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The Calling

She lay in bed thinking that tomorrow would be the day. Sunday. The day she would finally muster up the courage to end all the pain once and for all. She closed her eyes and told herself to enjoy her last night in her bed. As she drifted to sleep, her life flashed before her eyes. This is the story of Mira.

Residing near Bandra Fort in an apartment with a market value of over 6 crore rupees, 28-year old Mira Shah had everything. She had a great job, good friends and a fiancé who doted on her. Everything was going fine, until one day, depression set in. She lost her enthusiasm to go to work, cancelled plans with friends and started distancing herself from her fiancé, Gaurav.

At first, Gaurav thought it was just a phase – after all, people do get tired of a routine life, right? He did his best to cheer her up – flowers, candles, romantic dinners, walks along Marine Drive, weekend getaways… but nothing cheered Mira up. She began to lose interest in talking about their marriage and gradually, lost interest in having sex. A slumber took over her regular life where she refused to go with the motions.

Why this happened, no one knew. She consulted several doctors, went to her favourite Swaminarayan Temple in Dadar, took all kinds of medicines and yet, depression prevailed.

Gaurav eventually broke off the engagement, her friends pulled away and she decided to quit her job. Her relatives tried to console her and patch her engagement up, but she refused to take their calls or answer the door when they visited. She just lay in bed, staring into nothingness.

But tonight, it was different. She had a purpose – death. She was going to get her prescribed sleeping pills and anti-depressants and take them all tomorrow to end this vicious cycle of loss. She closed her eyes, determined that tomorrow was going to be something to look forward to. And then, there it was…

Running around the park. Papa chasing her. Mummy taking pictures and laughing. Everything was perfect. The apple of their eyes, 6-year old Mira was the happiest kid they’d ever seen. They had spent hours playing with her, pushing her on the swings as she screamed with exhilaration. Each weekend was better than the last.

On one occasion, while they were returning home from their picnic, a drunk driver ran over both Mummy and Papa. Mira escaped with minor injuries, but both Mummy and Papa didn’t survive. Taken in by her aunt and uncle, Mira was raised with the same values as her cousins. Her aunt did her best to be Mira’s mum, but Mira didn’t let her in. That day, the girl who would squeal with joy became the girl who would smile shyly. Quiet, introverted Mira made her way up into this world and landed a job at DDB group in Mumbai. Two years into her job, she had moved out to live on her own. She’d made friends, had boyfriends, but she remained as she was: shy.

She longed for Mummy’s embrace and Papa rocking her in his lap until she slept. She longed for the smell of halwa poori in the morning and how she would read the newspaper sat in Papa’s lap. In less than a minute, her world had turned upside down.

Ever since she was young, she would visit the Swaminarayan Temple on Sundays with her parents. She had great faith in Lord Krishna, one of the popular Hindu deities, and would spend hours sat in front of his picture, admiring his serene eyes and naughty smile. Even after her parents passed, she would go to the temple. She never asked Krishna-ji why He took her parents away. She would simply sit there and stare at his idol. Time seemed to stop in those moments when it was just her in the presence of God.

Years later, her Sunday routine remained the same: wake up at 7 am and reach the temple by 8:30 am for darshan and the maha-aarti – a holy ceremony to show reverence to our God. Whether she had been out with her friends the night before, or hadn’t returned home, she would be there at 8:30 am in time for her prayers. After the aarti ended at 9.15 am, she would sit in front of Krishna-ji and stare at his eyes, as if they would provide her with the solution to the problem she was facing.

Naturally, a lot of her friends took her to be religious. But she considered it spirituality. It was never a matter of being religious – it was simply a matter of faith. Faith in a higher power. Faith in someone who is watching over us all.

This Sunday, her alarm rang at 7 am. She didn’t stir. Her alarm rang again at 7.30; she didn’t stir. She finally rose to find out that it was after 12 noon and that she’d missed the prayers at the temple. Instead of feeling bad, she felt nothing. No guilt or feeling low. Just blank. It’s as though her mind canvas had been wiped clean.

She lay in bed the entire day, sleeping. Suddenly, a voice called out her name.

“Mira”

She turned over to see if there was anyone around. She closed her eyes.

“Mira”

She repeated the action. There was no one around.

“Mira, it’s me, Krishna.”

She woke up, sweating. After having a sip of water, she figured it had been her imagination. Relaxed, she went back to sleep.

“Mira, it really is me, Krishna. The very same whose temple you’ve been visiting all these years. The very Krishna whom you revere with love. The Krishna who took your parents away from you.”

Mira was startled, “Krishna? Lord Krishna? Why are you here?”

“To help you, Mira.”

“Help me? How? I don’t need any help.”

“Yes, you do, Mira. Something is bothering you and you’re losing yourself because of it.”

“I don’t know what is bothering me. I don’t feel like going to work anymore. I feel like doing absolutely nothing.”

“I am aware, Mira. Why do you feel like that? You have everything – a good home, a great family, good friends, and the love of your life, Gaurav.”

“I don’t have any of these things anymore, Krishna. Gaurav has left me, I quit my job, my house doesn’t feel like a home anymore and whatever friends I had, rest assured, they’ve stopped calling me about two weeks ago.”

“That’s because you pushed them away. Instead of sharing your feelings with them, you ignored them.”

“I don’t share my feelings easily. You of all people should know that. Sorry, you’re not people. You’re God. You of all gods should know that.”

He smiled. “I know, Mira. But today I want you to share. I want you to let it all out. Whatever, you’ve been keeping to yourself, you should tell me.”

“But you already know. You’re supposed to be Omnipresent and all that stuff right? You run the world, so you already know. Why ask me to share?”

