Hail Decemb”re”! The final month of the year.

Decemb”re” because we consciously or otherwise, all of us(included), spend a major part of our time in this month reminiscing, reanalyzing, reflecting, realizing, realigning, reassuring, relive – the list can go on and on. And why not?

What does Decembre have in common with an airport and a tunnel? They all signify there is hope ahead, an end of a journey and hopefully a better one ahead. You arrive at an airport, there is a journey out of it towards the city or town. You depart the airport, you are skyward bound! When you go into a tunnel, as you traverse through the darker journey, there is an illuminated one you travel towards.

If you follow formula racing, you would know that a pit stop in a race, is the point where the racing car pauses to refuel. At this point, often a car’s tyres and damaged parts are replaced and the front wings are adjusted. The car is guided into the pit by a Lollypop Man because he holds a similar shaped “stop/ first gear”sign. Decembre is our Lollypop Man!

Even the television channels telecast programmes of what has happened through the year. Reflection!

When I look back at the road I travelled on this year, it was a year successfully completed with a book published and my new avatar as a “Blogger”. Reminiscence!

A friend of mine was unable to land himself in the right job opportunity, after struggling for the last couple of years. He is beginning to flourish as a photographer. Realizing and Realigning! That was his journey from the last Decembre to this one.

Made a new friend and relived her happy moment at the launch of her first book. Relived!

As a matter of fact, I was thinking of including it in my “New Year’s To Do “list – make a new friend, become friend with an absolute stranger. Realized even strangers have many things in common with us. Including a desire to become friends with an absolute stranger! Realization!

And that is why I would like to call it the Renew Year! A new year repeats itself every year….a harbinger of resolutions, hopes.

Meet Amrita. She is very successful in her career and a single mom. None of which she ever dreamed of becoming, as a child or as a young girl.

If you saw her, she would definitely remind you of the actress Tina Munim. There is an enigma on her visage, a poise in her graceful looks and a mischief in her dimpled smile.

She looks the same as she did 9 years ago, except the little crow’s feet lines which have formed near her eyes. She dabs a little of No.7 Lift and Illuminate Triple Action Serum. It immediately tones up her face. Makes her feel better and in control. In control of her slightly ageing-skin.

She picks up her mobile again. Opens a message from Girish. Her ex-husband.

With the mobile in her left hand, she turns to look at her 8-year-old, Aadya. Aadya moved a little and kicked the Dohar( a Jaipuri quilt) which had covered her legs.

Amrita knew it was futile covering her daughter. She would kick it on and off. But that never stopped her from trying to protect her daughter, from the cold. Amrita was very possessive of Aadya. A daughter born from a week of marriage. Girish and Amrita were married for exactly a week.

They had been in love. Contrasting backgrounds created the reason. Both were rebels in their own families.

Girish was an Aiyar and loved eating non-vegetarian food. He was the lead drummer in his school and a person, most girls secretly gushed at. He had a lethal combination of looks and talent.

Amrita Banerjee was attractive. She was not slim, nor did she have a good figure. But her charming face kept all the attention focused there. Though girls in her school used to wonder “why”…why do the boys in the neighboring school go head over heels for her. Amrita often overheard all the gossips about her. But she did not care.

It was an inter-school fest where Girish met Amrita. Cupid struck and before long love blossomed.

Eventually, Girish pursued engineering at a premier college while Amrita enrolled for a hotel management course.

Distance started creating cracks in their relationship. They talked less, communicated lesser. Each interpreted it in a different way. Amrita understood that Girish was busy with his academics and hence. Girish understood it as time’s course of telling them to move on. He had flings and several. But just as he cheated, he got cheated upon too. A blow made him look back, think within. He reached out to Amrita. Amrita picked up from where they had left off. Love letters resumed.

Girish got the best offer of employment on Day zero. He proposed to Amrita formally. Amrita said yes.

The couple had some difficulty in getting the families to agree. But on both sides, they knew they had rebels to deal with.

It seemed to be a perfect love story. A Tam Bram marrying a Bengali beauty. There was opposition. Isn’t a love story supposed to be complete only if it has stiff opposition? At least, that’s what we grew up seeing in movies and believing.

