu’s mind anymore. Niharika had never intended to be the girl who met all of her parents’ expectations; she knew that was not her cup of tea.
If she could make her mom understand her expectations of herself so that her mom could begin to know what her daughter wanted from life, and begin to be proud of all the things she subsequently achieved. That night, Niharika slept well knowing she had gotten at least one step closer with her mom, though there was a part of her that said- ‘It’s not going to last for long.’
Of course it didn’t last long. With time, more and more of Niharika’s decisions seemed ludicrous to her mother. And they went through the whole process again. But there was something comforting about it too. Niharika was at peace because it had now become somewhat of a tradition between mother and daughter.