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The Long Silence

The clock tolled to 2 am and Priya was still unable to sleep. She could sense the cold air and looked at the moon through the window. The moon was illuminating and brimming the leaves of the nearby tree and everything that came under it. Priya could not hold the thoughts that crossed her mind. The only thing she could hear was the tick-tock of the clock reminding her that time is will not wait for anyone.

The entire night Priya could not sleep and looked at one of her childhood pictures kept beside the table. An 11-year-old girl, hard-working and intelligent. She lived in a small rented house with her parents in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

She remembered the day when she used to relish studying rather than practising for dancing, singing and drawing classes. It was her aunt who once told her mother that "a girl must learn to sing and dance apart from scoring good marks."

And in no time Priya was put into singing, drawing and dance classes. Though she never cherished them, her parents were smiling. Priya even helped her mother with the household works.

Unlike others, Priya never cried for dolls or went for evening plays, neither liked watching television nor played video games.

She was much attracted to books - planets, the universe, monuments, animals, the history she had read almost all of them. She had collected all these mini-books which came along with the newspaper.

With all the hard work, devotion and discipline Priya was the 3rd topper in her school and 5th in the district in her 12th board exam.

Priya invariably dreamt of studying BCA from Delhi college but unfortunately, her parents denied as they could not imagine Priya staying away from home especially in any other state and she was suggested to take admission in the nearby College in Agra. With all her dreams crashing and collapsing in front of her she had to take admission in J.K college in Agra.

That day she cried a lot and the grief was unbearable but she did not go against the will of her parents. The college was 15 minutes from her house so her parents could watch over all her activities. Yes all her activities, because it is said that the duty of the girl is to protect the respect of the family and so Priya was also a prey into this.

No mingling with the Boys, no short dresses, no open hair, no going for movies or partying with friends. With no hesitations, Priya used to follow everything to what her parents said and never made a voice of her own. All she was deemed to do was sacrifice, sacrifice and sacrifice.

Not satisfied with the college Priya started preparing for CAT exam and she cracked it during her final year examination.

She could not resist her happiness when she received the selection letter from IIM Ahmedabad.

IIM Ahemdabad is known to be one of the prestigious colleges for pursuing MBA. It was a dream come true, she hurried home to show this to her parents with much hesitation but difficult was to convince them. After all, she had to be sent away from home.

After endless convincing of 3 days, Priya's parent allowed to send her to Ahmedabad to continue her studies. This was the first time she was going to study away from home and her excitement was at its peak. Next month she completed her graduation and was ready to join IIM Ahmedabad for pursuing MBA.

When Priya reached the campus she was awestruck. It was not like the previous college in Agra but a completely different environment altogether. Girls and boys were talking in groups, students were speaking in English, she also noticed that girls were not in salwar kameez rather she saw some girls in Kurti, few in beautiful sarees and some in formal shirt and pant.

Her eyes also grabbed the attention of the students who were eating joyfully and chuckling in the canteen. All these brought a wide smile in Priya's face. The inner comfort was something she could hardly express. It was a place where she can explore herself.

All the formalities of the enrollment were done and she was put into one of the girls' hostel in the campus. She waved goodbye to her parents and here begins Priya's new journey. She was not only performing admirably in her academics but also took part in sports like badminton and volleyball.

She participated in singing and dance competitions as well. Priya was even the most loved in her friend's group because of her smooth and cooperative behaviour.

Here, Priya was not restrained to wearing the usual salwar kameez rather she started wearing fancy dresses to fit for the occasions in the college. Even made friends with boys and ate in the canteen together laughing and bubbling with energy.

Now Priya was entirely different from the one who lived in Agra. She started seeing life in a distinct perspective. The college gave Priya the freedom to wear anything, to talk to anyone, to eat according to her own choice, to work at any time of the day or night and do anything that she craved to.

Two years passed in complete dedication towards the course, submitting assignments, taking extra classes, doing practicals, even hanging out with friends and exploring her inner talent. Priya had not only became curious about things but also an extrovert who never hesitated to talk to anyone frankly.

The best thing was, Priya got selected in one of the IT companies in London during her placement. The company offered her salary worth in lakhs and it was triple the salary of anyone earning in India. On hearing this, Priya's parents were happy but the thing that disturbed them was London.

