Author’s note: This is the continuation of 'In Remembrance'
Throughout the journey on the airplane, Nadia sat back and dissolved into her thoughts.
It was nearly December, the month when her relatives got together at a gathering. Once a year, they met at a commonplace as a vast family. This had been long-standing tradition, to help keep everyone in touch, seeing that they were spread all across the globe.
Not everyone came in person, of course. If there was anything in their way, they would make a virtual appearance. Nadia had kept a constant record of attending each gathering, but this year, she wouldn’t be able to make it.
A virtual call wouldn’t do any harm, she told herself. Nothing special happened on the get-together, anyway. Everyone had dinner together and exchanged stories. She, on the other hand, would try to steer away from the crowd as soon as possible. She had never enjoyed talking around too many people.
Her twin sister, Mayra, had promised to come and see her at the airport. They lived together with their family now, but when they were children, they were more like pen pals than sisters. Mayra had gone to live abroad when they were out of preschool. Her parents had the opportunity to send one of them abroad when they were children. Not both.
Nadia had never liked the arrangement. She had always been in awe of twins who lived together.
Nadia scanned the surroundings of the airport lobby. Mayra was nowhere. Only scores of strangers milling about everywhere. Sighing, she took her luggage and began moving towards the exit. She wouldn’t have been surprised if Mayra had changed her mind.
A hand placed on her shoulder made her jump. She gave a quick turn and saw two eyes staring at her.
“Mayra,” She said, looking at the person behind her, “you never seem to grow up.”
“Isn’t that what I always want?” her twin sister quickened her pace and was now walking right beside Nadia.
“Really.” Nadia said, smiling. She felt like Mayra’s older sister, even though they were twins. Mayra started going non-stop with questions and answers. Nadia tried answering as briefly as she could. She was more intent on reaching home.
“It’s been changed, you know.” Mayra said, looking her straight in the eye.
“The get-together of our family.” Mayra’s expression was dry, “They’ve moved it a fortnight early.”
Nadia sensed something queer about that news. Why would they change the date? And why hadn’t she been intimated about it before?
“It’s the same.” She said, lying through her teeth, “Anyway, I shall attend it on video call so it won’t matter.”
* * *
A few days later saw Nadia with her phone, a part of the traditional family dinner even though she was hundreds of miles away. If she did not dislike crowds so much, she would have missed being there. Almost.
“Now,” began Nadia’s grandfather, the senior most member of their family, “It’s been decades. Several decades since my grandfather established our prosperous business.”
Silence befell the room.
“He was a young lad then, looking for something different.” He continued, “It all started in a ragged shed with barely any essentials, but now has evolved into an industry with vast power. This would never have come without our family’s hard work.
“Fifty years has passed, since he passed the business down to me. I am aware I cannot keep running it forever. This is the day when I shall hand it over to one of my grandchildren, as the tradition requires.”
An uncomfortable feeling rose inside Nadia. She knew all to soon what this was about.
“Nadia Edward Ellis.” Said her grandfather, solemn and staid, “I would like to hand over this business to you.”
Nadia felt numb. Yes. She had expected this. As the oldest in her generation, this would naturally come down to her.
She felt a rush of pride. She, to be the heir of a tremendous amount of authority and fortune. She, to continue doing what her forefathers had done all these years.
She flushed under envious looks, not knowing what to say: “I-”
Is this what you really want to do?
That sudden question from deep inside startled her. She hadn’t expected a part of her to interrogate her own actions. Her voice faltered, and she stopped. Everyone continued to stare at her as she attempted to corner her thoughts.
To be honest, being in charge of a huge manufacturing unit had never caught her fancy. True, it was a tradition that had been passed through generations and was something to be proud of.
But Nadia realized she was not the person to continue it.
She understood why.
She had always preferred being in charge of her own work, rather than a player on the field of a business which was not her own. Agreeing to be a part of this meant giving up the job she was currently working at.
It meant waving farewell to all her dreams for the future. It meant she, for the next fifty years, would have to shoulder the burden and responsibility of this business.
Did she really want that?
No, she didn’t.
She looked at Mayra. Her sister seemed envious, almost green-faced. She avoided her gaze, as if she would never speak to her again.
She was interested, one hundred percent. Nadia was certain she would do better than her in that field, if given the chance.
“I know it is a great honor.” Nadia began, trying to be calm, “But I’m afraid, I would rather not take it.” The moment those words were out of her mouth, she regretted it. Did they sound too harsh? Would it offend her grandfather, who had given her the chance to pursue this career?
No. Those were only doubts flitting across in her mind. Distractions. She had voiced what she felt, and this was in the interest of the entire business. What was better? Her running it with no motivation, or Mayra taking control of it with incentive?
* * *
“Why did you do that?” Mayra asked incredulously, “That was a marvelous opportunity! I would have taken it if I was you!”
“All is not lost, Mayra.” Nadia said, “According to the tradition, as I am not continuing it, I have the power to hand this business over to one of the family members.”
Mayra looked disbelieving.
A smile spread on Mayra’s face as Nadia said: “Pleased to talk to you, Mayra Edward Ellis, the new heir to the family business.”
She felt a great weight being lifted off her shoulders.