Rupa sighed as she saw Kavya making a beeline toward her. It was too late to run for covers and too Herculean a task to make herself smaller, considering a lot of her had to be made small.
Tweaking the famous quote from Pride and Prejudice, Rupa thought, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that mothers whose children have ostensibly flown the nest are subject to many an envious stare!”
And envy was no fun, especially when she was the target of that resentment. After spending thirty long years in the mind-numbing corporate world, she quit and returned to school. So, with excitement and trepidation, Rupa entered the world of interior decoration, having had a latent desire and eye for design and colours. She loved working with an eclectic crowd and was happy interacting with and working alongside much younger peers. She thrived on assignments, tests, projects and the non-stop ‘chai pe discussion’ time.
Kavya had this penchant for making one too many remarks about how lucky Rupa was that her children had grown up and settled. She whined about being unable to complete the assigned tasks and moaned more about having aged in-laws staying with her. She did not leave a single opportunity slide by without mentioning that she had to cook and take care of her teenage children. All that would still be manageable if she had not ended or prefixed her statements with either, “How lucky you are that your children are all grown up, and you do not have parents to look after.”
If Rupa had known that envy would be that short-sighted and irritating, she would have borrowed a few children to pass off as her own.
Rupa tried humour, “hey, my children did not go missing in fairs and come back to my fold as adults!” alluding to popular Bollywood films that dealt with lost and found themes.
When that didn’t cut any ice, she turned morbid, “I would be going to the grave much earlier than you.”
Rupa dispensed some free advice on ways and means to grab some ‘me time’ to make Kavya feel better and more in control. She tried telling her that all this busyness was just a temporary phase. But then, Kavya had the tenacity and the ability to annoy as a true blue-bred gnat.
On the day they graduated from the course, Kavya made it a point to proudly introduce her family to her ‘best friend’ Rupa. Looking at the ‘bored’ children and supercilious husband, Rupa felt about eight inches tall when she realized that she, among many, failed to validate Kavya’s feelings, operating from her privileged background. Hugging the surprised Kavya, she told the bemused family that their mother was one superwoman.
She felt herself growing taller, looking at her beaming friend.
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