Part of the excitement was because she would see her old friend, Riya. During their school days, she and Riya were inseparable and she had been in awe of Riya’s rich and affluent family. In fact she remembered the first time she had been to Riya’s house she had felt amazed to realize that Riya’s bedroom was larger than her entire house.
Shalini’s father was a lowly government employee and her harried mother had to run the house and look after her three children in her husband’s meagre income. Over the years Shalini and Riya had lost touch, so she had been pretty excited to see her old friend.
But now looking at her friend, in her finest dress and expensive, yet classy jewelry, Shalini felt embarrassed about her own modest appearance. She had worn her best silk sari and her husband, dressed in formal clothes, had assured her that she looked just fine. Her two children were running around the buffet table, delighted to see the assortments of sweets and dishes. Shalini tried to hush them down but their excitement couldn’t be dampened.
As she saw Riya’s well behaved children sitting obediently at the table, she felt uneasy. It was obvious that her friend had married into a wealthy, affluent family. All her life Shalini had wished that she was rich enough to buy what her heart desired, that every time she wanted to shop something for herself she did not have to cut corners from her family’s needs.
Shalini’s husband came and circled his arms around her waist and whispered something in her ears. Shalini laughed, throwing her head back.
Riya felt a wave of sadness wash over her as she looked at the merry picture that Shalini and her family portrayed. She looked back at her own husband, talking animatedly on the phone, so busy in his business and professional life that he had had no time for his family at all. In fact Riya had to beg him to come to this function and he had warned her that he would be able to attend only for half an hour, before leaving for his meeting.
She looked at her own children who seemed so well-behaved that they almost looked artificial. She wished that her children were more like Shalini’s who seemed to have so much fun running around and acting like kids.
All her life she had lived in a sham of a family. Her father had been much like her husband, busy in his office and meetings and no time to give for his family. Her mother lived in her own world of alcohol, secret affairs and kitty parties. Whenever she visited Shalini’s house she had envied about how close her family was. She wished to be hugged, to be cared but her parents never had any time for her. She lived a lonely life inside her palatial prison.
She had hoped that after marriage her life would change, that her husband would provide the love that she yearned for. But destiny had dealt her a huge blow. Her husband, who was the owner to the multibillionaire conglomerate, rarely came home. And when he did, he was busy in his phone calls or meetings.
As the two friends hugged each other they, in their quest for a perfect life, envied each other, not knowing that what they had in their own life was precious too, in the eyes of the other.