vivian

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

a short story of a girl and her estranged relationship with her parents.

VIVIAN



 

“How will she manage alone with the little child , life is very difficult for single mothers” was the thought loud and clear on the face of the judge when Vivian signed her divorce papers. Few months after her lavish wedding Vivian started noticing how unnaturally kinky her husband was. From using floral scented perfumes to buying loud color underwears everything seemed odd. Her first guess was that the husband might be coming off the closet , however when she found him texting teenage girls under the name STUDBOY69 she knew this was the end. Even on multiple pleading and whining on Victor’s end Vivian insisted on getting the divorce. Victor did his best in making Vivian realize how difficult it is to raise a child alone, to that she replied “no parents are better than ill parents. I don’t want my child to live my childhood!!”.

 

Nirmala, Vivian’s mother was an American celebrity by heart but a middle class housewife in real life. The only exciting thing that had ever happened to her was giving birth to Vivian. Nirmala’s marriage was the biggest disappointment of her life. Being a graduate and the prettiest girl in her small town , she was leading the life of a shark in a pond. And like many small town girls her biggest ambition was to marry someone very well to do. However, after a major father warning her “ to outcast the only daughter drama “ she got married to their distant family friends son.  Being so traumatized at the idea of marrying an ordinary man she never bothered to take a look at any of his pictures. And finally on the grand wedding night when Nirmala saw Murugan her husband she had no end to her misery. Murugan was the textbook definition of an ugly man. At first glance anyone could easily mistake Murugan for a baby ape especially if he had his shirt off . And to make things worse he was a simple college professor who believed materialistic possessions are steps to enter hell. Nirmala, depressed with her life, took great comfort in watching television day and night. Initially she started with Tamil serials, then shifted to Hindi movies and finally found some comfort in Hollywood rom com movies. Her only belief in life was there is nothing good in this world for the poor and the ugly. Giving birth to Vivian was like a prize for all her sufferings. She was impressed with herself when the nurse put her daughter in her arms the first time. The baby had perfect green- blue eyes, she had tiny clusters of hazelnut coloured hair and she was white as milk. Murugan on the other hand was so relieved that the kid looked nothing like him. He once tried to say that the baby has got my eyes but heard the nurses laugh and decided never to mention that again. Murugan wanted to name the kid Nandini but knew his wife would not even hear him out and instead accepted the strange slutty name Vivian.

Born in a small village Murugan was a very sharp boy. He not only excelled in his school , he was also very good with mechanics. He would help the villagers with water pump repairs, tractor repairs, taking care of distressed cows. By the age of 10 Murugan was the go to guy in his village, he was this brilliant man in the body of a brawny scary little guy. Being very aware of his looks he was rather surprised when he got to know that Nirmala agreed to marry him. He had met her a few times in family gatherings , he could barely get a look at her as she would always be swamped with men getting her juice, and food, and flowers, and gifts. He never tried to make a move, not because he could not get her anything but because he knew it was pointless, girls like her don’t look at guys like me, that’s how the world is - Murugan comforted himself. However, when he got to know that she agreed to marry him he was so relieved, the world is a better place than I thought it would be - he again told himself. Once married Murugan lost the strength to even console himself. He lived a silent life, he would go to college, get ridiculed by students and his colleagues come home and get ignored by his wife. The very few who would actually collaborate with him in work knew what a gem he was. When his daughter was born he did not want to be further disappointed so never came near her but opened a fund that would help his daughter be secured once she grows up. Low key, he was happy that the baby was such a beautiful happy angel , she would never see the harsh world that Murugan lived in.

As a child Vivian was always curious about this man who stayed in her house. He never spoke to her but always made an amazing breakfast for her. Later on, when she started going to school she realized that he was the man of the house – “her father”. She wondered why he never came to play with her or come to pick her up from school. His presence in her life seemed bizarre and useless to her. On the contrary her mother’s excessive involvement in her life seemed overwhelming and vain. Her mother never let her play or even talk to any of her classmates. Even though she was very pretty she grew up very lonely. She would read a lot and had a keen interest in machinery.  On her 13th birthday after a rather fancy birthday party Vivian took a small slice of cake and went to her father’s room, A room she knew existed but never entered all these years. At first she was rather disappointed to see her father sitting aimlessly in the room over attending her party but looking at the joy on his face on seeing her changed her perspective. He also had a small gift for her: a pair of tiny gold earrings and a brochure to some of the finest engineering colleges in the USA. He didn't talk much, just handed her the gift, took the cake and told her if you want to go I can make it happen. Vivian left the room with tears in her eyes. She knew the man hated her, the first time he ever spoke not only did he want her to leave the house but also the country. “Mother was right, the man is a monster!!! I will leave and never look back and marry someone loving unlike him!!” She promised herself and also lived up to her promise.

