Twentieth -.1.8

Recap: Nandita and Kunal meet and he tells her that he wants to marry her for the sake of their kids. Nandita tries to deny him marriage by asking various questions and making excuses. She feels shattered after hearing what Kunal had lost on Twentieth. Next morning, she tells everything to B Mom and both of them get emotional.

Few days passed by, there was no communication between Kunal and Nandita. Kunal had anticipated Nandita’s answer as NO and therefore he never called her or texted her. He decided to go with the tide. Nandita kept contemplating about it but always ended up in confusing herself a tad much.

One day around 11.30, Nandita received an email from HR on her Outlook that the whole office has to gather in the office cafeteria at 5 pm for a CSR appreciation program.

At 5, the whole office gathered in the cafeteria.

“Good evening everyone!” Rohan from the HR department greeted everyone on the floor.

“I thank you all for joining us today for this CSR appreciation program. The person for this honour has been selected by our respective HR Head Mr. Raghav Jha. And this honour has been given to Ms. Smriti Kavikar from our Accounts team. So I’d like to request Ms. Smriti Kavikar to come forward and share her CSR story.”

“Ms. Smriti Kavikar, please come forward!”

And a forty plus; petite; spectacled lady came out from the crowd and joined Rohan and everybody applauded for Smriti.

She smiled briefly when Rohan handed over the mike to her. Feeling shy, she looked at the faces around her and started speaking in a low voice “Good evening everyone. I want to thank Raghav Sir for recognizing my small deed as so big and giving me this appreciation. Thank you very much sir.” She looked at the HR Head and he acknowledged it with a nod and smile.

“So…. The story that all of you are waiting to hear started in January last year when I hired my current maid Lata at my residence. She takes complete care of all the household activities like cooking, cleaning, dusting, dishwashing etc… So if she goes on leave, you can imagine how much I suffer!” everyone laughed on her last sentence.

“Lata used to take 2 days continuous leave approximately in the mid of every month. Initially I did not notice this but when it came to my mind that there is a particular phase when she goes on leave I decided to inquire it with her as to whether it is a plain guess in my mind or she does have a serious reason behind it?” Smriti said and looked at everyone.

“So on a Sunday I inquired this with her when she was doing the dishwashing. Initially she hesitated to answer but her eyes expressed shyness why she is not telling me the answer. I again tried and asked her very politely about the reason why she takes 2 days continuous leave every month….. The reason that she told me was the most obvious reason all of you can guess, mainly the females standing here…. It was her menstrual cycle that refrained from coming to work…… She told me that for the first two days she gets a heavy leakage and has to bear a lot of pain and has to change the cloth at least five times a day which is not possible if she heads out to work. She told me that once she had blood spots on her saree while she was working which the owner of the house came across by chance…… and then his behaviour towards her changed altogether. She said that the man used to come near her and touch her purposefully and his eyes would clearly express the filth in his mind. So as a precaution, not only she left working in that house but also started taking leaves for the first two days of her periods…. She said she stays at home.”

“I heard her out and told her that she should not worry about this anymore and I promised to give her money to buy sanitary napkins. Also I handed over a pain killer medicine to her so that she does not suffer more pain because of the physical exercise that she puts in while working from one house to another. She was grateful when I gave her the money and the meds.”

“But in the same month, she took leaves again for two days during the same time in the month. Upon her coming back, I asked her about her leaves and she told me that her mother in law was unwell and hospitalized therefore she was looking after her. I marked her absent on the calendar just to make sure that her reason was true and not what I was thinking.”

“But again, in the next month she took two continuous leaves just on a difference of two days from the previous month. So I understood the real picture and when she came back to work on her day 3, I asked her about her absence.” Smriti paused.

“She gave me another reason that her parents had visited her therefore she didn’t come, upon which I confronted her by showing the calendar. And I asked her to tell me the truth now as to what she does with the money that I give her.”

“She started sobbing on being confronted and started looking at the floor. I told her to stop crying and tell me the truth… She told me that the very same day when I handed over the money and medicine to her for a good cause, her husband threw the medicine and snatched the money for gambling and threatened her to not reveal this to me so that I keep giving her the money every month.” Some eyebrows got raised up in wonder after Smriti’s statement.

