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The Hero

About Soniyaa Murhe

An event manager by profession and a writer by passion. A foodie by heart and I guess let my stories speak the rest....

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Prologue :

As I walked towards the fridge, the front door creaked open.

I glanced at the clock – 11:30 pm.

My daughter was finally home. I filled another glass of water and headed towards the living area. Slouched on the chair, face buried in her hands was my 22-year-old daughter – Ananya!

At the sound of my approach, she looked up and smiled.

“Tough day?” I asked her handing over the glass.

“Ya. The shoot starts tomorrow and we are working non-stop for over 2 weeks.”

“Which location are you guys starting from?”

“First is Mumbai. Then we would be moving to Gujarat and then the rest of the north. For north, we will finalize the plan tomorrow itself.” She gulped down the water and sighed.

Part 1

“Well that seems exciting… but your face is saying another story.” I looked at her and I knew that something was wrong. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been surprised if my daughter would have been practically jumping up and down and telling me all about her next assignment. Past 2 years she has been working as an assistant photographer with an organization that supported the weak and poor to earn and stabilize themselves with the help of development programs the organization ran. It had created a sense of satisfaction in her heart until now—where I could see tears form in her eyes.

“Heyyyy… is it one of those days?” I asked pulling her towards the kitchen.

“Yes, I guess,” she wiped her hand across her cheek and moved to get the milk out of the fridge.

“Here, give it to me. It’s my turn.” I made her sit on one of the stools and continued to make the hot chocolate. It was our tradition that whenever one of us hit a rough patch in our lives; we always talked about it over a mug of hot chocolate. It gave us some really good amount of time together and developed a bond which was more of best friends than mother and daughter. In the beginning it was a bit tough for Ananya as she found the idea of sharing the personal girl stuff with her mom horrifying, but the routine eventually warmed her up.

“So, what’s the story?” I put down the hot chocolate and slid down on the stool opposite to her.

“Riya called.” She frowned.

“And…”, I prompted.

“She’s moving to Bangalore. Her company has promoted her as a project manager and also gave her a very good hike.”

“So, are you not happy for your friend?”

“No! Of course I am happy for her. I guess I am panicked because I am worried.” Her frown deepened.

“Worried? About what?” I was just clueless as to where this conversation was heading.

“About myself, my future and my life.” She hung her head.

“Oh honey, what’s there to worry about? You are doing great. You have a god job, great friends and a good family. We all love you dear. What’s got you so panicked then?”

“Mom!” she exhaled and sat straight “I know you do. But look at all of my friends around. So many things are happening. Riya got promoted. Karan just got placed in Google—can you believe it, Google! Niharika is getting married to some wealthy guy from South Mumbai. Ayesha’s dad helped her set her own new office. She uploaded some pictures and it’s so amazing. It’s all glass and white marble and so posh. I won’t be surprised if she starts earning lakhs of rupees right away. What I mean to say is that they are all becoming so successful and rich. And look at me!” She waved her hand up and down trying to clarify her point. “I am not doing anything like that. I am still stuck at where I was two years back. I am not successful or famous. Neither do I earn fifty sixty thousand a month. I am a loser mom. A big one.” She shook her head and the tears came back.

Part 2

I was nearly shocked with her outburst. I had never seen my daughter lose her confidence like this before. She looked defeated and guilty. I realized that I had to come up with a logic which would not just bring her smile back but also make her understand that she was not a loser and that she was my hero. And that’s when it struck!

“Ananya who is your favourite hero?” I asked her.

“What???” she looked at me as if I had just spoken in Hebrew.

“Who is your favorite hero?” I repeated.

“What does that I have to do with this? Did you even hear what I just said?”

“Yes I did. And it does have to do something with you. Just answer my question now. Come on!” I smiled at her encouragingly.

She sipped her hot chocolate and replied, “Benedict Cumberbatch.”

“Alright. Why is he your favorite? Specific reason only.”

She sighed and answered thoughtfully, “Well, because he is different from the other actors. He chooses variety of roles and portrays them as skillfully as he did with the previous ones. He really loves his job and works too hard to do the justice to the character and people’s expectations. He doesn’t get pulled down by people’s judgement and does what his heart says.” She completed “and just a bonus – he’s really cute too.” She passed a faint smile.

“He sure is.” I laughed, “but don’t you think he is a loser too?”

“Are you crazy? Mom! He is the best. He is one of the most successful actors of Hollywood. It’s only because of what he does.”

I knew I had caught the right string, “But sweetheart, he is just doing the same thing as you. You have a chosen a different and challenging career because you wanted to help the society while keeping in touch with your passion. You really love your job and work so hard for it that it makes me wonder at times. You follow your heart and do justice to the tasks assigned to you. And just the added bonus for you – you’re damn cute too.”

