Aheli is a brilliant mind, a powerhouse of entertainment and an awesome mother. She works for a reputed private firm as a designer. Her story is real, inspirational and shocking. In a candid conversation over Google hangout she reveals her deepest desires, darkest secrets and future aspirations.
When asked who Aheli is and what defines her, she says, ‘Aheli is an extremely optimistic, vivacious, confident individual who believes that the world might not be fair to you, but that shouldn’t stop you from being fair to others.”
I ask her about her early girlhood days, and she gets nostalgic. She says, ‘I am a typical middle class small town girl, sulked quite often, wore traditional clothes, didn’t mingle with boys. My father was the only man in my life and there were music and books. I had a lonely childhood; we lived in an isolated bungalow in the outskirts of the city. I was an only child hungry for company.”
We move on to speaking about childhood crushes and heart breaks, she adds with a tinge of sadness, ‘At 14 I met my teacher and mentor who was an IITan. Such knowledge flowed from his eyes. He gave a new purpose to my anyways futile existence. I tried finding new reasons to interact and come close to him. He was almost 10 years older than me. While teaching me exponents and quadratic equations one day, he suddenly told me that he hadn’t realized that he loved me. I froze, everything around me froze. The gentleman that he was he wrote a letter to my parents saying that he wanted to wait till I grow up as he wanted to marry me. My parents thrashed him; he quit the job and left the city forever. After 17 years, I met him on LinkedIn last year he is happily married with a daughter and settled in Singapore.”
We move on to her college days and she adds happily. ‘College was fun, it was actually the first time I was out of home, alone, made real good friends, met different people loved literature, topped both years of graduation, received awards from the then governor of Jharkhand Mr. Prabhat Kumar’
Aheli got married at an early age. I ask her why did she consent to marriage at such a young age, especially when she was doing so brilliantly at her studies. She says with a tinge of regret that her mother was paranoid that she would fall for a wrong guy again so she didn’t waste time after her graduation but directly dove into matchmaking through matrimonial columns in the newspapers. Her mom found a good family soon enough and they found the boy educated and suitable. The family was filthy rich and that was a like golden cage, there was everything but there was nothing.
Aheli sadly adds, ‘I met him once, we talked about books and music, he looked good on paper, and I consented to marrying him. On our first night after we got married I realized I didn’t love him. There was nothing in him that I appreciated. We laughed at different jokes. He was too cityite. I was too dumb for him, I heard terms like Swarovski, 5 stars, crystals, hookah bars, and show off parties for the first time. He was always working and we met only on weekends. I was happy anyways when he was not around. He was extremely whimsical, moody and could create an issue out of nothing. He used to put something in his cigarette every night and smoke later I came to know it was marijuana.”
Soon after to add to her already unhappy life she found out her husband was bisexual. Even after their son was born he kept up his escapades. She says she was heartbroken and cried every night. She wanted to run away, wanted to die. Lucky enough her husband moved to another city for his work, and she joined her first job as a Communications Trainer.
Around this time Aheli met an extremely artistic individual. His support, friendship and love gave her hope. When she told her husband about her new friend, he called a ‘whore’; she was forced by her in-laws to move to the new city with him to start their life afresh.
Her husband came back drunk each night, most days he had bumped his car onto some tree or pillar, she had to rescue him from the police and angry neighbours. Her ordeal in the new city only had begun. She was brutally hurt and robbed just near where they stayed, to which her husband’s reaction was ‘Take it easy’. He soon after quit his job to start up a business which flunked, Aheli had to take up 2 jobs to support her family, but couldn’t manage for long and fell ill, and had to quit soon. She didn’t eat properly for days. Her son was ignored, uncared for, but she couldn’t do much. They couldn’t pay the rent so asked the landlady to cut it from the security deposit. Her parents were unaware of the severity of the situation and only thought that they were going through a rough financial patch. Her husband found a job but was thrown out in a month again. Her In-laws came to them, but by then she was completely drained, had no energy to fight back.
Her husband was no more a bisexual, but had turned gay, and ignored her completely. When confronted by her, he said that it was just ‘fun’ among guys, nothing serious. Aheli had enough by then, she arranged for flight tickets to Kolkata for herself and her son. She told him she wanted to visit her parents for ‘Durga Pujas’ but in her heart she knew she was not coming back to this hell. But as luck would have it just 20 days before her departure she met with an accident, broke her leg and has stitches all over.
She was determined, that even if that’s the last thing she does, she will still leave. Her son and she deserved a better chance at life. She had given a months’ notice at work. The day when her months notice period ended she got up at mid night, called for a cab, and left. She came back to Kolkata, the place where she belong to. She came back to sanity and happiness.
When I ask her what happened after she came back to Kolkata she enthusiastically says, “My parents took my decision positively, supported me. I got a small job. I put my son in a small school and we were managing quite OK. I was motivated by my best friend and guardian angel to add value to my life, and enrolled in a 2-year diploma on training and development. I scored an 85 on one the papers called principles of business management and received a cash prize of 2k from the Indian society for training and Development. After I completed the course in 2011, I got a job as the Assistant Vice President of the learning vertical of a multinational called Vab Ventures. I did another Post graduate diploma from Symbiosis Pune.”
Aheli proudly adds, “I did the 1 year diploma and joined a big name, with a great hike and a huge salary. It’s been a year and a half now, and I am enjoying the work. My son is in a good school. He learns painting, piano, swimming and cricket. And now I can happily bear all his expenses. I am also saving for his higher studies. I want him to be a doctor. As a kid it was difficult for him to cope up with all this. He is an intelligent kid. He understands everything and says nothing. He skilfully lies to his friends that his father works in different country. He sometimes tells me that he misses his father and wants to see him. He even mails his father once in a while but never receives a reply.”
Aheli affectionately says, “My son, He is currently the purpose of my existence. I want to see him grow an honest and good individual. I want to spend the rest of my life looking after my parents and dreaming for my son. There’s nothing more that I can ask for.”
Finally to wrap up the interview she adds quite happily, “I am an atheist. These days I am madly in love with my own self and I look after myself well”.
Aheli’s learnings from life: “Do what makes you happy. Be selfish sometimes, live for yourself and for people who matter the most. Make your emotions your biggest strength. And yes, dream big.”
We absolutely love the spirit and courage of Aheli, she truly is an incredible woman of India.
(Name withheld on request)
Article by : Rhiti Bose