The Homecoming: Part 1

Written by Amiti, my little, 6 years younger, teenage cousin. She is quite inclined towards literature and art. I had a chance to catch up with her during my recent stay in Bangalore. A lively young girl who am sure is going to go places. 🙂

The old woman lifted a cautious, wrinkled hand towards the door, as if to knock. She paused in her action, as though something was wrong. The hand remained in the air and it made a well-composed picture: the large wooden door and three steps leading to them, a colourful well-kept garden, two large bags on the lawn, an old woman in a grey sari, facing the door with one hand raised and the mid-afternoon sun, helping cast clear, dark shadows. The woman slowly pulled her hand down, after what seemed like great thought. She continued to face the door, still in deep thought, she raised her hand again, confidently this time, and before she could knock, she quickly brought it down again.

The woman turned around and brought both her hands up to the chest level and stared at them. She let out a slow sigh, and with a defeated air around her, carefully sat down on the steps. “Why,” she said softly,”Why Geeta?…Why?” She looked at her hands again and took in a deep breath. As though tired of herself, she shut her eyes and leant her head backwards.

Geeta Malhotra Kapoor. Everything about her told a tale of acceptance and submission : her yellowing, hollow eyes, her sunken cheeks, her wrinkled brown hands, her tired, hunched shoulders, her slow and cautious walk and the defeated air that surrounded her, all suggested a lifetime’s worth of fatigue. A lifetime’s worth of living in the background. Geeta, born into a well-to-do North Indian family, with parents as social creatures,  was brought up feeling ignored and neglected. From a few months after she was born, Geeta was just known as Mr. and Mrs. Malhotra’s plain and quiet daughter.

This label stuck on to her, even as she grew older and went to school. She somehow stayed in the background for the first year, and didn’t have the energy or strength to break out of her protective bubble of passivity in the years that followed. It was simple to remain that way…she always found herself being the quietest member of the group, and without contributing to the conversation herself, she always had some one or the other acting for her. Even with her passivity, she did wonder sometimes whether she was a part of the group because people envied her or pitied her. But Geeta, being Geeta, let these thoughts, too, pass, before she could reach upon something resembling a conclusion. As she grew into her teenage years, boys teased her calling her “Geeta, the non-speaka!” This also left a profound mark on her, but she could not break this label after it had become so widely known. The label didn’t appeal to her, but again, she was too fearful to come out of it.

Such patterns  continued throughout her life. Geeta. Married to Harshad Kapoor, the wealthy and page-3 industrialist, and a mother of three beautiful children, she was still the little girl who was seen and not heard. Soft-spoken, she was almost like one of the too-many show-pieces in their large, overly decorated house. Why, to the servants too, she was “sirf memsab”, “only the madam”!

Like this, throughout life, Geeta met with these labels. She made no real attempt to correct these people and make them see beyond this image, make them understand that she too was a person. But how could they understand, when Geeta never helped show them that she was a person too, as she had never stood up for herself. Who knows what she was thinking. Had Geeta ever really wanted to break free from it all? Did she have her own set of wild dreams, wishes and fantasies? Did she feel at all? Anything? Whether she did or not, she never showed it…

Now, everything from the past had gone. Just gone. Harshad died almost a month back, and a couple of days after the funeral, Geeta found herself faced with subtle hints suggesting she settle into a good old-age home for herself. Geeta, still the same Geeta, agreed to this in silent submission, made no objections as to why she couldn’t live in either of her three childrens’ large homes. And that’s when, with vague promises to keep in touch, Geeta found herself here, sitting on the steps in front of the door, with two large, heavy bags parked on the lawn on a fine Sunday afternoon, under a large red board saying “Sree Krishna Bhavan, Home for the Aged.”

Geeta sat on the steps of the Home, completely alone, abandoned and exposed, for the first time in her whole life. There was no-one who knew her here and there was no-one’s shadow for her to remain in. Geeta, full of hopes and fantasies, now felt a growing sense of fear, uneasiness and foreboding.  It latched onto her and she didn’t budge, just as she had found herself latched onto her husband and could not free herself. She did not dare get up and try to knock again, and start a new life. There was something holding her back; and she could not place a finger on what it was. A lifetimes worth of memories rushed into Geeta’s mind and Geeta stayed with this haze. Her meandering mind took her everywhere, from her school-days, to her wedding, to the birth and growing up of her children, right to the growing up of their own children. Through these blurred memories, Geeta suddenly saw clearly. She saw everything clearly for the first time and it hit her hard.

She now saw herself for what she truly was, a way she had never done before : a part of a wall, always around, in the background, but never sought out for anything. She had no personality and now she felt she had no identity either. Harshad Kapoor’s wife? What did that mean here? What did that mean anywhere? Harshad Kapoor was gone, not to return. All he left behind was a pile of money, which was of no use to Geeta : he had taken away her identity. But she still was Geeta Kapoor, wife of late Mr.Harshad Kapoor. Geeta Malhotra Kapoor, daughter of late Mr. Gopal Malhotra. No one could try and take this away from her……… be continued

7 Responses to “The Homecoming: Part 1”
  1. Purba says:

    Bravo girl…such an evocative post from a 17 year old. Waiting for the next!

  2. cooltwins says:

    a really good one… 🙂
    looking forward to the next!

  3. Sandy says:

    So many possibilities. Love the ability to paint pictures. Way to go…Looking forward to the second leg of this. Geeta has so many possibilities.

  4. pzes says:

    17 and such lovely writing! Brilliant! Loved it!

  5. nice one! i’m waiting for the next part 🙂

  6. Very very nice one…
    Well Written!!

  7. Amiti says:

    woww, Thank you all for your feedback. I was geniunely surprised, as well as extremely flattered, that people actually read this and seemed to like it! 🙂

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