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Fiction Happy

POSITIVITY IN NEGETIVITY

   Erika stood in front of the mirror. She had grown thin and pale. There were dark circles under her eyes . She had become a shadow of her past self. She picked up the hair brush and passed it through her  hair . Strands of hair  stuck to the bristles of the brush . She looked at them with unbelieving eyes . She saw more of them on her pillow, when she woke up the next morning . This had become a regular feature .        

   One day , while combing her hair , she saw a big bald patch on her head . Erika was in tears . She had just recovered from a life threatening illness and was on medicines . 

   The problem was increasing at an alarming rate . She did everything in her competence to control the situation , but in vain . No oil , shampoo or home remedies recommended by friends or Google worked.  Erika now decided to see a doctor . 

   " This is severe alopecia . This is the after effects of the medicines that you have for your illness " said the doctor , reading her report . 

Erika regularly went for her sittings to the clinic and followed the doctor's advice religiously.

        Erika entered the restaurant with her family. She was wearing a new dress, which she had got as her birthday gift . She wore a matching bandana to complete her stylish looks . She was also wearing a mask which she had made herself . It complimented her blue dress ..

    It was after quite a long time that she was enjoying a quiet birthday dinner with her family at a cosy little restaurant. The ambiance and the food was wonderful.The lockdown due to the pandemic had played a spoilsport. She couldn't invite her friends, but pulkit made it quite sure that she had a memorable day .So he had decided to take her out for dinner 

"Thanks for the wonderful time and party." said Erika. 

'I am happy you liked it, "said pulkit , her husband.

    As Erika was having her favourite tomato soup, she could hear a few murmurs which soon turned into giggles . 

       Erika began to feel uncomfortable as she knew she was the cause of the jeering at the adjacent table . 

Trying to control her tears , she said, " Let's go home , please . I am not feeling well."

" But we haven't finished our dinner yet . What about the food that we have ordered?"

 '' Either cancel it or get it packed. "

Sensing the reason for her sudden decision to go home, pulkit talked to the manager . They were shifted to the room meant for the staff of the restaurant . 

Pulkit reminded Erika of her New year resolutions. " You need to be tough and ignore all negetive people around you ."

Erika blew the candles and cut her birthday cake . The restaurant staff and guests also wished her , 'Happy Birthday. ' However much she tried to be her normal self, she was screaming inside .

      Facing her clients at the bank where she worked , the passers by and the co passengers in the metro was a far more unnerving. and challenging job than the alopecia itself. The unsolicited advice of acquaintances and neighbours was unnerving. They kept reminding her to be careful ,as being a cancer survivor she was a vulnerable bate for the virus . She tried to bear it all with a smiling face .Her family , close friends and bank staff were very supportive .

   It was Saturday . Being a half day and Monday being a gazatted holiday  , the bank was packed with customers . There was a long queue at Erika's counter . Erika was busy . The mask was making it difficult for her to breathe . But she braved it all . The cup of tea that the peon had left on her table had gone cold . 

 "Good morning, Erika . How are you?" 

It was a familiar voice . Erika looked up from the computer. It was her neighbour , Mr. Singh . 

"Nameste uncle . I am doing good . How can I help you?"

" I want to open a joint account with my wife . Can you please help me ?"

" Sure uncle . Please sit . Where is auntie?" 

Soon they were joined by a plump lady . Erika finished the formalities soon. 

" Erika ,do you mind if I say something to you?"

"Sure uncle , go ahead. "

" I am really happy to see you back here . It had been really hard for all of you ." 

Erika listened with her head bent and eyes glued to the computer . This was not anything new for her . She had got used to all those unwanted advice ..

" I know someone who has the cure for your problem. " Erika looked at the piece of paper he had given her . There was an address and phone number written on it. 

" Massage this oil on your head everyday for a month. It will do wonders . It is tried and tested ." 

Erika still had her eyes fixed to the computer . 

"Okay Erika , thank you for your help.  "

" Bye . Take care. This is a very difficult time for you . It would have been better if you took leave this year ." 

Erika excused herself and went to the washroom .

The couple had left. 

. Erika's throat was choked .

The computer screen was hazy. 

  "Excuse me , I will be back in a moment. "  

Erika went to the washroom and splashed cool water on her face . Soon she was back to her seat ,as if nothing had happened . 

