Monday, May 13, 2013

Love is not Enough





Fiction

How is it possible, I wonder, for a mother to ignore the signs? When it comes to being a parent, love is not enough.  One has to make sense of the sighs, decipher the silences and decode the monosyllables. I think I was a good mother. And if you ask my husband or our daughter, they would agree. I make no excuses for my lapses, but it is also true that the guilt pangs clawing my heart will stay for a long time to come. 

A note from Ananya’s teacher informed that she was bunking classes. ‘She will have to take extra classes after school to cope with the syllabus.’
Ananya, our first-born turned fourteen last year. Mood swings came with the territory. She became a brooder, immersed in books and cocooned in music. Any attempt to share thoughts met with sighs and groans. She seemed to have developed a knack of appearing to listen while she was lost in her world. Worse, she was neglecting studies and there were moments when I caught her looking vacuously at her text books. 

That day, she kept avoiding my gaze and didn’t quite finish her dinner. I peeped into her room. Slouched on her bed, she was lost in a novel. 
‘Ananya… Why aren’t you eating?’
I wondered if I was talking to a wall.
I entered her room, snatched the novel and flung it on the bed. ‘No novels before mid-term. Finish your food. And take out your chemistry book. You nearly flunked this term.’
In a strange way, she looked vulnerable when she looked at me for a brief moment.
‘What is it?’
‘I am not going to school tomorrow.’
‘But why?’
‘I don’t want to go,’ she said defiantly. ‘That’s why.’ 

I walked out leaving behind silence. It was so easy to love my girl when she was a kid. Time was when she shared everything when it came to which dress to wear, how to style her hair, what movies to watch or which cookies to bake. My husband said it was normal for teens to find solace in solitude. I believed him. 

In the following weeks, my girl became a stranger to me. We were drifting apart for reasons beyond comprehension.  I would be lying if I said that I made serious attempts to know what she was going through. Her appetite diminished, and I blamed it on her fetish for a slim figure. She trudged towards the bus stop, and I dismissed it as her revulsion for studies. She continued talking to her friend in hushed tones, and I thought it was girly gossip. 

A day prior to the parent-teacher meet, I received a call from Ananya’s class mate. ‘Did you read the paper aunty? He’s gone. Finally.’ 

I scanned the newspaper with a pounding heart. The small snippet on the second page connected the dots. Suddenly I could trace my series of lapses.

A case of molestation was registered against a fifty year old teacher. The chain of exploitation began soon after he was appointed as the chemistry teacher at a reputed school…

When I entered my daughter’s room she was talking to her friend. Her shoulders were shaking mildly. I could sense that she was sobbing. She saw the paper in my hand, turned her head and looked at me. When our eyes met, I could sense both - her anguish and her relief. She leaned towards me hesitatingly. As I embraced her, she hugged me tightly.  It was as if she wanted to hold me forever. 



 (This is a contest entry for Indiblogger Colgate Total Contest - My Healthy Speak Blog.)

Moral of the story - Do not ignore the signs whether it is bleeding gums or simmering emotions.
(Image Courtesy: Google Images lifefamilyeducation.com)


68 comments:

  1. Wow! That was so real! ATB for the contest.

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  2. It is indeed a challenge to raise teenagers and to make them confident young people.. All the best for your contest.

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  3. Best of luck for the contest. Really haunting read.

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    1. Thank you Harish. It's been a long time.

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  4. and that truly kills a mother -- that she wasn't able to understand and help with her child's angst. Nicely written and all the best!

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  5. Very pertinent post, Alka and really well written too.
    Good luck with the contest!

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    1. Thank you Corinne. Coming from you it means a lot.

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  6. Despite our best efforts we sometimes fail to protect the children from abuse. A harsh reality for many.

    All the best for the contest, Alka!

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    1. Thank you Purba. This contest provided an opportunity to share this story.

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  7. Nice story! Though in your case the teacher caught but in real sense it's still a question mark how can we stop this molestation particularly when they are teenage, when they dont wanna hurt their newly built ego.

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  8. This is a nightmare for any mother. Sad and a grim reality for so many.
    Good luck for the contest, Alka :)

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  9. Nightmare and harsh reality which is so difficult to imagine! Best of luck for the contest!

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  10. superb story.. this is gonna be a winner. trust me.

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    1. Coming from you, I have already won. Thank you Roshan.

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  11. Alka this is very gripping story . Poor child!! The Chemistry teacher, a brute that he was, deserved to be hanged! Wish you all the best for the contest.

