Monday, March 4, 2013

Reminder of a Haven


When the letter arrived in the post this morning, I smiled. It was from Riya an ex member of the Haven. It was her marriage invitation. I don’t know if the invite elicited my memories to think about my first day in Raven or my frequent contact to books and movies wanted me to reminisce those old days like it was a rule to remember. But nevertheless I remembered..

‘Haven’ was the brain child of my friend and philanthropist Divya a nurse in her early thirties then, and when I indicated my interest in joining she felt it was a joke at first for I was just twenty five but she accepted and made me promise that I would not come up with some sarcastic joke when I go in for my first meeting. I can just tell one thing not even once did I come up with my witty jokes, how many times I was tempted to make one is another story..

My first meeting was on the last Saturday of the same month and we met at Divya’s house, over pizzas and colas, some even smoked. The only imperative to be a part of the Raven apart from being a women is that, one should not be married. When I looked around I found women ranging of 25 (me) to 35 or even more.

It was not approved for women to stay unmarried in those days, leave off being independent and this forum helps the women to be so, with grace. “We do not advocate you against marriages, we just give you the moral support that you don’t get just because you don’t have a husband, for whatever reason it might be. Here you get the support and guidance and security that you get from a husband except sex.” Finished Divya with a straight face, and some of them giggled and some smirked. She turned to me and said, this is my prep talk to the new members and every time I say the last words they giggle.. Girls..! she rolled her eyes.

It was hard for me to believe that women can gather and speak about things other than gossip, wailing or self-pity. Jasmin was the first women I spoke to there an good-looking looking catholic in her late twenties, and she said ,”I feel confident being here, who needs men” and she turned around and shouted "who needs men" then they all chanted it for 5 times like in a trance, “Here in Haven who needs men!!” Jasmin looked pleased at the response and said, I created that phrase and it just caught on. I bit my tongue and walked away, to avoid doing what I promised I won’t. I wonder at times, if it was now that they started it, the group would have turned into a worldwide Cult kind of organization and tougher to manage and who knows there might have been movies based on it.

There were no ideologies in there, although people boasted of one, some women stayed because they were desperate to get married but depressed that it did not work out and when they met similar women there they felt that they were not alone, some did because they were feminist and suffragettes who wanted an equal rights in everything just because they fight for it… but those were the ones who married and left faster than the others. People left too, especially when they got married and rarely because they did not like the group. Those who left never came back except one. The souvenir allowed was the wedding invites from the ex members.

I felt interested to go there because of my difference of opinion on the whole concept of marriages, I was not for it or I was not against it, but my mind conflicted over it like the way it did with religion and I delved an answer or in simple words I can say that it was just because I was bored and had nothing else to do.

Many things were discussed on that day, like the 20 yrs old stalking Divya or the woman hater manager of Jasmin and so on.. Riya a bank employee who could be around 36 spoke,

“I want to tell you guys something. I have already made up my mind, but I am still saying I don’t want any one to make any kind of jokes”
 “Its about my mother, she is getting married”

Someone chuckled and was about to make a nasty comment, but a look from Divya reprimanded her from continuing.

Riya spoke again, after some time “My father, left us when I was 5 and mother was taking care of me, and when I got a job, I started taking care of her. She is the only one I got in this whole world, and now she wants to be married to a friend of my dad”

“What is her age” asked the one who chuckled, with a look of intensity like what she was about to say depended on the reply.

“She is 61 and he may be 72”

“what did you decide” asked someone else

“Its tomorrow and I am not going”

The wise woman who asked the age was silent, after contemplating and making some serious looks she said “you said you are taking care of her, may be she did not want to be a burden for you, you did not get married because of her right?”

Riya’s face brightened up, like it was a revelation, a revelation mixed with altruistic remorse.

“what if she wants to be happy, wants a companion for herself” Said I

They gave me a stern disapproving look.. I shrugged!, they chucked me out...

Then she burst out and cried for some fifteen minutes and people consoled her

Today I saw a post script in the invite,

PS: I have invited my mother also..

When I closed the invite, placed it carefully in the cover, and kept it in my cupboard I tried to decipher the reason for her tears, I couldn’t single out one.. there must have been several reasons.. well.. what happened in haven let it stay in Haven!