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Lalitha Balasubramanian





Sheila was 50. God had been very kind to her. She had a doting husband, two strapping young sons, both intelligent and well mannered, who were her pride and joy. They were now grown up and ready to leave the shelter of their parents and home. She did not grudge them that. After all they had to make a future for themselves. Her elder son, Shyam, a computer engineer by profession was employed with a multinational firm. The company bosses now wanted him to take up a senior level posting in their head office in London. Shyam had been naturally thrilled and excited about his impending departure. The company had arranged for his visa and work permits. Sheila fondly recollected the way he had dragged her along with him for every purchase. The shopping spree though tiring had been enjoyable while it lasted. Her husband Arun too had lovingly indulged them. Shyam then left for the new posting with their blessings. His departure though left a void in Sheila's heart.

She was just getting used to Shyam's absence from her home, when Amar, her younger son, wanted to proceed to the U.S.A. for his further studies. Amar had completed his medical degree and the required internship. Apparently, he wanted to specialize in Neurology and had been applying for admission into post graduate courses in various universities. His application had been accepted by a reputed University in Chicago. Amar broke this news to his parents excitedly. Seeing the bubbling enthusiasm in his eyes, Sheila had not had the heart to stop him. After all, he was going to study further, and as she knew very well, the scope for specialized surgeons was immense. Amar too packed his bags and left.

The boys were very affectionate and would keep in contact either through email or through voice chats every day. However their departure one after the other within a span of six months had left a huge void in Sheila's life. She was depressed and it showed.

Arun could understand her predicament. Sheila had been a bright student and was a post graduate in mass communication. After working successfully in a reputed advertising agency for three years, she had willingly given up her lucrative job when she married Arun.

When her children were born, she had completely devoted her time and energy to their welfare. Her whole life had revolved around her two sons, their studies, their extra curricular activities, their expectations and their requirements. The void created by their departure was not unexpected. But Arun had not expected her to fall into depression. After a week of unsuccessful attempts at cajoling and drawing her out of her self inflicted shell, Arun decided that enough was enough.

He started inviting his friends home. Sheila was forced to get out of her reveries and greet them. It was during one of these forced socializations that Arun's friend, Navin, casually mentioned that there was a musical nite that evening and the organizers, of whom he was one, were left in the lurch by the anchor of the programme. He went on to say that it was not the Anchor's fault because she had suddenly developed a slip disc. The doctors had advised her complete bed rest for three weeks.


However the predicament that the organizers found themselves in was unenviable. To add to the confusion there seemed to be no one willing to take on the compering assignment in the last minute without any preparation. Navin seemed to be really worried. Sheila felt sorry for him. Without thinking twice, she offered to anchor the programme. Arun was dumbfounded. However it suddenly struck him that Sheila was showing interest in something all of a sudden. Navin was all smiles. Bhabhi, you are a Godsend he exclaimed and at once rang up his fellow organizers and asked them to fax the information about the artists immediately.

Within a few minutes Sheila was going through the faxed information in the car. Navin was driving them straight to the auditorium. As soon as they reached, three members of the organizing committee were waiting ready to receive them. They thanked her profusely for coming to their aid so spontaneously.

Sheila went on stage. There was no fear in her mind as she approached the mike. Her years in the advertising agency had taught her poise and self confidence. She spoke with élan and even managed to add a few anecdotes about the Artists, which drew the interest of the audience. The programme went off very well, and the organizers made a special mention of their appreciation for her willingness to take on an assignment in the last minute and doing such a wonderful job of it.

As they drove home in the silence of the night, she spoke to Arun about her years of training in Carnatic classical music, her natural curiosity about the performing Artists which had made her read up a lot on their lives and interests and the anecdotes which were simply pieces of information stored somewhere in the recesses of her brain.
Arun gazed at her with respect. Suddenly it struck him that Sheila was back to being normal. Arun silently thanked Navin.

Just then, the telephone rang. It was Navin. He was requesting her to accept the next assignment as an Anchor for their forthcoming music festival series. Arun accepted wholeheartedly on her behalf as he realized that this was what his Sheila needed, an awakening of sorts, a new interest.



Lalitha Balasubramanian Shares...


I am a native of Mumbai, India. I have seen many friends who are affected by loneliness and depression after their children leave them and go in search of greener pasteurs. This inspired me to write this piece of fiction and share with you the necessity for women to find some avenue to divert their attention and use their time fruitfully and derive satisfaction and enjoyment in their lives. 


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