After hitting the gym, preparing dinner and having the same, she went for a half an hour walk. Thoughts of tomorrow’s marathon were hitting her – whether she will be able to run 10 kms? What if she collapses in between because of the sun? What if she finishes? What if she doesn’t? And so on. She has been through a lot in the past year. Taking all the negative vibes from the society and turning those into bridges to achieve her daily living. A widow in her early 40’s, 12th pass but working with other girls in their 20’s in a call center, to earn her livelihood was an achievement in itself I guess. Backlash from her colleagues in the matter of speech and age didn’t affect her much now as she has accepted it as a part of job. Yes, she has a natural gift of being positive even in the darkest days. Coming home, she watched a daily soap and went to sleep. People did ask her about her participation but she had no answers. Even she didn’t know why she participated in the marathon.
The day has arrived. She took a hot water shower in summer (don’t know why!), tightened her Rs. 350 sport shoes and went for the run. By the way, she was always racing with life on daily basis. She arrived at the venue. Being all shocked she witnessed that there was not a single person of her age – everyone was in their late 20’s or were teenagers. Anyways, not thinking much about it she was about to start a physical race. The whistle blew. She went slowly but steadily. She was enjoying the morning vibe as the sun was not at its peak yet. And after many days she was witnessing the sunlight as on a normal day by this time she would be within the four walls of her office. After a little refreshment, her heart started feeling heavy. She started walking instead of running and noticed that others were still running. As her speed decreased as compared to others she got hit by a young man and she fell. The man didn’t wait as he was in a hurry to finish the race and win (if possible) – Just like in real life! She stood up – just like in real life. She found blood on the floor as she stood up. She checked her mouth only to find that her tooth had come out. She smiled through her pain. May be that’s what she is – just like in real life!
She started walking again with a big smile on her face. A young girl noticed her bleeding mouth as she was overtaking. She slowed down a little and asked, “aunty, you are bleeding and you are walking with a smile…. Aunty please wait for a while!” She replied, “Beta! girna, khada hona, khona aur paana. Yahi to zindagi hai!” “what!” the girl said and with a fake smile started running ahead. Not to mention again just-like-in-real-life. And our jolly aunt kept walking with a smile. She kept resisting the pain, but it finally struck her. This time the pain made her recall every fall of her life. Recalling the days when she and her husband use to go for grocery shopping together. One day, her husband met with an accident and ended up in a hospital. It was a minor one but after diagnosing it further they came to know that her husband was having major issue in the kidney and need to pass through operation. He kept passing on the pain as just a gas problem for the past two months. Which brings them back to the day of the accident where he decided to skip the operation. On their way home, they hit a bump with slightly more intensity and he passed. A peaceful death for him but not so peaceful time for her. Coming to present, her legs started moving faster, her pace started increasing and she overtook that girl who pin pointed her bleeding mouth earlier. Girl’s eyes were wide open to see that jolly aunty walking faster with a smile. She was crossing every hurdle physically just like she did mentally when her husband died.
Moving ahead in race, she recalled the biggest day of her life which was indeed the saddest day for society but the happiest day for her. The day she thought of taking up a job. Refusal from family and surroundings caged her. She with her firm determination went ahead and got a job in a call center. She earned her comfort with this job. Moreover, she became obsessed with her loneliness and started to enjoy her life, her way – keeping her husband in heart. Remembering this incident she saw a board in green color written “LAST 2 KMS.” Her walk turned into a run. It was as if the old days motivated her to run. She would see the volunteers standing on the sides of the road as the people of the society frowning upon her decision; instead of fellow runners, she saw her office colleagues; and most importantly, instead of her marathon track she saw her life. Yes, with a smile on her face, our jolly aunt began to run last 2 kms. of the marathon.
Suddenly after 5 minutes, she saw the man who accidently broke her tooth earlier today. She came close to him while running and just laughed at him with her broken set of teeth. The young man stopped running in shock seeing the face of our jolly aunt. Because, the face didn’t have centre teeth and it was bleeding a little. Moreover, the sarcastic laugh which she bestowed up on him can be compared to a nightmare! And, with that laugh our jolly aunt finished the marathon. Neither first, nor second nor third but finished – just like in real….life. After crossing the finishing line she was breathing heavily, she just sat on the road and smiled. Smiled for herself, and thought, “When life makes you run. You just run”. That tooth killer came to her with a bottle of water and asked, “Aunty! Why did you smile at me?”. Jolly aunty laughed uncontrollably and then replied, “I broke this tooth today. (Laughed again and continued) Sorry! You….broke this tooth today.” The man replied, “Me? … I’m unaware”. “Happens beta. Many a times we unknowingly break someone but realize only after that unknown turns to be a winner – ju…st….like in real – life!”. The man respected her with a salute and went away. While sipping chilled water she thanked herself for participating in marathon. Suddenly, that young inquiry girl came to her and without uttering a word threw a smile with respect. Because now, she was unable to come up with questions – just like in real life.
Aunty went to her home – more confident than ever wearing a smile. She opened her drawing room window and the sun kissed her. Maybe, it was a motivational and cheerful kiss from her husband. She prepared lime juice for herself and went to sleep. She opened her bleary eyes when the cat, all seven pounds of squirming flesh, climbed onto her belly. Squinting into the sunlight streaming in from the open window, she discovered that she was now the weary possessor of a pounding headache, and at some point, had managed to lose both a tooth and a spouse. She just laughed.
Looking at that cat she said, “I guess, I’m now getting obsessed with the obstacle. But no worries, I just ran the race of my life and look – I’m still smiling”. The cat was staring at her. She went to the kitchen and bought some milk. Keeping it closer to the new guest, she said, “Have it”. The cat jumped and attacked. Aunty was speaking (may be to a cat) that, “Today, I ran a race. I broke this tooth and I never realised because of the pleasure I had while running, racing and finishing.” The cat just looked at her for a millisecond and again fell in love with the bowl of milk. But that didn’t stop our jolly aunt. She continued speaking, “While completing the race, I realized how strong I’m. How easily I have faced the obstacles – be it the battle for job or my beloved’s death. How happy I’m overcoming these obstacles. Ahhhh! This is life. My life, your life. It’s not about the number of obstacles that you face or conquer; it’s all about the end-result. How happy you are at the end of the day defines your living. Be it your job – how happy you are after coming to home defines your living or be it your cooking – how happy you are after eating your tasty dish defines your living. Or be it…..” Suddenly, the cat was all over the bowl because the bowl was empty. The cat looked at our brave lady in satisfaction and replied to all her talks with a long “Meeeeaooooowwww!” Jolly aunty got a new friend, a true friend after years of loneliness. But this time it was not “just like in real life” because it is a real life.
Thank you for reading such a loooonnngg post