"How could she survive in London? The people are completely different over there! How can we send our daughter so far?" screamed her mother. " I told you not to send her to Ahmedabad now see, she is urging to leave us like this and go to London."

Priya's father was sitting on the bed and was listening to everything his wife told. "Look at her salary it's so huge amount dear! How can we say no to it? She will earn in lakhs and even we could improve our living!" said Mr Verma.

With a heavy heart, Priya's parent agreed for the job and this was an utter surprise for Priya. Luggage checked, passport checked, visa checked and Priya is ready to take off for London. Priya joined the company as a junior assistant and three years passed with her talent and hard work she now the senior manager here. She bought a new house, a car and was exploring everything she wanted to.

It was Friday night Priya was at the club with her associates and within an hour she received a call from India.

"Please stop sending us money like this. I know you are earning a lot and taking care of yourself. But we care for you and your father is afraid of your future. Come home dear as early as possible."

It was her mother on the call. "Maa I cannot take a leave so early to come home. It would take time." clarified Priya. "We don't know anything, we demand you to come home and that is it." The call ends!

It was almost 2 days now that Priya was in Agra, place where her heart belonged to. Priya came running down the stairs "Can you please tell me why have you called me here so abruptly." She asked looking at her father.

" Listen Priya we wanted to tell this to you, actually your mother has seen few boys for your marriage. Meet them once" Priya's father replied."We think that you must settle down now." Mrs Verma shouted from the kitchen. Priya was silent, she was at the peak of her carrier and suddenly marriage! After all, she was not ready, and the question was how to say this to her parents?

All that her parents wanted was to get her settled. For them, Priya was getting out of hands. A good job, house and her freedom were not ample to get settled. For them, marrying was the only way to get settled in life. Settle by marrying someone. Piya's mother had shown her profiles of more than 8 boys but Priya kept on rejecting everyone.

Her parents already chose some of the good looking boys but the only problem was the salary of Priya was double of them. After rejecting almost five boys in three days she gathered the courage to tell her family that she was not ready for marriage.

She decided she could not marry at this point in time. Over all these years she was silent and did what her parents wanted. Days past and Priya kept on rejecting the boys her mother selected for her. At last, she concluded to meet Ravi.

He was working in a bank as a cashier and was the son of Mr Verma's colleague. The meet was good but they rejected Priya for marriage just because her salary was triple then Ravi and even Priya denied to leave her job in London just for marriage.

The clock tolled to 4:00 a.m. and outside view was more beautiful with the chirping of the birds. Now Priya had made up her mind to describe everything to her parents. She had never disrespected her parents, but for now, marriage was something she not willing. From school to college, she listened to what her parents said and worked accordingly. But not this time.

Priya waited for everyone to gather for the breakfast. She looked at the clock, it was 8:30 a.m and she could hear her parents who had already woke up.

Priya got from her bed and went to wash her face. "I have to do this." she said to herself looking at the mirror.

She came downstairs and called for her parents. "Maa Papa" shouted Priya.

Mr Verma kept the newspaper on the sofa and went to the dining table. On the other hand, Mrs Verma came running from the kitchen and asked "What happened? Why are you yelling like this? This is not your office!"

At first, a cold ran down her spine, but this time she was bold enough to speak. " sit! I want to talk to both of you."

"Actually..." Priya continued. "Actually I wanted to tell you that I am not ready for marriage. I cannot randomly marry anyone whom I had never seen or talked to. I am not disappointing you Maa Papa, it is something I am scared of."

Mrs Verma looked at Priya's father "see this is what happens when you send her to London. now handle all her western thoughts and culture."Father said" it was you who fulfilled her wishes, I told you she is getting out of hands"

This distressed Priya, however, she did not stop."Listen I am not going anywhere. I am just asking for a little more time. I will myself reach out to you when I am ready for marriage, till then please let me do my job for which I had worked so hard day and night."

After a long talk, Priya's parent gave her a nod. She was elated and her eyes filled with tears. The fear of leaving her job and getting married terrified her, but now she was free. She planned to stay 2 more days and also asked her parents to come along with her for a week and visit London.

Next day she booked a flight to London and was excited to join her beloved job.

"We are proud of you Priya." Mr Verma said in the flight and her mother gave a beautiful smile. The flight took off for London.

In the next two months, she travelled and travelled so many places and explored cultures. Now Priya was completely different and here she breaks the long silence.

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