“Because even though I know, the aim is for you to talk. To share your feelings, your thoughts, you opinions. You cannot be a silent spectator for the rest of your life, neither can you bottle up your emotions. It’s not doing you any good. So, speak up. Tell me what is on your mind.”

“You really want to know?”

“Yes, I do, Mira. Tell me.”

“Doctors call it depression, but I feel alone. I have everything, but yet, something is missing.”

“Do you know what that is?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then tell me.”

“My parents”

“What about them?”

“My parents are missing. You took them away from me. My first ever love, Aman. You took him from me. Gaurav is everything I could ever want in a husband, but he cannot replace Aman. Uncle and aunty did everything for me, as they did for Ankit and Sarika. But they’re not my parents.”

“So how do you feel? Aside from alone, I mean.”

“I feel angry. I feel like I’m lost. Like at the end of the day, I have no one to turn to who I can call mine.”

“You have Gaurav.”

“I had Gaurav. He’s broken off our engagement.”

“He still loves you. He still wants to marry you, Mira. Only if you let him.”

“I’m not so sure he wants to after the way I treated him. Besides, if I ever fight with Gaurav, whom do I turn to? Ideally, it would have been mummy and papa, but they’re not here, are they? You took them away from me 22 years ago.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why did you do that? We were perfectly happy the three of us. They were the best parents ever. They did everything for me. They loved me so much.”

“Yes, they did. They loved you very much, but did they love each other?”
“Of course, they did! All mummies and daddies love each other.”

“Think about it. Did you ever see your mum hugging your dad? Or giving him an affectionate kiss on the cheek? Did you see her complimenting him on what he was wearing?”

“I’m sure she did…”

“Did you ever see your dad telling your mum that he missed her? Would they ever go out without you, even if you asked them to do so?”

“No, they didn’t. But that’s because they couldn’t bear to leave me alone.”
“That might have been one of the reasons. But the main reason was that they didn’t love each other.”
“You’re lying. That’s not true.”

“It is. Your father had an affair with a colleague of his and your mother was trapped in the marriage because she was forced to marry your father. She wanted to achieve her dreams. But your grandfather had other plans for her.”

“Dad and affairs? You must be mistaken. My papa cannot have been like that.”

“You can choose whether to believe me or not. But if they hadn’t been run over by that driver 22 years ago, your idea of marriage and family would have been completely different to what it is today.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your parents would have separated as soon as you became a teenager. They would have quarrelled and your father would have divorced your mother. He would then continue with his affair, while your mum would try to achieve her dreams and raise you on her own. Of course, your father would visit – but within reason. You see, Mira, they didn’t love each other, but they loved you. They wouldn’t have stayed together for very long if it weren’t for your birth. They stayed together to give you good memories.”

Mira was speechless and in tears. Part of her didn’t believe Krishna-ji, but she knew that He was here with a purpose. After all, how many people would tell you that they’ve encountered God even once in their lifetime? Mira would be considered some sort of a saint if she ever shared this experience with anyone.

“What’s on your mind, Mira?”

“So mummy and papa stayed together because of me?”

“Yes.”

“I understand that they didn’t love each other. But even if they’d have separated, surely things with Aman and Gaurav wouldn’t have changed?”

“If you’d seen your parents argue and separate at the age of 13, would you want to marry anyone? Think about it and answer honestly. The idea of marriage would scare you, right?”

She mulled. “Yes, it would scare me. But I may have married eventually.”

“You may have. But you would always wonder when this relationship would expire. Your mind would be conditioned according to the situations you’ve faced. You would be led to believe that marriages are not meant to last forever, when in actuality, hard work and love can help sustain a marriage. Something you may not have been open to accepting if you’d seen your parents divorce.

“I’m not saying consider it lucky that your parents passed away when they did. All I’m saying is stop holding all your thoughts and feelings inside every time. Let go of your anger, Mira. Let go of all the negativity that fills you. People will come and go, but memories remain. Your parents left you with the best of memories. Cherish those as you grow in life. There are so many people concerned for you and your well-being; they’ve done everything to make you smile. You missed it all while you were holding back your thoughts. It’s time to let go, Mira.”

“I miss mummy and papa a lot.”

“I know you do. But your aunt and uncle have raised you just as your mum and dad would. Don’t you think you should appreciate that? Not a lot of people can raise other’s children as their own.”

“You’re right. I should thank them for that.”

“Your friends and your fiancé Gaurav have always been there for you. Don’t you think that by forsaking them you’re hurting them?”

“Hmm… Maybe. I should apologise to them all for my behaviour.”

“Well, I’m glad we agreed on something. It’s time for me to go now. I’ll leave you with a thought: smile a lot, laugh a lot, share your feelings and don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind. There are a lot of people who are concerned and care for you and love you unconditionally. You ought to live for them, if not for yourself. Turn over a new leaf and make a fresh start tomorrow. Tomorrow has a new purpose now. Fulfil it.”

“Thank you, Krishna-ji, for guiding me back to the light from the darkness.”

“Any time, kiddo! Buhbye!”

She smiled as he turned away from her.

“Hey, wait.. hold on a second…” Mira shouted. “You didn’t tell me why things didn’t work out with Aman…”

With a twinkle in his eye, he smiled the same naughty smile that Mira saw in his idol and said, “Let’s save that for another time, shall we? Maybe the next time you think about suicide, I’ll come and tell you all about that…!”

He’ll never change, Mira thought to herself. She woke up and looked at her phone. Slowly dialling Gaurav’s number, Mira decided to pick up the pieces of her life and start afresh.

This time, life would have a purpose.

Source of Keychain: An Airport in India

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