I got up and came around and wrapped my arms around her. “So, if I have to go by your theory, either he is a loser or you are a hero. Now you tell me, which one do you think fits the bill?”

She looked up with a ghost of hope. “So you don’t think that I am a loser? You don’t worry that maybe I’ll never become like my other friends? That I might never earn so much as they do?”

“No, no and no. I can never think all those things. Not because you are my daughter, but because it’s me who taught you to follow your heart. I wouldn’t have taught you that if I didn’t believe in it myself.”

I took her hand and led her to the balcony. The cool breeze seemed fresh and inviting.

Looking into her eyes, I told her, “Honey, life is not all about numbers or money or richness. And if you really want to count, count the number of times someone smiled because of you, the amount of happiness you filled in people’s lives, the richness of the bond that you share with those you love. And having this as your priority doesn’t make you a loser. You have been fighting your share of battles. You are strong and determined. You care and you know how to show that too. Your work has kept you grounded with humanity as well. You are as successful as others are. You are very well on your way to become a beautiful independent woman! And the hero of your own life! So are you ready for that or no?” I asked, desperately hoping that my attempt to make her see my side had been successful.

A whole moment passed by and I felt strong arms hug me tightly.

“Yes I am, mom. I am. You are the best.” She kissed my cheek and laughed.

“Well, that’s why moms are always right you see.” I laughed and felt relief flood through me.

“Hey, what’s going on? What are you both doing here?” Aarav, my 16-year-old son walked in the kitchen rubbing his sleepy eyes.

Ananya put her hand across his shoulder and pulled his cheek, “I just got to know that I am gonna be a hero.” She smiled a real happy smile.

“That’s difficult, you know. They won’t accept you with that weight and big head of yours.” He ducked out of her arm and waited her to get back at him.

“I guess they will do.” Ananya seemed too happy to be bothered by his snide comment “Won’t they mom?”

“Yes they will. For sure.” I hugged both of them once.

As they went off to sleep, I knew that this was just the beginning. There are going to be many more times like this, but my kids are strong enough to come out winning with pride; because no matter what the world says, there’s always a hero inside everyone.

As I walked towards the fridge, the front door creaked open.

I glanced at the clock – 11:30 pm.

My daughter was finally home. I filled another glass of water and headed towards the living area. Slouched on the chair, face buried in her hands was my 22-year-old daughter – Ananya!

At the sound of my approach, she looked up and smiled.

“Tough day?” I asked her handing over the glass.

“Ya. The shoot starts tomorrow and we are working non-stop for over 2 weeks.”

“Which location are you guys starting from?”

“First is Mumbai. Then we would be moving to Gujarat and then the rest of the north. For north, we will finalize the plan tomorrow itself.” She gulped down the water and sighed.

“Well that seems exciting… but your face is saying another story.” I looked at her and I knew that something was wrong. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been surprised if my daughter would have been practically jumping up and down and telling me all about her next assignment. Past 2 years she has been working as an assistant photographer with an organization that supported the weak and poor to earn and stabilize themselves with the help of development programs the organization ran. It had created a sense of satisfaction in her heart until now—where I could see tears form in her eyes.

“Heyyyy… is it one of those days?” I asked pulling her towards the kitchen.

“Yes, I guess,” she wiped her hand across her cheek and moved to get the milk out of the fridge.

“Here, give it to me. It’s my turn.” I made her sit on one of the stools and continued to make the hot chocolate. It was our tradition that whenever one of us hit a rough patch in our lives; we always talked about it over a mug of hot chocolate. It gave us some really good amount of time together and developed a bond which was more of best friends than mother and daughter. In the beginning it was a bit tough for Ananya as she found the idea of sharing the personal girl stuff with her mom horrifying, but the routine eventually warmed her up.

“So, what’s the story?” I put down the hot chocolate and slid down on the stool opposite to her.

“Riya called.” She frowned.

“And…”, I prompted.

“She’s moving to Bangalore. Her company has promoted her as a project manager and also gave her a very good hike.”

“So, are you not happy for your friend?”

“No! Of course I am happy for her. I guess I am panicked because I am worried.” Her frown deepened.

“Worried? About what?” I was just clueless as to where this conversation was heading.

“About myself, my future and my life.” She hung her head.

“Oh honey, what’s there to worry about? You are doing great. You have a god job, great friends and a good family. We all love you dear. What’s got you so panicked then?”

