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Mira Had to Fight Back: A Common Woman’s Story

This story is inspired by a true incident. The names of the characters have been changed.

Mira was barely 16. Excited about life. She had dreams. She was vulnerable. She was impressionable.

A young, bubbly teenager with a big dimpled infectious smile, she was a happy child. She had dreams, Cinderella fantasies; her prince charming would come one day on a well-bred groomed horse and take her away to the land full of pots of gold. She was a hard-working girl, full of grit; however, she was a daydreamer, stargazing and moonstruck with all the hues of the rainbow in her small world.

Mira was enveloped by immense love and support from her family. With her parents living out of the country, she had to settle in a boarding school for her high school years. Routines were very different, but no complaints as she managed to sail through them every single day. Jubilant moments were accompanied by melancholy ones when she would long for one warm hug.

Going to her maternal Aunt Krishna’s house every weekend was the highlight for her. She eagerly waited by the school gate every Friday afternoon when her Uncle Hari would pick her up. The late-night chit-chatting and sharing her innermost secrets with her cousin Simrin was something she looked forward to week after week. Summer vacation was right at the corner, and Mira was super excited to travel and spend time with her family. As always, her favorite Uncle Hari picked her up from school around 6:00 pm that Friday. Mira could not stop talking to him while they drove back home.

It was getting dark at 7:00 pm, the traffic jam was at its peak, and Uncle Hari took a detour with the intention to reach home on time. Mira started feeling a bit distressed and cramped in the car. Her gut was not too happy and was sending signals to her brain, ”Mira, something is not right. Even though there is traffic, it should still not take that much time”.

Uncle Hari came to a halt near an office building and said, “Mira, I need to meet an office colleague for a few minutes. Please wait for me in the car, I will be back soon.”

The few minutes turned into an hour, and Mira was nervous and getting jittery; she wanted to be home as soon as possible. Finally, Uncle Hari made his way back to the car, but in a different form. Mira felt uneasy and was afraid of her Uncle, who was in an inebriated state. His alcoholic breath made her uncomfortable, and she wanted to dash out of the car.

She was numb when she felt her Uncle’s awkward gestures as he tried to get close to her physically. She felt paralyzed as though someone had handcuffed her. What was happening? Mira felt trapped and powerless till some unknown power took over her.

She assertively requested, “Please behave, Uncle. You are not in your right senses, just drive me back home.”

The man who she idealized all her life turned into a villain, and Mira felt betrayed. It was like a bomb had blasted with full speed. The respect came crashing down, and in her full senses, she slapped the man sitting next to her—the man whom she had put on a pedestal and had glorified all these years.

Uncle Hari was shocked and dumbfounded. A timid man who tried to take advantage of his niece was stunned and felt impotent at Mira’s undaunted behavior. He was baffled at her militant and lion heartedness act. Quietly, he started driving back home in awkward silence.

That night onward, all changed for Mira. She had this unseen cloud of tension between her cousin Simrin and Aunt Krishna. It was not their fault. However, the gap widened.

She detested her Uncle; there was intense repugnance towards him, and she wanted to punish him for his misdoing. She tried a few times to confide in Simrin but held back with a feeling of shame and guilt. She started chastising herself internally as though it was her fault. Her house visits reduced and came to a stop when Mira decided to take their name off the list as her local guardian. It was a tough decision and hard to explain to her parents, but they abided by it.

The secret got buried in her heart with no mention to anyone. She often questioned herself, “Did I do anything wrong?”

She never got a concrete answer to her question and let it go by. She embalmed her innermost feelings and mummified them. The point of contact with her aunt Krishna and Simrin was all gone. The gap widened till there was no communication between the families. Mira’s mother once asked her, “Please tell me what happened, let me help you.”

” No, mom, I am fine. I have grown apart from Simrin. Leave it.”

That was the last time they ever spoke about this topic.

Years passed by, Mira was in a happy place in her life. Actively chasing her dreams, attaining her life goals, she was married and had a fulfilling family life. One evening her phone rang and she heard the news that her Aunt Krishna had passed away in a horrific accident. Mira was dismayed, and a colossal teardrop rolled down her cheek. Her most loving Aunt was no more and she had not spoken to her for almost two decades. Her mind flashbacked to all the priceless memories of their times together.

The phone rings again after a few years, with Mira’s mother on the other line, ”Your Uncle Hari is on life support. He is dying alone with no one by his side.”

Mira felt a sigh of relief and said to herself, finally, he will be gone forever. Her anger and detest seemed to vanish away suddenly in the air. It was as though a gargantuan burden had been lifted off her chest.

Uncle Hari passed away. He was in physical pain during the last few days of his life. However, Mira always wondered, did he have any remorse or shame? Did he ever want to redeem himself for what he had done? Did he have any realization of his hideous act? Was she right in her thought process? Should she forgive him?

