Shweta Vikas Khoday



Shweta Vikas Khoday


Three cigarettes and many more

Three cigarettes and many more

4 mins

Riya was just back from work. Her frizzy untied hair and saggy attire revealed her hectic day at work. 

"Whether you are ok or not, I don't care I am going to tell them, you are ready for the wedding that's it" yelled Riya's mother from the kitchen. Cooking frantically.

Riya looked puzzled. She got into her room slamming the door with a loud thud!! 

"This will not help. Arrogant girls are not liked by anyone." yelled the same voice.

"Like I care!! yesterday I met a guy and today I am suppose to decide, nonsense", whispered Riya.

Smoking a cigarette, sitting comfortably on the commode in her washroom, Riya had an important choice to make. But did she really have a choice ?

Before making up her mind, Riya had best case studies lined up in her house to learn, relearn and unlearn from. 

Her mother Mrs Vinita Varma, married a police inspector at 20 and turned a widow at 28. With two daughters to be taken care of. A 28 year old widow is also a young women, with dreams, desires, drives and a whole lot of stuff. Scaffolding all of these under the banner of motherhood might have been one of the many challenges that her mother had to face. 

With the knock on the door," Riya...dinner is ready, come out. Your sister has arranged the table. The least you can do is eat without any drama." yelled the same voice. In return there was only a silence.

Riya with the second cigarette on...., thought of her older sister, Mrs Akshata Kumar. A post graduate in Computer Applications. Worked with many MNCs with a whooping 6 digit salary package with great academic record. But fell in love, got married, eventually had two kids and then to top it all, divorced her husband. Reason for divorce - incompatibly, at least on records. None of her mother's wise words could make her change her mind. "Now, she does a whooping non stop 6 multiplied by infinity times of cleaning susu - potty, Wow!!! Kids are wonderful, I love them but .........!!" Riya thought to herself. 

"Riya come on now, we can talk over dinner" called Riya's sister knocking the door. Again there was silence in response.

With the third cigarette on.... Riya could not stop but think about her aunt, Ms Vasanti Sanyal. Her mother's younger sister. She had decided not to get married after seeing her older sister's ordeal with her husband's untimely death. She remained free and away from the every day chaos of running the non stop kitchen, managing noisy kids with full time susu - potty. She was a successful architect with great bank balance after all. She appeared really sorted for most of her life. But last time Riya visited her aunt, who was now in her early 50's, she saw her house was no less than a dingy bar, filled with a wide range of empty bottles of exotic liquor. Riya was sure if her aunt would sell all of those to a scrape dealer she would add more to her fortune. Her aunt complained she felt lonely, not loved and cared for. She often cried and hugged Riya. Riya knew her aunt had some male friends but she soon understood, all those were only for the merry times. Seeing her aunt in this condition was devastating for Riya.

With many more cigarettes on... Riya kept the train of her thoughts passing by..... She knew many women in her apartment who were happily married from outside but each had harsh realities to deal with from the inside. Someone had an alcoholic husband, some dominating, some had extra marital affairs, some were sincere but with impotency, some had the famous in-laws issues. If all was good then financial crunches and other issues with kids and property and so on. On the commode, in that little bathroom, Riya had heard, the so called confidential talks from almost every houses above hers and knew the darker side of life.

With all this running in her mind how could she ever make a choice about getting married. She knew her life would end up in one of these tracks. When she couldn't help her mother, aunt, sister or anybody else from their unkind destiny, then how could she save herself. 

By now it was too late, there was no knock on the door this time.

Riya settled down on the commode again and as she reached out for another cigarette. Her eyes fell on the cigarette butts, that she had smoked all this while....

Each of the first three cigarette butts and many followed by .............

Each burnt to its own limit, some half, some quarter, some three-fourth and others in immeasurable ways.

Riya felt, these cigarette butts corresponded to the lives of people she was thinking about. 

Yes, its true we don't have much control on our lives, but no matter what life shows up, we definitely have the choice of how much to give into each situation, half, three fourth, quarter or full....

these cigarettes can't make a choice but we can.....

Riya now knew what to do, she had finally made a choice......

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