On evenings like these, her mind often scuttles down old memory lanes. Back in school, she would spend such evenings lost in homework – yes, the teachers would always set out loads, even in those days. When she lived away in the hostel, working towards her Masters, the evenings would silently transform into night, unknown to her. Many an evening had disappeared even later when she, stuffed in her cubicle at work, remained lost in her computer screen. When she finally emerged under the open sky, the stars would be too distant, too unfriendly to talk to.
There came a series of evenings when her life turned staccato.
One moment she would be on the road, thinking about deadlines at work. Stories yet to be sent in, articles yet to be fleshed out. The next moment she would be home, obsessing over dinner. It was a rushed existence, one that left her no time to notice the evenings go by. Yet they did, quietly slinking into oblivion. She had heard tales of women managing both worlds with ease, slipping from the corporate chair to the homemaker’s with élan. For several evenings therefore, she let the raindrops dance on her rooftop unheeded. “What a wonderful manager you are!” the world would say to her.
A couple of evenings ago, however, the stars shifted. The world around her started whispering – very audibly – some rather queer things. “What on earth do you do with yourself?” She had tried explaining that she worked, albeit primarily from home. She was now a freelance writer. “Does it even pay?” It pays enough, she had said. There came knowing glances, sympathetic grunts. She had finally, they assumed, grown weary of the rush and given in to the much talked about, yet undervalued, role of a homemaker. An existence without an office cubicle, after all, was no existence at all.
After a point, to her surprise, explanations didn’t seem necessary. She didn’t need to conform to the world’s misplaced perceptions about a successful woman. Adhere to the biased scale with which they weighed people’s achievements. She was free to rearrange her priorities at will. These days, her evenings would be alive with the laughter of her five-year old. The air would be fragrant with the promise of a quiet dinner with her husband. When the sun rose each morning, she focused on the deadlines she had to meet. In closer proximity to the ones she held dear, however, she found she worked better.
In her scheme of things, there was only one perfect scale to measure success – happiness. And happy she was.