Mira never got her answers. She decided to forgive herself for having held on to the feelings for so long. She gathered her guts, opened up the skeletons from the closet, and confided in her sister Ahana. She bawled her eyes out, cried for hours, and finally escaped from the chrysalis. All these years, she wanted to be heard but evaded the truth, and finally, it happened. Mira was relieved and felt comforted in the arms of her sister Ahana.

The bold and beautiful Mira decided to educate her daughter Sia to be a vocal, balanced and competent woman. She felt she owed it to her, and it was her duty to encourage her sense of autonomy to handle all the trials and tribulations within the circle of life.

Mira’s message is loud and clear, walk like a queen and never take any abuse. Speak up at the right time, take risks, be gentle but not too nice to be taken advantage of, and lastly, you get to decide your worth – not the world around you.

Dr. Monika Chugh is a resident of Fremont and a doctor by profession. She has an undying love for blogging and actively shares her personal experiences with the world on different topics. An active Rotarian, nature lover, coffee-fitness-yoga-hiking enthusiast, domestic violence advocate, in her free time, you will find her reading in her Zen sipping coffee working on her writing. 

The Sweet Devil In Me

7:30 pm is here and dinner is done, dishwasher loaded, floor mopped, air freshener sprayed.

The sign is up: Kitchen Closed!

Time for my evening walk – jacket, leggings, and headsets on top of my head. Calories screaming on top of their voice: please burn me!

I finish my two-mile brisk and refreshing walk. I’m back home and I feel good, a few pounds lighter. I plonk on the couch with my laptop, a cup of warm water, and the television on in the background – chit chat with husband, kids, and around 11:00 pm, time to hit the bed. Read, meditate, and finally. lights off. Goodnight!

Tossing and turning noises, stomach rumbling, screeching again, I think I am a bit hungry. Oh, my not again! The debate in my mind starts, should I or should I not? I can’t handle the commotion going on in my belly; I finally get up and walk back to the kitchen.

Why, Monika, why? No self-control? 

I stare at the overloaded fridge with my big fat glasses, desperately trying to find something that I had hidden from my family. Where is it, darn it, why can’t I find it? Oh, ya, – it just strikes me; it’s in the other fridge, in the garage. I quickly storm to the garage, very sheepishly sneak out the white, brown box and head back to the kitchen. The frozen box lands in the microwave for two minutes; juices are flowing in my mouth. My palette having a short-fuse moment, ready to burst any second. I can’t wait – I am running out of patience! I open the box and run to a quiet corner; obviously, I do not want to be seen amidst my clandestine mission during the deep starry night.

I dig deep into it, try to gobble up the small, round, delectable, syrupy white ball loaded with nuts, and finally, it lands in my mouth. Oh my, what did I just eat?! So divine, bewitching, and nectarous – I am in heaven! 

Enough of romanticization of the smorgasbord of the savory stuff. I eat one, I eat two, I eat three, and then force myself to stop. I close the box, puppy face and glum, with fluttering hands I open it again and quickly guzzle the fourth piece down my throat. With the promise to be a good girl, I close the box, not to open it again, and I keep it back very submissively.

Thanks to my sense that kicked in, knocked me hard, and said, look, there is tomorrow also, so please slow down. Why will you in your right and sane senses overindulge? But I love Indian sweets, and this is my most favorite, Ras Malai.

Ras Malai is a combination of two words, Ras, meaning juice, and Malai, meaning cream. The dessert is also described as a creamy cheesecake without a crust. The name itself is exotic and denotes the richness of this delicate Indian sweet.

I go on an emotional roller coaster when I think about this particular dessert, my eyes light up, and the selfish in me kicks in as I absolutely refuse to share it with anyone. The box is all mine; I own it! After the wholesome sweet meal, I slept content, satiated like a baby.

A strict vegetarian, no cookies, no pastries, no cakes, so for obvious reasons I find my peace in THE ONE AND ONLY Ras Malai! Twenty-four pieces in the box and all disappear in one day.

I still wonder about the genius mind that came up with this sumptuous, zestful, and toothy dessert.

I can never forget my toddler son, now twenty-one, asking, Mom,” Can I, please have the small white balls in the thick white soup?“

What a moment! He was following in my footsteps, after all!

And the legacy continues with my son, his sweet tooth, and his love for Ras Malai.

Seize the moment, grab a piece of Ras Malai, live a sweet candied life!

Desserts are the sweet threads of the warp and weft of our lives.

-Nicolette M. Dumke.

 And, that’s Ras Malai to me!

Dr. Monika Chugh is a resident of Fremont and a doctor by profession. She has an undying love for blogging and actively shares her personal experiences with the world on different topics. An active Rotarian, nature lover, coffee-fitness-yoga-hiking enthusiast, domestic violence advocate, in her free time, you will find her reading in her Zen sipping coffee working on her writing. 

Featured Image from Wikimedia and under the Creative Commons License