Girish and Amrita chose a destination wedding at Goa, followed by a honeymoon at Seychelles.

And just when the story could wind up with “and they lived happily ever after”, Girish dropped a bomb…he returned alone. He had only his Delsey suitcase for company. And Amrita, returned separately…..hurt and broken but not quite aware what she specifically carried with her.

Nine months later, she became a mother to a baby girl.

Her status changed to that of a single mom.

Amrita’s mother had the harshest reaction, when her daughter returned back to them sans husband sans a wedded life. But she gathered herself and decided to be the rock support her daughter needed.

Amrita immersed herself at her job at Taj, Kolkata. Aadya grew up more in the laps of her grandmother.

Aadya looked like Girish. She constantly reminded Amrita of what had gone terribly wrong in her life.

The first couple of days at Seychelles was as blissful as could be. They clicked selfies everywhere – right from the beaches, to the restaurants to the bed where towel swans welcomed the couple on their honeymoon.

The third day, Girish was a changed person.

“What’s wrong, Girish?”

“You are wrong. Look at you. You are fat. All those tires. Even the bikini is ashamed.”

Momentary silence.

“But I have never been thin. You knew me this way, always.”

“And you have no ambition either. How could you leave your job?”

“Huh?”

“I always wanted to have a smart and attractive wife.”

“So why did you marry me? You are the one who came back.”

Momentary pause.

“And, I put in my papers only because they did not have a suitable role for me at their Delhi office.”

Girish turned his back towards Amrita, his left palm reaching his forehead.

“It’s over!”

He hastily reached for his things, packed his bags.

Amrita sat down in stupor.

She still does it sometimes. Was it her mistake re-accepting Girish…

When she learnt about her pregnancy, her gain after the biggest loss of her life..she reached for the small jar of Paroxetine, the anti-depressant medicines her mother was prescribed. She had taken one and was about to take another, her attempt to forget or flee from the new big problem.

Her mother saw and almost made a Superman like dive and snatched the jar. What followed was a slap, incessant tears and Amrita tightly holding her mother at the waist. Just like she did when she was a small girl, when she did not know how to deal with a problem and worse, when she did not know how to tell her.

Amrita looked at the message yet again. Girish wanted to come back again. After vanishing for 8 years, he had developed a strong yearning to meet their daughter Aadya.

Amrita clicked on her FB profile pic. She now had short hair. She thought she still looked the same, when she was in a relationship with Girish. Only a streak of hair undecided if it should turn full grey. And that did not bother her.

She zoomed in the pic. For a change she was wearing a sleeveless black dress nicely teamed with stilettos. Of course, they were borrowed. Her colleagues convinced and coerced her into them, last Christmas.

Amrita had immersed herself in Handloom kurtas and salwars, after Girish left her. The loose clothing protected her from prying eyes and further body shaming.

She always felt good when she saw that particular photograph of hers. She wondered if Girish had seen it and hence trying to re-establish the relationship.

Amrita clicked on the friend request and the message Girish had left for her on the messenger.

Girish had developed double chin. She scrolled down. Relationship status showed Single.

Aadya coughed in the background.

Amrita decided to reply back to her ex-husband.

I can’t fathom why after all these years you want to meet our daughter. Biologically you are her father, so I can’t stop you. But while you were away and I struggled to juggle between a career and being a mother, Santa gave Aadya, a very loving father. I would like you to meet her…..my mother! My mother has cared for Aadya, yes that’s what we call her…..So, even if you want to introduce yourself as the father, it will only further confuse our child.But if you insist, I will not stop you.Before I conclude, sorry for not being able to accept your friend request. We both know, that we were not even good friends, else we wouldn’t have parted ways the way we did.

<Enter>

After a long time, Amrita smiled. Her phone rang.

Amrita had been selected as the new Head of Operations at the Taj.

She updated her app. Leaving for Spain – with my girl gang.

She sat in the car. When she had just rolled up the pane, a familiar hand touched the pane…and the pain. He tried to stop her.But she looked ahead.

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