“Mom!” she exhaled and sat straight “I know you do. But look at all of my friends around. So many things are happening. Riya got promoted. Karan just got placed in Google—can you believe it, Google! Niharika is getting married to some wealthy guy from South Mumbai. Ayesha’s dad helped her set her own new office. She uploaded some pictures and it’s so amazing. It’s all glass and white marble and so posh. I won’t be surprised if she starts earning lakhs of rupees right away. What I mean to say is that they are all becoming so successful and rich. And look at me!” She waved her hand up and down trying to clarify her point. “I am not doing anything like that. I am still stuck at where I was two years back. I am not successful or famous. Neither do I earn fifty sixty thousand a month. I am a loser mom. A big one.” She shook her head and the tears came back.

To Be Continued in Part 2…

I was nearly shocked with her outburst. I had never seen my daughter lose her confidence like this before. She looked defeated and guilty. I realized that I had to come up with a logic which would not just bring her smile back but also make her understand that she was not a loser and that she was my hero. And that’s when it struck!

“Ananya who is your favourite hero?” I asked her.

“What???” she looked at me as if I had just spoken in Hebrew.

“Who is your favorite hero?” I repeated.

“What does that I have to do with this? Did you even hear what I just said?”

“Yes I did. And it does have to do something with you. Just answer my question now. Come on!” I smiled at her encouragingly.

She sipped her hot chocolate and replied, “Benedict Cumberbatch.”

“Alright. Why is he your favorite? Specific reason only.”

She sighed and answered thoughtfully, “Well, because he is different from the other actors. He chooses variety of roles and portrays them as skillfully as he did with the previous ones. He really loves his job and works too hard to do the justice to the character and people’s expectations. He doesn’t get pulled down by people’s judgement and does what his heart says.” She completed “and just a bonus – he’s really cute too.” She passed a faint smile.

“He sure is.” I laughed, “but don’t you think he is a loser too?”

“Are you crazy? Mom! He is the best. He is one of the most successful actors of Hollywood. It’s only because of what he does.”

I knew I had caught the right string, “But sweetheart, he is just doing the same thing as you. You have a chosen a different and challenging career because you wanted to help the society while keeping in touch with your passion. You really love your job and work so hard for it that it makes me wonder at times. You follow your heart and do justice to the tasks assigned to you. And just the added bonus for you – you’re damn cute too.”

I got up and came around and wrapped my arms around her. “So, if I have to go by your theory, either he is a loser or you are a hero. Now you tell me, which one do you think fits the bill?”

She looked up with a ghost of hope. “So you don’t think that I am a loser? You don’t worry that maybe I’ll never become like my other friends? That I might never earn so much as they do?”

“No, no and no. I can never think all those things. Not because you are my daughter, but because it’s me who taught you to follow your heart. I wouldn’t have taught you that if I didn’t believe in it myself.”

I took her hand and led her to the balcony. The cool breeze seemed fresh and inviting.

Looking into her eyes, I told her, “Honey, life is not all about numbers or money or richness. And if you really want to count, count the number of times someone smiled because of you, the amount of happiness you filled in people’s lives, the richness of the bond that you share with those you love. And having this as your priority doesn’t make you a loser. You have been fighting your share of battles. You are strong and determined. You care and you know how to show that too. Your work has kept you grounded with humanity as well. You are as successful as others are. You are very well on your way to become a beautiful independent woman! And the hero of your own life! So are you ready for that or no?” I asked, desperately hoping that my attempt to make her see my side had been successful.

A whole moment passed by and I felt strong arms hug me tightly.

“Yes I am, mom. I am. You are the best.” She kissed my cheek and laughed.

“Well, that’s why moms are always right you see.” I laughed and felt relief flood through me.

“Hey, what’s going on? What are you both doing here?” Aarav, my 16-year-old son walked in the kitchen rubbing his sleepy eyes.

Ananya put her hand across his shoulder and pulled his cheek, “I just got to know that I am gonna be a hero.” She smiled a real happy smile.

“That’s difficult, you know. They won’t accept you with that weight and big head of yours.” He ducked out of her arm and waited her to get back at him.

“I guess they will do.” Ananya seemed too happy to be bothered by his snide comment “Won’t they mom?”

“Yes they will. For sure.” I hugged both of them once.

As they went off to sleep, I knew that this was just the beginning. There are going to be many more times like this, but my kids are strong enough to come out winning with pride; because no matter what the world says, there’s always a hero inside everyone.

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1 Response Comment

  • Aparna Mondal09/01/2019 at 10:37 AM

    What a sweet and lovely story and a superb lesson conveyed . Being a mother of two adult children myself , I can relate to the emotional ups and downs experienced by adult children when they are on their way to start a career and get to apprehend the uncertainties of life . The role the mothers need to play are of a strong but loving one . Very well crafted story Soniyaa . You have presented a beautifully composed story . You have very well expressed the emotions of both mother and daughter which poured in during that situation of the daughter’s emotional turmoil and the superb bonding and trust they both shared . Wonderful ! Loved reading the story ! .

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