ShortStory by DanceofChaos


Last Night

When Mita went to bed yesterday, everything was perfect. Tomorrow’s clothes pressed and ready. The presentation prepared and ready in the USB stick, with backups in her email, hard disc, and another USB stick. Tomorrow’s make-up was ready. Vritya, 9, and Athir,6, were tucked in bed and they surprisingly fell asleep right on time. Their suitcases were packed and ready. It was as perfect as life could be, for a forty something single mother juggling a corporate career and raising two children, all by herself.

Tomorrow was a big day for her. She had worked hard to design and launch the new software. She was always late at work, going there around ten. She could not take early morning meetings because she was readying the kids for school. Tomorrow she wanted to go there before time and hold the presentation as the lead. Everything needed to be perfect: All those sleepless nights, all those worried comments from her parents about taking care of her health, all those snarky comment from her ex-husband and his family about what a bad mother she was. She needed this day to prove to herself, she was doing something right.

 When has life ever been easy for her.

Morning

The day started like a nightmare. She did not hear the alarm and overslept. The children would be spending the week with her ex, Sarin and he was coming to collect them at 7:00. She was just out of bed, dishevelled, eyes blood shot from too little sleep.

 The coffee machine decided to stop working today. She was busy mixing Nescafe powder and milk for herself and cocoa for her kids. And today of all the days, she switched them. Athir took one seep and shouted, „Mom! it is so bitter. What did you put in here?”. Vritya shouted: “Stop being a weirdo, just take mom’s cup. Mom seriously, can’t you do one thing right?” That quickly escalated to fighting. As Sarin walked in, he saw the house to be a chaos again. Athir and Vritya fighting, school dresses dirty, Mita running around them trying to calm them down, half ready for work, makeup half ready, one eye full of mascara, other empty. What a scene it was. Sarin crooked his eyebrow and said: “Is this the modern independent life you were denied when we were married? You should have just quit your job and stayed at home. Now I have two hooligans for your children growing up with their ghetto mother.”

 Mita wanted to scream at him. There were so many things she could have said, but what is the point. They have been hashed over and over again in the court of law, court of relatives, friends and society. She was tired and all she wanted to do was to leave everything and just give the presentation.  So she yelled at her wonderful, understanding children: “Stop being such brats, change now”, in the best mom voice she could. The children immediately mellowed. She looked at Sarin and said, “One day, I will reply to you. But today, just take your children and do your part.”

Let’s go to work

When they left, she realised she will be late again and she barely had any time to eat. She gulped down the cocoa, chewed on a biscuit and quickly got ready. Her plan to dress up as the perfect power lady completely gone.

Murphy’s law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.

Everything was going wrong today. She was already late and then the metro service was postponed due to some incident. So, she rushed out to get a cab. As she was climbing up the stairs, heels of her shoes broke. Of course, it must be today. The shoe was squeaking for the last few days and she did not pay any attention then. She could hear her mother saying, “Mita! A stich in time, saves nine”. At least she could hail a reluctant cab. Thank God for that.

She could still manage to get to the meeting in time if there was no traffic jam. But every single traffic light was red today. The cab deposited her in front of her office twenty minutes later than her usual arrival time who does she see strolling towards her from the parking lot, her boss, Mr. Right.

 No one could be more wrong right now than Richard Right. She just realised she was supposed to mail him a copy of the presentation. She wanted to quickly check it one last time before mailing him that. She completely forgot about it. Mr. Right must be furious. She needed this day to go right and it was going wrong in every possible way. Everything was piling on today. He must be thinking of her so irresponsible right now.

 A lot has been riding on this product launch. She has heard through grapevine; a new program manager will be chosen to lead the launch. Mita wanted it to be her. She knew more about the product than anyone. But others were younger, some were male. None of them needed to leave office at 5 pm sharp to pick their kids up from the crèche. Her boss was leaving the office nine, said the watchmen. He was one of those entitled males, who had the privilege to work and earn money and thought themselves to be so precious for that. He did not care she submitted her assignments on time when he strictly told her, others are beginning to complain about her coming late and leaving early. She needs to respect other people’s time. Those sleepless nights were never logged in to the system.

“The world is so unfair sometimes”, a frustrated Mita thought. She had hoped to impress her work with this demonstration and presentation. She wanted to show them, that a woman can do it all, if she receives a little understanding from everyone.

What did He Say?

Mr. Right strolled towards her and he motioned her to walk with him. He asked casually, “So, I was expecting to go over the copy beforehand.”

Mita burst into explanation and he lifted his hand and told her gently,

I know. We all have those days. You think you are the only one but my dear lady, you are not. Alyssa takes care of her elderly parents, Jayesh has an autistic child, Vic volunteers at an orphanage as teacher and sponsors kids. My wife is bedridden. I prepare everything for her before I come to work. That is why I come late and must stay later.

It does not matter. The only thing matters is your performance. Please do not get me wrong, you are a fantastic team member but a lot has been riding on it than just your promotion. You do not need to prove yourself to the team but only the management can decide. People only see what you present, they do not care what you go through.”

Mita struggled to hold her tear back. She was so busy trying to prove herself to all those naysayers, to Sarin and his conservative parents, she never realised, she was judging everyone around her work and doing the same thing to them.  She quietly resolved to be better than this.

 As he went towards his office, Mr. Right said, “I will delay the presentation by half an hour. Send me the copy.” Mita sighed in relief.

An hour later, the presentation begun. Before she was going in, she thanked her boss.

 Mr. Right just said, “Good Luck on the presentation Mita. The team is counting on you. I know you will do well today.”

Onwards and upwards

It was eight in the evening. Mita was finishing some scheduling for the upcoming launch. She is the program manager now; she has a lot of responsibility.

 The presentation was a roaring success. Mita made it a point to thank everyone of the team after the presentation was finished.  

 Her boss recommended her for the program manager.

 “Nobody knows the product better than you do. I can trust you with this launch”, he said. Her team was so happy to be part of her program now.

She did not want to go back home today, just yet. The kids are with their father. Vritya already complained how her grandmother said over Skype that she was too ambitious and outspoken. She grumbled,” Dadi said, be careful or you will end up being like your mother. I told her ‘Mom is a superhero. I want to be like her’, Dadi then disconnected the call with me.”

 All throughout the day, Mita felt so clueless, running around like a headless chicken, wondering if anything she did would ever be right. But now, she felt a soft glow of satisfaction within her. Perhaps the day was not that crazy after all.

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Also published in the momspresso blog.

Disclaimer : All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.