The cacophony of sounds outside was a sharp contrast to the uncomfortable silence inside the room.
But that was just a pause in what had been a heated argument amongst the four people sitting in the room. It would be incorrect to call it an argument or a discussion. It looked more like an interrogation. An interrogation of the twenty two year old girl in the room, Sheila.
“You know what I’m saying is not unheard of, grandma! This is the twenty first Century and believe it or not, people do have the option to live their own life and to make their own choices now!”, Sheila tried convincing her silver haired grandma, for the hundredth time.
“That is not how you talk to your elders Sheila! I realise my mistake now, for sending you abroad to study. I had thought that my daughter would be different from the other kids. We would give her all the freedom she wanted, so that she could pursue her dreams and value her traditions both at the same time. How wrong I was.”, Sheila’s mother said, a tad too dramatically.
“I know you youngsters have all these ideas about freedom of choice and paving your own way in life. But you need to heed my words child. Nothing good will come of this decision. If nothing else, give some importance to the years of experience I have over you. I have seen the world and the world is not an easy place.”, her grandma continued. Her silver hair complemented her crisp white cotton saree.
Grandma dressed as a widow, in all white and no jewellery except for the two diamond studs in her ears, that had been the last present from grandpa to her, before he passed away. But she always looked elegant and regal, even with her minimalistic wardrobe. She had moved in with Sheila’s mom and dad when grandpa had passed, to evade her loneliness and to help Sheila’s mom raising Sheila, because both her parents worked long hours.
Grandma was Sheila’s best friend and her confidant, until last week. When she had confided to her about her plans, thinking she would surely get grandma’s blessings, since grandma was the coolest grandparent and she could use her to convince her parents in turn. But she had no idea that grandma would rat her out and be so against her decision. She just couldn’t get her head around it!
“Just give me one logical reason why I shouldn’t do this, mom and I’ll think about it.”
That was when the interrogation had come to an uncomfortable pause, which was broken, when the last person in the room, Sheila’s dad, spoke up.
“Leave if you want to. But remember this, no girl in our family has taken this path. Our family has never restricted the children of the house, be it a girl or a boy, from voicing their opinions, from learning and acting on their decisions. But we have never had anyone take the path you have decided to go on. Ours is a respectable family and we have all the luxury in the world, which other people can only dream about. Yet, if it is your decision to throw away all of this and chase your obsession, then you can go ahead. But don’t come back until you’ve given it your all. You might be the first rebel in the house, but you will not be the first failure in this house.”
With that, he looked at his wife and mother in law, and all the three women in the room realised that the discussion was over. Sheila packed her bags that night, and moved out, as planned.
A year later…
“Grandma? Is that you? Sheila here. I…how are you grandma?”, Sheila was nervous as she dialled the number from her home for the first time in a year. She had been asked never to reach out to them because of her decision, but this was a big news and she couldn’t help herself from calling up her grandma and share this with her.
She could only hear the static crackle of the phone on the other end.
“Grandma? Please say something? I know you must be mad at me..but, I have called because I have something important to tell you.”, Sheila tried again.
She looked at her partner Diya, who looked as beautiful and radiant as the first time she had laid eyes on her and fallen for her. And then she sighed, shook her head and disconnected the call.
Sheila had met Diya during one of the inter college festivals. If she had any doubt regarding her sexuality earlier, she had been convinced after meeting Diya, that she just couldn’t love boys the way she felt for Diya. But no one in her family had been a lesbian. They came from a respectable family. But she had hoped that grandma would understand. Since grandma had told her, just a few years back, about her own story. About a love that was left unrequited. About how she had been forced to marry a man years older to her, when her own mother had found out grandma confessing to her that she thought her best friend was the most beautiful girl she knew, and that she intended to marry her one day. Sheila thought grandma would understand when she would tell her about Diya. But instead…
“I don’t think they’ll ever forgive me, Diya. I really wanted to share my news with grandma. I had hoped that she would’ve been there to bless our baby and see her and love her just like she did with me”, Sheila choked out a sob.
She didn’t regret her decision of moving out her house to be with Diya. They had built a home for themselves and were going to be parents through a planned IVF. Sheila was going to become a mom any day now and for the first time in years, she missed grandma terribly. It could be all the pregnancy hormones, but it didn’t lessen the pain of not having her around.
A week later, Sheila was holding a wailing pink baby girl in her arms. They named her Aisha. They were parents and they couldn’t believe their luck!
Sheila was alone, nursing her baby in the nursery, when she heard the door open.
“Diya, is that you? You’re home early today.”
“I have a surprise for you Sheila”, Diya replied back.
And then, she opened the door, to reveal my angel in white, walk in.