Baa opened the door with a smile as she expected Sanjali to return home from work. Sanjali reciprocated but the smile was half-hearted. Baa thought so. Baa watched Sanjali drag herself to the sofa and sink in it. She sat there with her head held low. Sanjali’s face appeared dull. Something sure was not right thought Baa.

“Let me make a kadak masala chai for you”, said Baa as she entered the kitchen.

“Baa, don’t make tea. It’s already late. By the time I freshen up, it would be time for dinner”, insisted Sanjali.

Baa returned back and sat near her.

“March ending is taking a toll on you, Sanjali”

Sanjali had joined the prestigious bank about seven years back after her husband made an exit due to a massive heart attack. She had got the job on the compassionate grounds in the same bank where her husband worked. From a diligent homemaker, a dutiful daughter in law and a doting mother to a dedicated bank employee, Sanjali had taken great efforts to accommodate the sudden changes by accepting the reality. For she knew very well that two more lives were heavily dependent on her, her mother in law, Baa and her daughter Jayanti who was persuing law. Her pleasant personality coupled with earnest hard-working ways rubbed on to everyone around her, making her much sought after and appreciated not only by the colleagues but customers as well.

“Hmmm. Wish it was just that”

“Mean? What’s bothering you?”

“Nothing. I am exhausted. Is Jayanti back from her evening walk?”

“Jayanti did not go today as none of her friends were available. So, she decided to stay back home and binge watch on the last season of her favorite serial”

“Okay” said Sanjali and heaved a sigh. She was about to get up when Baa held her hand and gestured her to sit down.

“Don’t side-step the topic Sanjali. Tell me what’s bothering you. I may never have worked in my life, but…”

“Baa, don’t say that. It’s because of your strong support I could come out of the darkest phase in life”, said Sanjali cutting Baa short.

“Then why don’t you tell me. It’s not just today. Its been a month that I can see some unsettling under-currents. You don’t seem to be happy to go to work these days. Smile on your face is vanishing at an alarming rate. I have been noticing it but thought it’s the work pressure”

“Work never bothered me Baa. Its something else”, said Sanjali and paused. Baa reached out to her and held her hand.

Tears started rolling down Sanjali’s face as she spoke. “Baa, as you know six months back, we had a new branch manager. He is a well-decorated one. However, he is not a gentleman. Initially he used to call me often to his cabin under the pretext of work. Over the time period, I realized it wasn’t just work. His eyes would rove all over me. My sixth sense warned me. I kept distance and did not talk much with him, unless otherwise it was related to work. He then started visiting me at my desk. He touches me inappropriately, always feigning that it happened by mistake. I then decided to seek transfer to another branch in the city. That irked him all the more. He has now started giving me extra work so that I stay back way after the closing hours of the branch. I can see his vile smile from across the glass cabin. A wolf in sheep’s skin. Baa, I am scared to go to the bank these days”

Baa was taken aback. Before she could think of responding to Sanjali, there came a feisty voice…

“He is a bully Ma. Face him. Don’t run away from him. The more you try to run away more he will feel powerful. Remember what you used to tell me when I faced bullies at my school. The bullies have the most insecure minds. All you need to do is, put a brave front. Put your feet down, Ma. Register a complaint against him. You need to and have to fight back and not run away. You are stronger than you believe you are. If you can weather a personal tragedy, this is nothing. Don’t zip up. Speak up”

It was Jayanti. She had entered the room while Sanjali and Baa were deep in conversation and thus they had failed to notice her entry. Though Jayanti heard only a part of the conversation, she was mature enough to fathom it.

Sanjali and Baa were surprised at the sudden deluge of the forceful persuasion from firey Jayanti. Jayanti came and sat near the feet of Baa and Sanjali.

Holding their hands, she said, “Per ardua ad astra*, Ma. Fight your way to dignity”

Per ardua ad astra”, replied Sanjali with the shine returning to her eyes and a new-found determination developing roots in her heart.