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    1. Thank you for reading Ma. And hugs for your wishes.

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  12. This was a great first effort Alka. You should write more stories.
    All the best for the contest.

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  13. Beautifully woven words to narrate a sensitive tale.

    Best wishes for the contest.

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  14. A mother can always identify the signs in her child. But sometimes, the causes of distress are so unexpected that even a mother cannot diagnose the reason for her child's distress. This story clearly shows how there can be much more than what meets the eye when a child is not his or her usual self.

    Alka Ma'am, I think this story not only needs to be sent to all schools but also all parents need to read this to be able to recognize signs which are ever so subtle. This needs to be spread around as much as possible. Wonderfully written !

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    1. Thank you Shobhit, you made my day. This is my first attempt at short fiction. And the story remains close to my heart as it has shades of reality from my life.

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  15. My.. I have goosebumps. Raising kids is tough in today's age especially. It is a tight rope walk, be a friend, be a mentor and yet discipline your child, so tough.
    www.bbsearchingself.wordpress.com

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    1. Bhagyashree,sometimes we get caught up in other things and a minor lapse can leave indelible scars.
      Thank you for liking.

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  16. Well done !Winning or not winning at contest...immaterial!Continue writing,u r really good my dear :)So proud of u !

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    1. True Shalini. I just had to share this story. This contest about ignoring the signs was a suitable platform.
      Thank you for the kind words.

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  17. So real that one felt empathetic! Very, very nicely written.

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  18. Really true and happens at many places. You put it all together so well. My god..Scared to think when my kids get into teens...good luck for the contest.

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  19. Nicely written, Alka! At first, even I thought it was the regular teenage anguish.

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  20. Truly a super post.
    My best wishes

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  21. My daughter has just reached that age of sixteen.And believe me,it sends shudders up my spine if she ever misses my call and takes a bit too long to pick her cell phone when she is out..

    Very well written piece.All the best Alka..

    A year back I had scribbled this piece on my daughter Khyatee..Pliss to read.

    http://rajeshthakkar.blogspot.in/2012/01/how-times-flymy-daughter-khyatee.html

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  22. Brilliant! This girl was damn lucky btw...my stomach had dropped thinking what will happen with her, these perverts should be 'isolated' or they just move cities and go join another school/college/institution and continue with their evil ways.

    All the best for the contest...n thanks for info (i too will participate:))

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    1. Thanks, Vinaya. Please do participate and send me the link for your entry.
      Good Luck.

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  23. wow! this was quite unnerving. succinct yet strong

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  25. Great post Alka and how children yearn for parents love. I feel communication is very important.
    Cheerz
    Vishal

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    1. Yes, communication is the key. Thank you for spending time here.

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  26. Entirely y pleasure, Alka and learning from ur amazing posts:)

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    1. :) Do send me your blog link. All I get is your google plus profile.

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  27. beautifully scribbled!
    All the best

    Jasmeet
    http://emotestar.blogspot.com

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  28. Children always want Parent's love. Sometimes, they just don't know how to communicate it rightly! Beautifully written Alka! Good luck with the contest!

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    1. Yes, a minor communication gap can lead to a major problem. Thank you for reading.

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  29. Great entry Alka. Good luck with the contest.

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    1. Really? Coming from a published author, I am delighted. Thanks.

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  31. A friend of mine went through something as disgusting during her school days. I met her in college and with the passage of time, she opened up to tell her story. I didn't know what to say after she narrated me the incident. To make it worse, that person who taught her at school was a relative.

    Reading the newspaper one can not help but get the feeling that such activities are committed more by those who are.... expected to be "people of trust". Teachers, relatives and fathers and brothers. A child, helpless and inarticulate, has nowhere to go.

    What can we do about it, is the question. For one, we can make the child believe in her parents. That they will not dismiss her complaint on the face. What do you think ?

    Goodluck with the competition, however belated.

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    1. Your wishes are special. You are my one and only critique who means well. Thank you.

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  32. So nicely written alka !
    I didnt expect the ending :( seriously CSA is a crime which cringes me
    I wish many who do it get punished
    Good lck with contest.
    My post if interested :) http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.in/2013/06/obesity-biggest-adversity.html

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    1. Thank you. I almost read all your posts.

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  33. A stark story of the times we live in Alka ...hope I will never get to see this day with my kids

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    1. This should not happen to any parent or any child. Thank you Sridevi, I guess this is your first visit here.

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