Drama Fiction Inspirational

The best birthday gift 

    Priti picked up her phone to check out on her mails and messages . She deleted the unnecessary ones . A notification showed a friend request from one Sambhavi Shibu of ' Friends NGO ' . Priti ignored it . But the name had struck a chord somewhere. It was too familiar. Out of curiosity Priti opened the profile page . Yes , it was Sambhavi memsaab , her previous employer , her friend and guide . Priti accepted her friend request and soon they were chatting away .  She had almost lost track of time . The door bell rang . It was her daughter, Sugandha. She had returned from college.

     "Ok mam , bye . I'll call you later . Please come over to my place . Hope to see you soon ." Next week they met up at the coffee shop .

     Tears welled up Priti's eyes . She was meeting her savior after a long time . 

The dark clouds of her past collected in Priti's mind . 

       Priti was always a bright and bubbly young girl in school . She was also a good singer . She had participated in many school competitions and won prizes . 

     She  had just appeared for her higher secondary exams and was awaiting her results . She and her best friend, Neha were planning to enroll for graduation now . She was always very excited about going to college. Like all teenagers, she had big dreams. 

    " Priti , he is a nice boy and is a ward boy in a private hospital . He lives with his parents . They will look after you well . Your uncle has got this alliance . He knows the boy and his family well .  "

    "But papa , I don't want to get married now . I want to go to college and do my graduation. Moreover I am still a minor. It's against the law ."

    " Don't try to preach me and tell me about laws . What will you do with all your studies ? Always remember , you are a girl . Sooner or later you will have to marry and bear children . How long will you be a burden on me ? "

   Tears rolled down her cheeks . Her own father felt that she was a liability on him . Even her mother didn't protest .  She knew how stubborn her husband was and wouldn't budge from his decision . She was totally helpless .

     " Priti , your father is right . " 

      " But amma , you know my wish . "

     " You can study after marriage if your husband and in-laws allow." 

Priti's dreams of going to college came crashing down.

     From the very beginning Priti had entered her marital home with a man almost double her age , it was a relationship filled with abuse and violence . She was beaten , battered  and tortured by her husband and in-laws for getting insufficient dowry  . Mohan's persistent alcoholism and then the birth of her daughter made matters worse for her. 

     Mohan had lost his job . He would vent  his frustration on Priti . He even snatched away the little money she was earning as a house maid or stitching clothes for her neighbours  to supplement the family income . 

     She was the sole bread earner of the family . But her woes didn't end . 

    " Leave that sewing machine and cook dinner for me. " It was Mohan in inebriated condition . He flung a plate at her . She ran out of the one room shackle , holding her profousely bleeding head . 

Next day she came to work at Sambhavi's place with a bandage on her head.

""Priti, how did you hurt your head ?" , asked Sambhavi .

"And what are these bruises on your cheeks ? " 

Priti kept washing the dishes quietly. 

" Priti , I am asking you something. Why don't you answer ?"

Priti broke down , clinging to Sambhavi . 

" My Gosh ! You are burning with fever , Priti . Let's go to the doctor . " 

" Tell me what happened . Don't be scared "

"That brute hit me again today because I told him not to waste money on drinking and gambling. "

" Did I say anything wrong." Priti was crying inconsolably now. 

"Not at all" . Sambhavi gave her a warm hug and tried to consol her . 

''Priti , please tell me your problem''

" Sambhavi mam , I just can't take it anymore. This  has become a regular affair . He does not even show mercy on Munni . Today he slapped her just because she wanted to play with him .Her voice was choked . Soon she was crying inconsolably .

Priti showed Sambhavi the bruises on her neck and shoulders . Sambhavi could feel her flesh cringe at the sight of the  bruised skin . She was determined to bail Priti out of the hell and rescue her and her daughter from her barbarian husband and in-laws at all costs.

Sambhavi called up her friend Radhika and told her about priti .

" Priti , please reach this address tomorrow at 9am . I have a job for you. 

 " Thank you mam . I accept your offer" . Priti felt her dreams coming true. She just couldn't believe her luck.

Sambhavi helped Priti to connect to Radhika and her NGO which rescued physically, emotionally and mentally abused women . Together they all helped priti to legally divorce her abusive and alcoholic husband . 

Sambhavi ma'am and the NGO fulfilled Priti's dreams. She completed her graduation through distant education with flying colours . She began  teaching the under privileged children and also worked as a councellor for abused women .

        Priti completed her teachers training course from a reputed university . 

She began working in a private school as a primary teacher . By her perseverance , discipline and hard work she soon rose to the position of the principal of the school.

Her daughter , Sughandha , was as bright as her mother. She excelled not only in studies but also in extra curricular activities .

     Priti felt a great sense of pride and achievement when the anchor announced , " The Best Women Empowerment Award of the year goes to Ms Sugandha ." 

" Congratulations Priti and Sugandha . And Happy Birthday Priti . This calls for a double party."  I am so proud to see that you have instilled all your values in your daughter .", said Sambhavi , clapping her hands.

" Thank you Sugandha mam . I am really indebted to you . All this could happen just because of you . You helped me get back to my track and to get a job which I had least expected . " 

"Happy birthday mom !I am proud of you . I dedicate this  award to you . Inspite of your hardships you didn't break . You have brought me up as a strong person just like you . I will never let you down" . 

" Thank you sambhavi mam and Sugandha . This is the best birthday gift anyone can ever get ."

Mousumi Biswas

December 12, 2020 04:56

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