It had been a long and tiring day for Jija, but she was content today. Finally things were falling in place and the clouds of uncertainty were clearing off. She cleaned the kitchen and saw her daughters huddled in a corner of their barely 300 sq.ft room.

Jija’s husband Shahaji had just come back and they were drinking some hot tea with chapati while being lost in their thoughts. This wasn’t their usual dinner, but the times were unusual as well.

Jija’s heart went back to her village. She pondered on how far she and her family had come..

Jija, a mother of two daughters hailed from an arid village of Parbhani. She had been married at 18 or was it 17? She couldn’t remember. Just like many from her village, they had been married off when their families thought fit. Nobody asked questions, there were no ambitions.

Her remote village was a small hamlet of around 50 families, just like her mother’s village. They all knew each other and they were all farmers. As a family with nearly 16 acres of farmland and a cowshed, her family was a respected one in the village. She lived an idyllic life till the volatility of life hit her family hard.

Drought and unseasonal rains continued to batter and destroy their crops. After the third consecutive crop failure there was nothing left for them to do but leave. Leaving the old in-laws behind, she and her husband had moved to Pune with their small daughters. Most of the youth from the village had made this move owing to the volatile life circumstances. The older generation stayed back to tend to the farmland.

It was a herculean task to rebuild a life in Pune – a city completely unknown to her and her husband. Together, they worked hard for 3 years to make a small world for themselves. She worked as a househelp and her husband worked at a construction site. They put their daughters in school as the builder had schooling for children under his CSR initiative.

She gazed up to look at her husband. He seemed to be lost in thought as well. She continued drink and eat in silence.

Shahaji looked up at his daughters and his wife. There was a look of content on her face. It had been a long time since he had seen her so pleased and content. He knew they were on the right track.

Things had finally seemed to settle down and both of them had been able to make some money when the pandemic hit. Shahaji remembered the day when the contractor told them that the work on the project had been stopped indefinitely. After nearly a month of strict lockdown and restrictions, he had hoped to get back to work. Lockdown had meant both of them being out of work. While Jija’s memsaab had paid her, he knew it was tough to run the house on single income.

Also, who knew when the charity might stop?

Everything had been so bleak with no house work for Jija and Shahaji too being out of work. Most of their friends from the village had returned back. He had decided to do the same, but Jija had been adamant. He smiled as he remembered the fight that they had. He had never seen her do determined and sure of her decision.

He looked up and saw Jija looking at him quizzically. He just nodded his head and continued to eat the Chapati while dipping it into hot sugary tea.

Jija was done with her tea and was picking up the dish and cup when she had seen Shahaji smile. When he didn’t answer, she went back to her thoughts.

She blushed remembering the fight that she had with Shahaji. They hardly fought and she had never been against anything much. But this time she had surprised herself.

Jija had been resolute. She was not going back whatever happens. Her village had a school only till 5th Std and there was poor internet connectivity. Going back would have meant no education for her daughters. Her daughters were studying in 6th and 8th Std. They would have had to travel nearly 20 kms for a school. With the village being remote and poor transportation, there was no way her daughters would have continued schooling.

She came back, when Shahaji came to her and said “You know Shivaji became Shivaji Maharaj because Jijabai stood behind him. I am sure our girls will achieve something amazing in life and it will be because of you Jija.”

There were tears in Jija’s eyes. She had been worried; her husband might go against her and be pushed by the community to get the girls married off instead of letting them study.

After the fight, Jija had asked her memsahib to suggest something and she had asked Jija to provide tiffins to her hospital. Jija had been a good cook and had even been cooking in a couple of homes before the lockdown. Both Jija and her husband had been thrilled and created a basic meal plan. She and her husband had started with providing just roti and sabji and slowly moving to full-fledged tiffin. It had been six months since they had started this and things were finally looking up. Today they had finalized a place and rented it to set up a kitchen for their business.

‘This post is written for StorytellersBlogHop FEB 2021 by Ujjwal (https://mywordsmywisdom.com) & MeenalSonal (www.auraofthoughts.com)’.

Volatile Life: A Short story

32 Replies to “Volatile Life: A short story”

  1. Such a heartwarming story. You have brilliantly depicted the volatility of life as well as the resilience of humans,

  2. Well narrated story of hope and conviction, Neha.
    True that many migrants might been farmers… City life offers many opportunities.
    Thank God for supportive mothers like Jijabai and Jija.

  3. This Pandemic has certainly hit hard to many in different ways, will be always thankful for what and where we are. I liked that he understood her and didn’t go against her or their children’s education. Beautifully written, loved every bit of it.

  4. What a beautiful story of hope, resilience, and togetherness. The last thing I liked the most. Very beautiful story and liked your weaving style Neha. I always love to read this kind of stories of hope. My heart is filled with joy and bliss. 💗

  5. This story made me think of things, ‘Where there’s a will there is a way’ as Jija was sure that she wouldnt go back as their daughters studies will be affected. And ‘Power of Positivity’. Jija was sure something good will happen and with her memsaabs idea of tiffin service it was proven if you are positive surely good things will come your way. Beautifully narrated.

  6. It’s the hard times that rest our inner strength. I’m proud of women like Jija who sailed through this hard time determinedly. Inspiring story!

  7. As soon as I read the characters’ interesting names, I felt there would be some historic connection. Nicely done!

  8. When I read the name of the characters, the first thought was Shivaji Maharaj. Good to read that somewhere he showed his presence in the story. Moms a strong pillar behind their kids success. And when they get a supportive husband then nothing can be better than this. This story is of hope, strong will power and committed decision making power.

  9. This pandemic has hit our life hard at various level and many people have lost hope due to facing various adversity but you story is a like a ray of hope. I like the ending of story so much. it was great to see that Jija has overcome the challenges and start a new journey with hope and positivity.

  10. What a refreshing story about the pandemic. WE have heard only how many people died or struggled for oxygen.But I am sure the story you have written must have been reality somewhere

  11. I really loved the story and the way it showed the meaning of hope is commendable, keep sharing such short stories!!

  12. Your story has portrayed the true picture of hardship and tough times that the lower middle class and working class people had to suffer when the pandemic hit. I am glad this story had a good ending.

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