Humility

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


We had a significant code release that week and I being the delivery head had to stay extended hours in the office. Two days before the release, we seemed to be on Target, and the team decided we would take a break and visit the new Cafe that opened up recently around the corner of the road. Yes, you guessed it right, I am a delivery manager in a software company.
The team started a bit early, and I got caught up in a client call for a few minutes. I remembered it was one of our close friends' birthday, and I called my wife. As usual evening 6.30 was time for her prayers and she did not pick the call so I left a voice message and I knew she would do the needful.
I walked into the café hurriedly to join my team as in 30 mins, we all had to be back in the office for a status call. As I entered the Cafe, my eyes caught some attention. A couple was sitting in the Cafe when I walked in. As the light was low, I didn't know who they were until the woman turned around, and I saw it was my wife. Ah, she looked like the replica of my wife. The features were the same, though this woman was far more confident and looked like a professional and the man sitting across the table was treating her like a queen. Suddenly, my team member, Vivek waved at me, and I moved towards my team.
I was still thinking about the couple. A part of me was saying it is my wife, and then there was another part of me that was saying this is an illusion, a side effect of overworking. As we walked out of the Cafe I sighted the man, but this time the woman sitting across seemed so different, and she did not resemble my wife though she was wearing the same clothes and was sitting with the same confidence and poise. I smiled at myself. Not sure what got into my head when it thought the woman on the table in the Cafe was my wife Meera who would never step out of the home without making a big arrangement at home for every small need of the family. Meera is a beautiful human being through she is different than others. She is too calm, mostly busy with the household stuff, making sure the kids are comfortable, taking care of my old parents and always ensuring I am healthy. She has been average in academics and never takes any major decision on her own, she still relies on my decision making and yes like most men, I take pride in that.
Meera handles everything at home, but her nerves behave funny when she is in public places like parties or functions. I must admit I always wanted to marry a girl who is educated but does not hold too many degrees and is not too ambitious. At one point, my parents had given on to my marriage, and then my mom found Meera, who was like an innocent girl far away from the arrogance of the corporate women. But then I had this mindset when I was young, and I no longer hold this view; still, I feel marrying someone like Meera is right for me. My entire family loves her, and my parents adore her. Sometimes I envy her closeness with my mother. There are times I have felt both shares some well-guarded secret from me, and she seems the daughter of the house, and I seem the son in Law. Sounds too good to be true in 2019. I feel proud that I married someone who is well educated but not an ambitious high performer. Meera loves reading and spends hours in my mother's library. She is also the only one in the house that is allowed to touch my mother's smartphone. I never understand what is looking for there, but my mother is very possessive about her phone.
Again my thoughts went to the illusion of the woman I saw on the table. Maybe because Meera was always so self-conscious I was trying to envision how confident she would look if she were not so nervous in public.
It was time for the meeting to end, and I realized it was dinner time. At home, we had a ritual of having dinner together, which meant I had to rush home. I reached home, and as usual, Meera was at the door. She offered me a glass of water and asked me to change and come while she is setting the table. We have a big dining table at home; an eight sitter and the entire family was seated by the time I came down. There was also a surprise for me. My sister from London had arrived with her son. So it was house full. I asked Meera if she got my text and she promptly replied she sent flowers and a cake to Mrs. Mehra who was a close family friend for her birthday and I was smiling to myself saying this is Meera my Mrs dependable.
Then we wished goodnight to my parents, Meera made sure my sister Shanaya is comfortable, and the kids get into the bed. Meera and I have twins Aditya and Ananya. They have just turned four and keep Meera on her toes. Making sure everything was taken care of, Meera came to the bedroom to rest. I was reading this new novel Open (the Biography of Andre Agassi). Meera, as usual, asked me how my day was. I told you I have something interesting to say to you. I went to this new cafeteria near my office, and for a moment I felt I saw you on a nearby table. The woman was power dressed, talking to the man across the table as if she was the boss. Meera looked Puzzled for a while and then she burst into that infectious giggle of hers and said you know I am always comfortable in salwar suits and you thought I could dress up like corporate women and boss around people.
I am not an orthodox man, but I felt a sense of relief that the woman in the Cafe was not Meera, and I cannot logically explain why.
Meera and her nervousness were known to our entire circle of friends. We had visited an award function in my office, that was six years ago. They called Meeraonstage, and it was then her phone rang. She picked the call and said I would call back and then as she was climbing on to the stage, she almost stumbled. She was sweating as if she has just finished a running race. She grabbed a glass of water, and her hands were so shaky that the glass slipped from her hand and shattered on the floor and then all the attention shifted to how to get the stage cleaned up. She became so conscious that she moved out of the party, saying to me I need to be home. My mom stepped up and spoke. She also covered up for Meera saying she had a high fever. My mother was an intelligent woman, and because she loved Meera, she would do anything to cover up her erratic nervous behavior at times. So my mother gave me company for my 1st award function and not just that after we reached home, she made sure Meera was ok, and I do not talk or scold Meera about what happened at the party. I was like these two are mother-daughter combo. Sometimes I felt my mother was more biased towards Meera than her daughter Shanaya