“I was sort of disappointed after hearing this and couldn’t decide how to deal with her situation. But a day later, this idea struck me that instead of giving her the money; I should get a pack for her every month. And I decided that I’ll do this.” A lot of faces among the crowd, mostly females, expressed an appreciating smile for Smriti on this.

“Therefore I bought her the meds and a trusted brand’s small packet containing 8 pieces on 10th of every month so that her husband can’t take away her money for a wrongdoing.” The whole staff applauded for Smriti on this and she obliged with a smile.

“So from that month onwards, my maid does take leaves but not on her due days but for other valid reasons. And the story doesn’t end here… On one Sunday, while sipping my tea I asked her whether she has shared this with other maids in her vicinity and she said that they all appreciate me for what I have done for her… I felt satisfied about it and asked her to bring them all to my house in the evening. She couldn’t understand as to why I told her to do that… But she got 8 maids with her in the evening. Some of the faces were recognizable to me as they used to work in the neighborhood… I asked them to come inside and handed over sanitary napkins packets to each of them. Needless to say, they were stunned… not only because I gave it to them, but also because it was the first time that they were holding the sanitary napkins in their hands.”

“One of the maids told me that she has seen the commercials on the TV but never considered to buy it for herself or her daughter. On this note, I gave her another packet for her daughter as well.” Again everyone applauded for Smriti and she simply smiled.

“Looking at this, many pair of hands came forward to have more packets for other females in their house. I had bought 20 packets, which I assumed to be sufficient, but I fell short by 2 or 3 packets….” Smriti smiled and looked at everyone. “Trust me, this gave me through and through satisfaction … I barely spent beyond five hundred rupees but it made a dozen faces happy and this made me feel contented.” There was applauding once again.

“But the story still doesn’t end here… next day, a maid came to me with Lata and told me that two maids reached a small medical store and returned the packets to get back the money to spend…. I was shocked and really angry about this. Lata told me that I should not be spending money on those maids as they are not the ones who want to improvise their lifestyle in any way…. I told her to not disclose this to them that I know their activity and told the two that they should inform the other maids to come to me a day or two before their next cycle… So there were maids who would come in and pick their packets from me and since I was cautious this time, I used to cut the packet’s cover and then give them so that they don’t return it and make money. Most of the maids did change their habit of using clothes when they experienced the hygiene and relieve that a sanitary napkin gives. And they promised to use the sanitary napkins without my monetary help. Even lata buys it herself now.”

“So with my own small deed, I learnt that the poor or say the ignorant section of our society will also change….. if they are provided the knowledge about things in their way of understanding.” Smriti said and looked through the audience.

“The poor section will never understand things theoretically like you and I…. So if we want to bring a change in them, we have to step forward and introduce them to that change rather than only telling them to do so….. And I believe that this tendency of bringing a change lies in each of us… We are responsible for the change that we can bring in the life of people who are associated to us no matter in a big or a small way….. All that matters is how keen we are to bring that change. If we want to do it, we can find ways to do it otherwise we just overlook it or find excuses for not doing it…. Isn’t it?” and Smriti handed over the mike to Rohan and everyone applauded for her.



“Well done!”

The entire office cheered up for the kind lady and she received the CSR certificate with a huge round of applause.

Meanwhile, the word “Change” kept doing rounds in Nandita’s mind. Smriti’s statement “We are responsible for the change that we can bring in the life of people who are associated to us” and “all that matters is how keen we are to bring that change” kept echoing in her ears.

Smriti, just a familiar face amongst the office crowd for Nandita, had stimulated a spark inside her. Her woeful heart had got an answer and she had realized what is right for her and her daughter. While sipping her tea, she typed “Hi, can we meet today?” to Kunal. Now her fingers felt confidence in typing. For the next 15 minutes, she waited for a reply and then out of hurry, she picked up the phone and called him up. With each ring that he didn’t pick up, her heart felt anxiety as to what if he doesn’t pick up?

Kunal: “Hello”.

Nandita: “Hey! Hi Kunal”

Kunal: “Hi! How are you Nandita?”

Nandita: “Can we meet today please?”

Kunal: “Today…. Ummm”

Nandita: “Are you busy today?”