*Per ardua ad astra: A latin phrase meaning “through adversity / struggle to stars”
Picture courtesy Pixabay
Explore previous stories at Stack of Stories
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22 Comments

Meena · April 18, 2020 at 7:25 am

I do hope Sanjali can whether this storm. Such pervs exist in this world and they must all be opposed.

Balaka · April 18, 2020 at 9:22 am

Such a difficult phrase with such a nice meaning. This phrase is so relatable to our present situation. Isn’t it?

soniadogra · April 18, 2020 at 10:33 am

Your pieces of flash teach me something new everyday. Thank you for adding a new phrase to my dictionary.

Simon · April 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm

Like your message in each story. So wise! Brilliant work again ✨👌✍️

Dashy · April 18, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Fight your way to dignity. This is a widely prevalent issue faced by women today. You’ve brought it out well through your story.

Jyoti Jha · April 18, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Wow, this is so beautiful! Loved this Latin phrase. Thank you for such lovely narration with a strong message.

sundeepananthd · April 18, 2020 at 3:14 pm

I hope she takes a step. A friend of mine had recently faced an incident similar to this and was afraid to take any steps. I supported her in taking a legal action and she is very happy now. I agree that there are a lot of men on the other side, but they aren’t really men. They not only make a stereotypical image for all men but make it very difficulty for them.
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Archana (@yenforblue) · April 18, 2020 at 4:11 pm

The phrase is new to me.. and the message is loud and clear! Wonderful writing as always Anagha!

purbajune · April 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

A heartwarming mother-daughter story. Enjoyed the read.

Pradeep · April 18, 2020 at 6:09 pm

Adversities are opportunities. Nice story!

Keith's Ramblings · April 18, 2020 at 8:21 pm

What a wonderful phrase..A beautifully written piece, the dialogue was just perfect.

P is for …

TheDreamGirlWrites · April 19, 2020 at 12:44 am

Chai can definitely take the worry away..

P is for Paranoia
https://thedreamgirlwrites.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/paranoia/

Ira Mishra · April 19, 2020 at 1:06 am

More power to the lady…. Hope she can get through with this with dignity and strength….!! Lovely piece of narrative again with a very important message…. Sometimes it’s easy to think on these lines but difficult to implement… It really needs a lot of strength and courage to get through such a real life situation!!

Ruchie · April 19, 2020 at 1:39 am

I totally agree with her daughter the more we keep quite it’s tough …we need to fight always for injustice.

alpanadeo · April 19, 2020 at 1:51 am

Awesome..dont zip up, speak up. Thats the only answer in such kind of situations. I am proundof Jayanti for supporting her mother in a matured way. I am sure, Sanjali must have felt proud of her daughter too

msjadeli · April 19, 2020 at 7:44 am

This kind of sexual harassment is intolerable. Silence allows it to continue. Your showing the strong support system of the 3 generations is awesome. I’m glad grandmother was perceptive in picking up her daughter’s mood and the granddaughter is an empowered female at such a young age. I really hope Sanjali reports that piece of crap. He has no business managing people or any living thing!

Shilpa Garg · April 19, 2020 at 7:58 am

Well said. Bullies are the most insecure people and they should be dealt with firmness. Wonderful story, Anagha!

Srivalli · April 19, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Such perverts are everywhere. Hope Sanjali fights back and gets him kicked out of his job.

Dr. Jyoti Arora · April 19, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Different phrases with different stories teaching a different lesson everyday. much Appreciated !!

Shweta Suresh · April 19, 2020 at 11:58 pm

More power to these women. May their tribe grow! Great story, Anaghaji.

Akanksha · April 21, 2020 at 10:28 am

Your stories are so unique..learn so much from it.
They are not only inspiring but lot of new works in our knowledge bank.
Proud of you vahini

Nutan Parekh · April 22, 2020 at 10:21 am

Fight for yourself is the messege for every woman who is suffering this type behaviour from the society… Heart touching story

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