The door bell rang and Anita rushed to see if they had come. It was the person from Amazon.
She looked around her house. Everything looked good, yet she felt slightly uneasy. It had been years since they had last met.
“When are they coming?”, asked her husband.
“Vani just rang up to tell that she’d be late at least by an hour”
“O is it? Have they lost their way? Shall I go and help them with the route?”
“Hmmm ok… I’ll inform her”
“Papa, I’ll also come… Amma, please ?”
“Ok” smiled Anita. Little Anakha loved going out, and no one was allowed to leave the house without taking her with them.
She still remembered Vani’s marriage. She had looked gorgeous in her traditional wedding attire. Within a month she too had got married. They had settled down in different cities. Initially they had called up each other every week. But as time went by, they had moved on to mails. The advent of WhatsApp had been welcomed by everyone with enthusiasm – long lost friends were found and chats that lasted hours followed. Vani and Anita were no exception. As the original enthusiasm faded off, communication had trickled down to just swapping forwarded messages.
It was at this juncture, that Vani had surprised her with a message saying that she was coming to Chennai for a week, and would drop by, when possible. Anita was too happy for words, she wanted Vani to feel at home when she came, and so she scoured Vani’s facebook and twitter pages to know her current likes and dislikes.
Her research gave her a lot of information on her best friend. But it also made her quite apprehensive. She learned that Vani now held a very high position in a reputed MNC. She had scaled great heights, career-wise. Suddenly her friend’s visit didn’t seem to be such a wonderful news.
She thought of the days they had worked together. They had had great fun. Had she not resigned her job, given up her career, maybe she too would have held a high position like Vani. But she had found it difficult juggling a demanding career and family, and had finally, out of her own will, taken the decision. All these years, she had never regretted it. But now…
Just then the bell rang. She welcomed her friend with warm hugs and kisses. After lunch, they sat together in the balcony chatting. Anita realised that nothing had changed between them, the years that had separated them, their families; nothing had been able to steal the charm of their friendship.
That night, for the first time Anita, told her husband – “Maybe I should never have left my job you know… Was it a mistake, Rahul?”
As if in answer to her doubts, her phone rang. It was almost 11:00 PM.
Too late for a chat, she thought.
“My dear, I called you to say that I enjoyed the day a lot. My kids can’t stop praising about Anita aunty’s wonderful dishes. And you know what….” Vani’s voice went quiet all of a sudden.
Anita waited, for she knew that Vani was trying to regain her composure. She had not changed in the least.
“…when my daughter told that Anita aunty is the best mommy in the world, for just a second I envied and hated you, Anu… I’m so sorry…” she sobbed.
Anita couldn’t stop the tears that were flowing from her eyes.
“Vani….”, it was Anita’s turn to confess, “when I saw the photos of your awards and recognition in your Facebook page, with so many commenting that you are a truly dynamic woman, a great inspiration, I too felt a pang of jealousy…Your success, your achievements, made me feel so ordinary, so incompetent, that I actually wished you’d rather not come over…O… it was so mean of me… I’m really sorry…” quavered Anita.
The silence that followed, perhaps lasted for just a few minutes. But for both of them it felt like an eternity. They had confided in each other, like the old days, their deepest and ugliest thoughts. Both felt relieved and the bond that they had shared all these years had grown a lot stronger in those few minutes.
It was Vani who broke the silence.
“I have always wanted to lead the life that you now have – just being a loving wife and mother. No work pressures, tensions and deadlines. A peaceful and serene life, where you enjoy everything you do, and have time for all your hobbies. Yes, having a career is great… I do feel proud of my achievements, and bask in the glory of the awards that I get. Very few women are able, today, to reach my level. But I’d give anything for your life, Anu, anything…”
“The grass is always greener on the other side, Vani…. And though we know it, the road not taken or rather forsaken, always looks so attractive, and our current life so dull…”