Kunal: “Well, I am traveling today. I will come back to Mumbai in November first week.”

Nandita: “Oh okay!”

There was a silent moment on the phone. Kunal wanted to ask Nandita the reason behind asking for a meet where as Nandita wanted to express her desire to marry him.

Nandita: “Well, can I see you at the airport then?”

Kunal: “Nandita, my flight is at 2.30 in the night. I’ll be checking in at 11.30ish… I don’t think you should head out so late?”

Nandita: “I’ll be there… bye!”

And Nandita hung up the call.

“Reach Terminal 2 departure by 10. I’ll be there by then.” Nandita read Kunal’s text upon reaching home and checked time. It was already 8.10 pm. She decided to rush quickly keeping the traffic hours in mind. She informed B Mom that she is meeting Kunal and told her that she will take her decision tonight. B Mom wished her luck and she left.

“Hey Kunal!” Nandita said to Kunal with a pleasant face.

“Hi Nandita, how are you?” Kunal asked and shook hands with her.

“Thank God…. You are not wearing yellow today..!” Nandita quipped.

“You seem to be noticing my clothes tad much.” Kunal shot back and they both briefly laughed.

Purvi came with Kairav and said “Hi” to Nandita. Nandita was a little surprised to see them there.

“Kairav and I are traveling to US for Diwali. We’ll come back on Nov 5th.” Kunal told Nandita.

“Oh that’s nice… I thought you are traveling officially” Nandita said and smiled at Kairav.

“It’s a family visit.” Kunal said and smiled at Nandita. “So you wanted to talk about something?” Kunal initiated looking at her and put his hands in his jeans front pocket.

“Yeah…” Nandita said and moved her eyes to find a vacant place. She saw a bench getting vacated and pointed at it to Kunal and they both walked towards it.

“So… I wanted to say that… I have contemplated a lot about your….ummm…”

“My proposal…” Kunal asked and Nandita looked at him with surprise.

“Well, that’s the easiest word I believe.” He clarified.

“Yes…. Your proposal” Nandita said looking at the floor.

“So… I have decided that I will not spend the rest of my life piling on the agony… and it is better if Kairav and Myra don’t compromise in life and get love of both parents.” She paused.

“Hmmm” Kunal said looking at other passengers.

“So…. It is a “Yes” on my end.” She said with a speedy heartbeat and waited for Kunal’s response.

Kunal was looking in his front with his fingers clutched in each other and was tapping both of his index fingers.

He took a deep breath and asked her “Nandita, I hope you don’t have misgivings about your decision anymore.”

“I don’t have… except one.” Nandita said looking down and paused. Her mind was trying to frame her hesitation in appropriate words.

“Don’t worry…  I believe in love making, not sex.” Kunal interrupted her thoughts and Nandita was startled on his quick and frank reply.

Soon she wished them safe journey and bid them bye feeling peace in mind.

“Good decision. Thank you.” Purvi hugged Nandita and her happy face made Nandita smile.

Next morning on the breakfast table, Nandita explained the whole thingy to B Papa and B Mom and asked for their consent. While B Mom was happy, B Papa contemplated a little and looked at little Myra and said “I am happy, if my children are happy” and gave his blessings to Nandita by touching on her forehead. His approval had filled her with relief. She informed Purvi about the same.

“Her family said YES 🙂 Purvi texted to Kunal.

Kunal checked Purvi’s message while boarding his connecting flight and replied her with a simple 🙂 .

In the weekend, both families connected on video chat. Kunal’s father and elder brother and his wife spoke to B Papa and B Mom. Kunal showed Nandita’s face on camera to his mother who couldn’t speak but her face sparkled with happiness to look at her son’s new to be bride.

“Hello Myra” Kairav looked into the tablet screen and said “You know you are going to become my sister.” His voice was cheerful.

“Sister… How?” Myra asked innocently and everyone including Kairav laughed.

“You will be staying in my house and then you will become my sister.” Kairav tried to explain but Myra was way too little to understand these logics.

Kunal and Nandita applied online for a court marriage registration and the date they had got was 20th November. About two years back, a twentieth had destroyed their life and yet another twentieth had given them a chance to rebuild their future – together.

to be contineud…

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