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The Mean Daughter

The Mean Daughter

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  8 Oct 2019 7:02 AM GMT

Radhika liked her new office primarily because of her colleagues. The office was dominated by female employees and Radhika was immensely comfortable with that. Lunch was a fun part. Razia would always bring something in, either chicken or eggs, Mala would bring rice and some South Indian curry, Suhaani would bring some chapatis and some spicy veggies, Noor and Pratigya would bring some snacks. Sharing and eating lunch together was fun. Pratigya was the youngest of the lot. She was a chatterbox. Married at a young age, Pratigya was pursuing MBA and working. Both she and her husband are more of buddies than husband and wife. With Pratigya around, nobody could talk, because she took the centre stage in talking. She loved her colleagues a lot, including Radhika.

Today Pratigya was very happy. Her mother-in-law had come over to stay with them for a month. Pratigya loved her mother-in-law a lot. During lunch, Pratigya said, “I am glad my mom-in-law in finally happy. Because of my mom, she was unhappy. My mom keeps on talking all the rubbish under the sun and ends up making everyone upset.” Everyone in the staff room was surprised. So was Radhika. Who on earth would talk such things about his/her own mom? However Pratigya continued, “Next month mom and dad are coming. I am sure, she will start a fight between me and my husband.” The eldest of the lot in the staffroom, Mala said, ‘It’s okay Pratigya. She is your mom. Now forget about what happened and have lunch.” Cheerful and innocent as always, Pratigya munched on her lunch and went back to work.

Next day Pratigya had a severe headache. Radhika asked, “What happened? Are you okay?” Pratigya replied, “What else would happen? My sister came home yesterday. She smoked at my home through out. The smoke irritates me and I have bad migraine. This girl is such a pain.” Radhika was taken aback. Yesterday Pratigya had complained about her mom, now it’s about her sister. Radhika said, “Come on Pratigya, she is your little sister. Why don’t you ask her to quit smoking? It will affect her health.” Pratigya laughed and said, “Will she listen? No. Every saturday morning, she will come to my home, sit like a log, do nothing and smoke.” Radhika was dumbstruck. Pratigya does not like her little sister coming home? She did not utter a single word of appreciation for her. Pheww. Such a mean girl.

Radhika tried maintaining distance from Pratigya. However, Pratigya loved Radhika. She always came and sat beside Radhika and kept on talking. Radhika somehow felt an affinity towards Pratigya. Radhika loved Pratigya’s innocence but she could not believe that an innocent girl can have so much hatred towards her mom and her little sister.

Today Pratigya came to office screaming with joy. When asked, she replied beaming, “My brother has come. Oh I am so happy! I am seeing him after a year. He stays in the UK for work commitment. My brother, my brother, my brother.” Pratigya was so happy that she hugged Radhika tight. Radhika was taken aback. The girl who hated her little sister so much, loved her elder brother to the moon and back. Radhika could not understand Pratigya at all. Pratigya continued, “Now my brother is here. But how long will this happiness last? My parents are coming next week again. Then my sister will also come. Damn!!” Radhika was shocked again. However, she decided to keep quiet.

At lunch, only Pratigya and Radhika were there at the staffroom. The rest of the ladies were busy with work. Pratigya excitedly took out her phone and said, “Radhika, I will show you pictures of my family members. She then showed a picture of her husband. Pratigya said, “This is Rounak. My husband. My buddy.” She then giggled and continued, “You know Radhika, Rounak is my crime partner. We were in school together, in college together and then we eloped and got married.” Radhika said, “Eloped? Why?” Pratigya made a grumpy face and said, “Why? Because my mom was there to put a full stop on my relationship with Rounak. This lady is always poking her nose in all the affairs.” Radhika did not say anything.

Pratigya then happily took out a picture of her elder brother. “See Radhika, this my big B. I love him so much.” Radhika looked at him and said, “Both of you look so similar. Like brother like sister.” Pratigya giggled and said, “Yessss.” Pratigya then took out a family picture. Radhika looked at the family picture and said, “Both you and your brother look more like your dad.” “No,” said Pratigya. “We look more like Maa not dad.” Radhika looked at the family picture and said, “Well, maybe I am wrong. I see that your little sister resembles your mom more. You and your brother don’t resemble her much.”

Pratigya laughed and said, “Hahahah, this is not Maa. This is mom. My Maa died when I was a baby. I don’t even remember how she looked. I have seen her picture. My brother remembers her well. He says I look like her.” Radhika listened to Pratigya wide eyed, while Pratigya kept on looking for more pics. Radhika mustered up some courage and asked, “What had happened to your mother?” Pratigya nonchalantly replied, “I don’t know much. My brother said one day he had gone to play outside. When he came home, there was a lot of hue and cry. Apparently, Maa had committed suicide. She had burnt herself. My brother was 7 years old then and I was a baby. Even he does not remember much. He always says, “I look like my Maa.”

Radhika looked at Pratigya’s innocent eyes. She did not see a single glimpse of hurt or sadness there. Pratigya continued, “My dad then married this lady, whom we call mom. You know, my mom made my father sponsor my sister’s education abroad. However, my MBA is sponsored by my brother because it was not possible for my dad to pay the hefty amount for my sister and then pay for my education as well.” Pratigya kept on talking non-stop while Radhika gazed at Pratigya and told herself, “I kept on judging her throughout, called her a mean daughter in my heart. The pain she has gone through is unimaginable. Yet she manages to smile. The mean daughter, is she? Shame on me!”

Rhituparna Chakraborty

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