"Erika ,I am proud of you . The way you tackled the situation was commendable ,"said Mr.Rastogi , the

 branch manager of the bank, when she was leaving for home . 

    Erika often wondered what else she could do with all her limitations ..Her bald patchy pate scared her everytime she looked at herself in the mirror or the phone to take a selfie. She had even dreaded going to the parlour for the fear of being jeered at . She had even begun to avoid large social , family and religious functions . Now the pandemic was adding to the long list of worries and unwarranted advices .

    Sometimes the compliments she got to hear during the occasional gatherings she attended, " How brave you are" , weren't quite true for Erika . She did have her weak moments of depression, doubts , anger and anxiety . She would scream and cry in despair , in the privacy of her room or washroom at times . Writing and listening to old film songs gave her some solace .

    The trips she had undertaken with her family  , in the past , came as well earned moments for her . She remembered how she used to feel excited and look up the internet and read about the places that were in her itinerary of visit . She always enjoyed traveling and seeing places . It helped her to feel rejuvenated , be close to nature and do what she wanted . The little virus has put an end to that.

 '' I wish to write a traveloque some day ," she said to herself, flipping through the pictures of her various trips , she had so meticulously arranged and maintained in the albums. " I won't let my past reflect into my present". 

   It felt great to reconnect with  her family , relatives and friends on Zoom . She was genuinely happy . There was no feeling of inhibition for her appearance . She felt like a free bird . 

 Happiness is doing what you enjoy ..... She wrote in her little personal diary . I am positive things will become better soon and everything will be normal as before ." 

   That morning as she wore her new wig , she felt her heart fluttering . Her hands were shaking . She looked at herself in the mirror . 

" Will my friends and colleagues accept this ?" After taking a few selfies, she rushed out to catch the metro . To avoid unwanted glares , she had covered her head with a stole . Being winter time , to her relief, no one suspected the real reason .

  The day in the bank went off normally , except for a few sly looks which she ignored.

 "Wow! That wig really suits you" , said Mrs . Malhotra , while having lunch. 

"Thank you ma'm' , said Erika smiling.

Soon a series of compliments followed . Erika felt confident and positive . She had to restore to wearing a wig after all the treatments to regain her crowning glory had failed. 

      During one of her many trips , she had chanced upon a quotation on the walls of a museum . 

" I cried when I had no shoes

But I stopped crying when I saw a man without legs.

Life is full of blessings 

Sometimes we don't value them "

   She also remembered the interview of the famous dancer , Sudha Chandran on TV where she spoke about her life journey , her love for dance and then the near fatal accident which changed her life. But with sheer grit determination and a prosthetic jaipur leg , she returned to the stage . 

  Erika was now determined to stop thinking too much about her own condition , which she felt was far more blessed .

  I won't let it get better of me ,  she scribbled in her diary. 

Erika pledged to herself to look at life in a new perspective from now ." I promise

Today will be better than yesterday 

But tomorrow will be the best " , she wrote.

  Erika was learning to live and celebrate life instead of cribbing and complaining . She was grateful to God for whom she could see the rising Sun each new day and for showing her that there is light on the other side of the dark tunnel . While penning down her thoughts ,she wrote ," I accord a warm gratitude to all those who have helped me to face this difficult time positively ."

   Erika was always fond of baking , travelling and writing since childhood .Now she decided to use her hobbies to broaden her horizon and fulfill her dreams and aspirations. The lockdown was the time to re invent herself . 

     She started her own Utube channel , ' 'Positivity in negetivity' , where she shared stories and ways  to beat depression, anxiety , sadness and negativity . 

     She was ecstatic when a few of her poems and stories were published in an anthology . She had even become a member of a few food and writing groups to learn new skills . 

" The journey has started! Congratulations!" said pulkit.

    Congratulations Erika ! So happy for you , messaged Ms. Malhotra. 

" Awesome 👍! Such a wonderful story " wrote Revati in her timeline of the facebook. 

There was a flood of congratulatory messages from her friends and relatives.

This seemed to be the beginning of a new chapter in her life .It was always her cherished dream to be a published author . 

Her first book which she had written during the lockdown , 'positivity in negetivity ', had been published . 

Next day Erika treated her colleagues to a delicious chocolate cake that she had baked especially for them . 

 . MOUSUMI BISWAS

January 02, 2021 09:32

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