And Shanaya was like Meera's kid sister who would consult her on everything. Sometimes I think I get ignored in my own home, and sometimes I tell you guys to feel the BA pass woman in the house knows more than a Ph.D. holder in computer science from Stanford University. These are times when my mother would remind me of humility, and I would prefer to silently and gracefully move away from home to office. So you can never win against your mother, and it is best not to try.
After a couple of days when I was driving back home, my eyes caught the sight of the woman again who looked like my wife's twin who had the same face and a different personality, and suddenly she started driving fast, and I lost sight of her. I called Meera to tell her we need to go to Mr. Mehra's home. There was a lot of disturbance in the line, and she said she had gone to the vegetable market with my mom and they were crossing the road and if she could call back. She called me after 5 minutes, and I told her about sighting the mystery woman again. She brushed it off, laughing and then said ever after ten years of marriage, I am seeing her everywhere. She sounded convincing, but there was something in my stomach that was telling me there is something more. I decided to go home early that day and to my surprise as usual Meera was at the door to receive me, and my mother was busy arranging the vegetables in the refrigerator. arranging vegetables was a ritual she never trusted anyone else with, not even Meera. I felt guilty that I doubted Meera at the same time there was a sense of relief. Meera's cooking tasted like my mother cooking, and after marriage, I used to crack jokes that Meera makes my mom cook while I am away, Meera would turn red-faced, and my mom would say, your mother is a good teacher, and Meera is a good student. My sister Shanaya was into share trading and one day she informed us there was cyber fraud and she lost 5 lakh rupees. I told her to be careful next time and forget the whole thing, but Meera said I have a friend who can help us Nab the culprit. I said I am sure nothing would come out of it, but I did not want to tell Meera it was a dumb idea. After a few days, police caught the culprit, and Meera became a hero in our household. She said her friend was on a special mission and cannot come for the felicitation organized by police, after all, it was a multicore scam and as usual, because Meera was a nervous wreck my mother attended the function. There were times my mind used to sway, and I would doubt if Meera had a secret life. I have also checked her phone at times, and I never found any intellectual or interesting conversation there.  A few days after this incident, Meera and I decided to go for a late-night movie, yes she was a movie buff like any other housewife. After the movie, while returning to the car, two boys in mid-20 crossed us, and suddenly one of them turned, and he was holding a gun, aimed at my head. The tall guy pulled me towards him, and the gun was still pointing on my head. Both the boys were well built. He then asked Meera to part with Car keys, Mobile and money. It was then I saw Meera pull an umbrella from her purse and told the guy I have too many stuff in my purse can I take out few items and then I will be able to find the valuables. She was trembling in fear, so the man said ok. Meera threw the umbrella on the ground, and its tip touched the boy who was pointing the gun at me, suddenly he collapsed on the ground, and I saw Meera pounce and grab the gun, she was holding it like a pro she pulled me hard and asked me to get into the car. The Second man was trying to run, and she threw a nose at his leg and pulled him down. Then she took another rope from her purse and tied both the men and called the police. Soon there were police, and one of the police personnel seemed to know Meera, and suddenly I saw the man I had seen with Meera in the Cafe who came and asked Meera if she was ok. I turned to Meera and asked who she was. She said, let's go home. I will tell you everything. Meera was a special agent on a mission to catch drug dealers. She was also a Cybersecurity expert. She was the topper in her batch, an ace shooter and she was a National Champion in Kungfu. I did not know how to react. It was then my mother walked out of the room, she overheard the conversation, and before I could open my mouth, she said Rohit see her humility. For the past ten years, this woman led a life undercover because you had all these wrong notions about career woman. We all are lucky to have her in our lives, and maybe we all should learn humility from her. I opened my mouth, and all I could say was "mom you knew all this, and you were Meera's partner in crime for ten years, you people should have told me all this before." My mother said Rohit, I am your mother, and ten years ago you were not the same man as you are today. You had wrong ideas which even I could not change. It was then I met Meera. She agreed and met you and liked you; she was ok to live a life undercover and has been doing it for the past ten years and hope you understand how much sacrifice that involves. I looked at Meera, I did not have to say sorry, she read it in my eyes, and after ten years of marriage, we understood each other's body language well, though I understood her nervousness only today. From that day Meera and I would attend all parties, yes she did not need to act funny any longer, and our bond strengthened and yes finally knew the secret that drew my mother and Meera so close. My mother's closet was Meera's storehouse, and it was none else but Meera who got the cyber hacker arrested. While everyone in this world would do anything to grab attention, here was this woman who was so humble and ready to play a plain Jane to keep me happy. She used to pretend to be nervous in the parties so that she can accomplish her mission without me doubting and of course my mother was her partner in crime for the first time I must admit I was ashamed of my thought process that a working woman could not make a good homemaker. Yes, I was stupid. Women can usually go any length to wear many hats and do justice to them. That night something changed inside me. The next morning I went to the office, and when I came back, Meera was at the door with a glass of water asking me how my day with her eyes wide open was. For the first time in life, I thanked God for the wonderful woman in my life. From that day, our bond became stronger, and yes, it has been 50 years, we are both old now, Meera is still stronger than me. We are good friends, and on many occasions, we look back to the midnight movie show, and we burst out laughing like teenagers.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Submitted: November 18, 2019

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