At the age of 18 she moved to the USA , completed her college, got a great job, and returned back all the money Murugan had paid for her education. Eventually with time she got distant and detached from her parents. Vivian would avoid her mother’s calls because she knew all Nirmala wanted was to come and stay with her and mooch off her and her father never called so that was not even a problem to deal with. As time grew by she forgot about her parents and the life in India, she started her new life with this rather eccentric and exceptionally good looking man who promised to be by her come what may!!!

After ending things with her husband she did become a little lonely. Taking care of a bay is a fulltime job and she already had a fulltime job that she needed for steady income.She would sometimes keep a nanny or else pay the neighborhood kids to babysit the child. And all the time she would work in office her heart was at home wondering what the baby was doing. She never understood how to take care of her baby girl as a mother should she be kind or be stern. She wondered what good parents would do to raise a good child? Because she did want to raise the child right unlike her childhood. Living in her chaotic life she was surprised to receive a mail addressed from her home in India, it took her a minute to realize it was sent from her father. The message was very short though, it mentioned that her mother had died a day back and it would be nice if she could come down to India to attend the funeral. Feeling horrible with herself to ignore her old parents  she immediately booked flight tickets and left the very next day with her baby. 

Vivian took a cab directly from the airport to her house. She was surprised to see how little has changed from when she left. There were kids playing cricket on the street, housewives gossiping on the balcony . . . .  nothing has changed in the city, nothing must have changed at home minus my mother - she thought. 

On reaching the destination she was very nostalgic and guilty to step in the house, she felt bad for ignoring her mother all these years and even worse realizing she can't see or hear her anymore. It was only when the baby started crying that she had to go in. The funeral was a small service with her father sitting relaxed in a corner and a few relatives. At the end of the service she was rather amused to know that all the relatives were quite fond of her father.

After everyone left she got to notice her father. He seemed unaffected with the entire event. At night she sat on the dining table feeling lost. It felt like yesterday when she left the place feeling happy and now she returns feeling guilty. Murugan was making tea in the kitchen. He looked the same as he was ten years back or maybe not Vivian was not sure  as she did not remember much of him anyways. He got her tea and sat next to her. “How have you been? “ He asked with painful concern in his eyes. Mostly good she replied with awkwardness. Before she could apologize to him for not keeping touch he interrupted her . . . . “Don’t feel bad, your mom never missed you much. A few years after you left I started noticing early signs of Alzheimers in her, I got her admitted to the hospital, tried a lot of experimental treatments suggested by the doctor but nothing worked. Her last few years she lived in a nursing home, she had completely forgotten everyone , I used to visit her daily some days she would talk to me, some days she was very excited to see me  and the other she was not interested in looking at me at all. But thankfully I have some good memories to remember her by. Especially the last few days, she would talk to me mention about you sometimes, did you know she was very fond of ice cream ? the ones with nuts in a cone, I never knew, If i knew I would have got it for her everyday on my way back home.” Vivian saw a slight shade of grief on Murugan’s face but it quickly disappeared as he continued “ It is very important to choose a good life partner, looks like you made the same mistake as us, but also looks like you fixed it. Good girl!!” Murugan kept talking “Your mother was a nice lady. She was like an angel however she was never happy in her life. And even more disappointed with the marriage. I tried doing the best I could. Maybe it was not good enough. “ 

Vivian took her father out for dinner. It was astonishing to her how well she could connect with him. She told him about her research. And he seemed to not only follow but also be able to give useful inputs. Murugan had resigned a year back to take care of Nirmala. Now with her death he was left with no purpose or need to do anything. When Vivian asked what you plan to do, he replied I’ll stay home and watch English movies. Vivian was about to object just in time to realize it was a joke. They laughed at the table until it made them cry a little and before Murugan realized his daughter came across the table and hugged him and cried. 

She cried all the way home and Murugan did not interrupt her , he took the little baby in his arms and played with her. Sang some strange folk songs and the baby seemed to enjoy it. Do you think she has my eyes? He asked Vivian , She got it from you as you got it from me. Your great grandmother was a beautiful lady with very bright eyes. We all get it from her,  the rest of me is probably from a local ape . . . .  Murugan chuckled at his own joke. Her father had a sense of humor. This was so astonishing to Vivian. Where was this amazing man all my life, why did we not talk more before ?  she asked him. Everything comes in good time darling, don’t you agree? The father said with the kindest smile. 

By the end of the night Vivian was determined to take her father with her to the US. He will resist but I will insist, if he resists more I will cry. She confirmed herself. When she put the proposal in front of her father the next morning he agreed in one go, but I had this entire speech prepared , Vivian giggled, I don’t need convincing to be around my daughter Murugan replied. Vivian continued in a slightly grimmer tone ” I am a single mother now; I have a year old daughter. I don’t want to mislead her like I had been. I want her to get all the knowledge in the world the good, the bad and everything in between. She should be aware of her culture and heritage. Would you please come with me?  A man qualified like you can have many work options there and in case you don’t want to work you have a granddaughter and a daughter to spend time with!!””.He replied with a lot of hesitation “Could the child be named Nandini?” A little surprised by his guts Murugan looked up to his daughter only to see her smile.

 


Submitted: April 22, 2021

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