A drive down memory laneMrs Pradhan, like thousands all over the world, had forgotten her place in her world and her destiny had been obscured.
Today for a change she was going to take a break.
The hours of watching television, holding telephone conversations, and drowning in household chores were taking a toll on her. The humdrum blues of doing the same things repeatedly had almost turned her into a robot.
Because of the pandemic, she was confined to her residence 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. As a result: she was suffering from cabin fever. Mrs Pradhan was having to grapple with the new realities, emotions and thoughts of a million kinds.
She had started feeling dreary. Today, after many days, when her husband decided to take her out on a long drive to her favourite place in the hills to visit a temple, she was overjoyed. This could be the much-needed change I was thinking of, she thought to herself.
Yesterday, when she remarked to her friend, “Apsara, haven’t we become hamsters on a wheel with the daily grind?” Apsara had tried to cheer up by putting her distress to perspective. Her friend pointed out that only a small change in the daily routine would change her newly acquired pessimist outlook towards her life. Her husband, too, had been home for months like her.
The fear of Covid had dragged on and on and a large part of the economy had slipped into paralysis and so had the tourist business of Mr Pradhan. Both their children, Amit and Archana, had already migrated to foreign lands and the couple were having to deal with the empty-nest syndrome. The pandemic had only added fuel to fire.
In some ways, Mr and Mrs Pradhan had forgotten how they often bounced back from their dampened spirits and got their otherwise, strong and jovial spirits back over and over again all their lives.
Mrs Pradhan had spent her childhood in the hills racing towards her future, hurrying to be a college student and had daydreamed so many times about moving to the city when she was older. She was impatient in every way. She was hungry for life and couldn’t wait to enjoy the beauties of it. After college, she started to work as a receptionist in a travel agency and got married at an early age of 22.
Her parents were happy and like a dutiful wife, she raised her children well, with the help of her gentle husband. Now both her children have good jobs and wonderful married lives. However, today, as she was about to go out for a long drive with her husband, her rhetorical ruffles subsided, and she did not think of anything. She was over the moon with the thought that she would have a change, perhaps a break in the clouds!
Off they went out for a drive. Dressed in her red kurta-suruwal, her hair tied up with a fancy red hair-clip, even at a ripe age of 60, she glowed in the afternoon sun. She forgot about the anxieties that Covid-19 has given humanity and the uncertain tomorrows that it has brought along.
She pushed away the wicker easy-chairs by the front door near the kitchen hurriedly and got out of the main door. Mr Pradhan looked cheerful that the day was sunny and started the ignition of the car.
Off they went on this much awaited drive!
Mrs Pradhan enjoyed seeing the sights of the familiar road-side houses, the trees, the bushes, the fallen leaves and the green hills in the distance. She looked at her husband. His youthful energy and spark faded his wrinkles and today he looked as handsome as ever. Maybe, he, too, missed driving to his job along with the excitement of carrying out day-to-day business, meeting varieties of interesting people and above all, being productive.
The drive continued and her hungry eyes devoured what they saw. Then suddenly Mrs Pradhan noticed clothes spread out on the grass to be dried. By the side of the river, there were two young girls. She noticed their long hair and the smiles on their happy faces. The taller girl sat down on the grass and waved at their car. “Oh! What was she trying to say?” wondered Mrs Pradhan. She seemed to be in a happy mood and Mrs Pradhan waved back at them, enthusiastically! She was so grateful for that human connection though it was only a wave and for a minute! How she craved interaction and missed her friends and family! Maybe after the pandemic, happier days will return!
The two girls were Sunita and Binita. Sunita, the elder one, was eighteen and the younger one was thirteen. They had gone to the river to wash their clothes that afternoon. After washing their clothes, they were planning to sunbathe and rest a bit. A young teenager, Sunita often daydreamed of how a car would come by and she would wave her hands to the driver in the car. The driver would be the hero, her prince charming, and in her imagination, she would fall in love with him and she would be married to him and would go to the city!
The silence by the river side was beautiful but the silence was also a little frightening. There was just the sound of the flowing river and the circling of a hawk high above the far trees. And, lo, how the two sisters would talk and sing as they did their washing in the river and when they returned home, they would be rejuvenated and revitalised. Perhaps nature worked her magic on them every single time!
Mrs Pradhan’s thoughts flew away and for a moment she kept looking outside the window. Her husband inquired if she was enjoying the scene. She commented, “Yes, it has been a long time that the two of us had come out on a long drive like this." He acknowledged her observation and smiled.
Mrs Pranita Pradhan again went back in time. She was Pranita and how everything she had ever wanted to do had turned out to be successful. She was content with her life. However, at the back of her mind, she now suddenly craved solitude. She longed to let her mind slip into her more creative corners and write a poem. But she remembered that she was also Mrs Pradhan and not only Pranita, the writer. It was now her turn to make a remark at her husband’s remark. He was saying, “What’s up with you today? You don’t seem to be enjoying this drive?" She just nodded her head and politely said, “Oh no, that’s not the case. In fact, I feel so elated that I am going down on memory lane in a parallel way.”
Back home, Mrs Pradhan smiled at herself and asked herself, ”How many women have the luxury of living their happy past and live a life of zero regret like herself?” She said a quick prayer of gratitude.
She had led a meaningful and fulfilling life, one that she had always envisioned. Today, the beautiful long drive with her loving husband gave her a big, precious bouquet of memories of her teenage years.
Mrs Pradhan, like thousands all over the world, had forgotten her place in her world and her destiny had been obscured. Thankfully, the drive had turned out to be a tonic that much needed change and helped her reset her compass. That evening, her chirpiness seemed to have returned along with the bounce in her steps and the sparkle in her eyes.
Later that night, Mrs Pradhan disappeared in her study. She seemed to be writing something. Who knows what she was writing about? Perhaps, it was about her drive down memory lane.