Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.
Stella got a call from Tanya again. This was Tanya's 6th missed call in 5 minutes!
Stella got up and brushed her teeth, while making herself a cup of tea. She absolutely abhorred the habit of drinking tea/ coffee without brushing! Taking her cup to the balcony, she settled down on the comfy futon and called her best friend Tanya, hoping she was alright. Stella was the one who generally called.
Stella- Hi! All ok? You literally called me 6 times in 5 minutes!!! I was in the loo. Now shoot, where's the fire?
Tanya- Stella, can I drop in for a coffee? I need to talk..
Stella- Tanya, is everything ok? Did you two fight again?
Tanya- I'll tell you when we meet.
Stella had a bad feeling about this. Tanya wasn't her usual self ; she was too calm. Is this the proverbial calm before the storm, she wondered as she got ready for work.
Stella owned a Cafe. Her parents had set it up for her because she wanted to do something independently. She didn't refuse when her parents wanted to help her financially to start the Cafe. Daughters have less of that useless pride, probably! She selected the location and they bought it for her. The Cafe had a small bedroom with an attached bathroom which was good enough for Stella to live in. Saved her money, time and energy!! She was quite frugal.
Stella's Cafe served excellent coffee of all variety, sandwiches, baked goodies, different kinds of tea. She had about 5-6 part timers working for her and her Cafe was doing pretty well. Every few days, Stella would tweak the menu or the recipes and the results would be amazing!! She loved doing what she was doing and was happy to be independent!
Although she came from a rich family, she was humble and grounded. Her parents were good and helpful people but she needed her own space to grow as an individual. She wasn't cut out for that life! She wanted to live an ordinary life like her ordinary self....
By 9, Stella was ready to start business as her first customer walked in- Tanya! Stella prepared a big cup of strong, black coffee for her bestie and sat down to listen to her.
Tanya kept playing with the cup's handle and stared at the coffee as though she was looking for something, her eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
Stella- Hey Tanya! What happened? Did Alex say something again? Did you guys fight?
Tanya- I left him, Stella.
Stella knew it was serious when Tanya seemed calm over the phone. Even now, her voice and demeanour were calm.... Too calm! And unbothered.... Tanya didn't sound sad or angry or upset nor was she complaining or cribbing about anything.
Stella- Are you serious? You left him? Why?
Tanya- After 10 years of marriage, I finally realised Alex hasn't grown as a person at all! He is still what he was ten years back. He just makes me feel useless!
Stella- Tell me clearly.
Tanya- You know we got married after a lot of resistance from both sides. Over the years, my parents accepted our marriage, but his parents still haven't, completely!The fact that I am a working woman, staying in another city on my own and living independently didn't go down well with them.
Stella- Typical! It's always the same everywhere! But you were working even before marriage, isn't it?
Tanya- Yes. Alex never had a problem then! But now he is after my life to leave this job! I refused. This time he even told me it's his house and his rules! So, I left. First thing in the morning.... You know what? In the last 10 years, this is the first time I came out smiling from that house! Before we got married, I always had this confidence in myself. Somehow, from the moment I entered Alex's house, my confidence dropped.... I felt so useless! I tried to do things they liked, in the way they expected of me, but I was always lacking.... I just wasn't good enough.... I wasn't enough.... I think that's where I went wrong! I should have respected myself a little more and not desperately try to please others by pretending to be someone I'm not! After all, that's the me Alex fell in love with!
Stella- Tanya, you must never think you are lacking or you aren't enough.... Believe me, it was tough for me to match up to my 'perfect' mother! Whether it was beauty or brains or smartness, I was not even half of what she is! I had to leave home for my own sanity! I was suffocating.....
Tanya- I know... We were always so impressed with Aunty's beauty and talent!! Stella, will you be surprised if I tell you I don't intend to go back to that house? Well, not right now at least! I want to stay away for sometime.
Stella- No, I'm not surprised... Sometimes staying apart makes you realise what's missing in your life and helps to put things in the right perspective! I know if you thought about that, then you tried your best but the situation is really bad and possibly beyond repair! I also know there's more, so carry on.... I'm all ears!
Tanya- You know me so well.... Well this was the proverbial last straw actually! I tried my best to adjust and meet the expectations they had out of me. I also ignored the sarcastic remarks and rude behaviour which was normal in Alex's absence, considering they are way older and parents of the man I love. My clothes, my hair, my hobbies and interests, my lack of cooking skills- everything was up for criticism! Finally, it happened once in his presence too, but Alex never stood up for me! He didn't even try to comfort me.... When I lost my brother two years back, I was expected to behave normally, like nothing had happened! I tried my best in front of strangers but at home, I would break down! It was then that I felt a total lack of any emotional support from Alex. I had no expectations from his parents ever. If I didn't have you, Stella, I don't know what I would have done! I was so depressed that I even thought about harming myself!
Tanya burst into tears and Stella hugged her tight....
Stella- You are such a brave girl, Tanya.... I saw how you put up a smiling face just to help your parents cope with their loss... You put your grief aside and tried to be their strength ... I know you were hurting so bad....No, sweety! You have to be strong for yourself.... You have to give yourself time to heal....
Tanya- Stella, I realised the hard way that people just don't understand unless they suffer in the same manner.... My loss made me empathise with others who lost their loved ones.... I love Alex so much but he wasn't there for me when I needed him the most! In the past few months I have learnt to rely only on myself and not depend on him even emotionally.... He made efforts, but too little, too late! For me, emotional connection is most important in a relationship and we have lost it... Even if he hugs me or holds my hand, I don't feel any sincerity... What he said this time just reinforced the fact that I never was and never will be his priority.... My fault that I put him first every time and expected the same from him .... Thank God for my job and for having no kids!!
Stella watched helplessly as her best friend cried and cried. She just hugged Tanya as she let it all out. God knows she needed to vent out her feelings.
Stella and Tanya were childhood besties and they knew each other inside out, like only best friends do! Stella's outgoing and extrovert nature drew Tanya out of her shyness. Tanya was aloof and quite an introvert, but Stella changed her, for the better. They spoke to each other every single day! When Tanya got married, she started disappearing from school/college get togethers and social media. Every holiday, every weekend was meant to visit Alex and his parents who lived in another city. She was withdrawing into her shell again! Luckily she still lived with her parents since her job was in the same place, so Stella got to see her often and talk to her.
Tanya finally composed herself. Her coffee had gone cold.
Stella went to attend to a customer, who she had a secret crush on. Tanya watched her bestie flirting with the man and remembered how Alex had wooed her after they met at a mutual friend's party! She looked sad as she thought how things went downhill after marriage..... Why is it that the girl has to 'compromise and adjust' every single time! There may be men who do that too, but it's not automatically expected out of them!
Tanya saw Stella beaming as she came to her. Her hot crush had asked her out on a date ! Stella went back to the counter and returned with a hot cup of latte. She put it in front of Tanya and said," To the best girl in the world! Time for a change of taste, babe! Time to love, respect and value yourself! Time to put yourself first! Cheers! Here's your cup of confidence, darling! Enjoy!"
With a smile on her face, Tanya lifted the cup and said," To ME!"