The story is based on the metaphorical perspective of the given picture

It seemed like the mirror we must have broken ages ago had caught up with us, bringing a decade of darkness, crammed all together in our current situation.

I don’t even know where to begin. The entire misery was but a vicious circle, in which one calamity led to the other, proved to be our downfall and swallowed all our happiness, like a ravenous serpent.

“Malti, don’t you have to go to the pathshala today?”

Aayee called me, and I pulled my eyes from where I was looking outside the window, gazing enviously at the only big, colossal bungalow in our village. The lump in my throat was difficult to gulp down and I wiped my tears, as I turned around to face her.

 

When she was in close proximity, Aayee saw my glassy eyes and was disappointed. Resting both her hands on my shoulders, she remarked, “Malti, you can’t keep crying over something that was an act of God. It’s been more than two years now.”

I choked and hiccuped on my own words before saying, “A very cruel act of God Aayee.”

 

I diverted my attention back towards the window and pointed out at the bungalow. “Some people are just born with a golden spoon or I think God has given our share of the luck also to them. See how happy they are!”

 

“Malti..!?!”

Aayee made me sit down with her and we squatted on the floor of our small ramshackle house. “Malti, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Being rich has nothing to do with happiness. Don’t forget, the lady of that very same bungalow is helping us today. She gave your mother a job when we had lost everything. And beta, only after working in their house, I came to know that Mrs. Chaudhary is a heart patient, she has diabetes and inspite of having a family, she has no one to talk to. Imagine, she must be feeling so sad and lonely all the time.”

 

Aayee mused up my hair, took me in her arms, and consoled me lovingly, “Malti, a difficult phase comes in everybody’s life, think of it as testing times. You are my brave girl and have been strong throughout, then why give up hope now? Don’t worry, all will be well soon.”

 

Taking a deep sigh, I said half heartedly, “Let’s see. God knows when our dreary days will change?”

Aayee stood up, pulled me along with her and put the strap of the purse on her shoulder. “Enough of sulking. Get ready and go to work. I’m also running late, see you in the evening.”

 

Aayee, Baba and I; we, the Divakar family, were perfectly happy two years ago. We had our own house and a beautiful farm. Then ill fate thought of gripping us in its clutches. A few roguish youngsters of the village, in their drunken condition, set fire to our farm. Everything burnt down to ashes and nothing could be saved.

 

Of course the culprits were caught by the police, however my baba got a paralytic attack and was bedridden. Aayee and I were struggling between looking after baba and working outside to make both ends meet. Baba’s medication was expensive and we had to sell our house. After eighteen months of suffering, baba passed away due to a heart attack.

 

The paramount height of our grief and sorrow was like a limitless well. Nonetheless, Aayee has been more dynamic than me. She’s not only picked up herself, but is also encouraging me to be hopeful for a better future. She says, every cloud has a silver lining, who knows, when will our turn come!

 

So this is the aimless, boring life that I’m living now. I am Malti Divakar, a twenty four years old disoriented, graduate spinster; working as a teacher in the village pathshala. My interests and hobbies have disappeared, and I hardly hangout with my friends. Most of them have got married.

 

* * * * * *

 

“Malti, see who’s come, I’m making chapatis.”

“Ji Aayee.”

The bell rang and I went to open the door. It was the postman. He had an envelope in his hand with an official stamp on it. “I have a registered AD for Mrs. Madhu Divakar.”

“Aayee, it’s for you.”

 

After he left, when Aayee opened the cover and read the letter, the smile that spread on her face was the biggest I’d seen in two years. It baffled me. “Aayee, what is it?”

She embraced me tight and squealed. “The government has compensated for the losses we endured when our farm was burnt down.”

Without raising my hopes, I asked her gingerly, “How much is it?”

She chirped, “50,000/- Malti!!”

I gasped in disbelief and cupped my mouth, “Haaa!!! Really Aayee?”

 

She engulfed me in the circle of her arms again and said, “Beta, didn’t I tell you, not to lose hope? The sun is always there, and surely comes shining through the dark clouds.”

Her joy was contagious and it spiralled through me, reflecting back in my smile which was identical to hers.

 

Aayee huffed out a breath and kissed me on the forehead before adding. “Now there’s nothing to worry about. Our sunshine and rainbow days are here once more. Malti, with our savings and this money from the government, we’ll repair our house and also get you married to a nice, suitable boy.”

 

There is hope after despair, and many suns after darkness. – Rumi

 

Shamim Merchant,

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Author’s note:

 

Who says exams are held only in schools and colleges? Our entire life is a series of tests, one after the other, in every aspect of our living existence. It’s a test of time, patience, courage and commitment. This short story is about hope after going through gruesome testing periods. If it touches your heart, please like and share. Thank you.

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