It was not until her twentieth birthday that Maya’s life started crumbling. You see, she was a fairly content person. She couldn’t understand why people would run away from their homes. She lived with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jha in the city of Kathmandu.“What do you get from running away from the comfort of your cosy bedroom? What could you possibly fight about that you would want to just give up everything?” As her teenage years were tucked in nicely in the clouds of her yesteryear, she slowly unraveled into the horrors of growing up.
Maya completed her high school in the summer of 2011 with satisfactory results. So the very next day that her character certificate arrived, Mr. Jha declared that he wanted his daughter to become an engineer. Yep, that’s the thing in Kathmandu. You see, you’re either studying CA, BBA, MBBS or Engineering, or not studying at all. No, Journalism is not a degree, not if you want to matter in the society. So Maya selflessly kept her father’s wish and enrolled in a college that promised the exclusive features of this college that, strictly speaking, every other college in the city had.
Much of Maya’s time went into understanding the mirage that was engineering and when she wasn’t studying she was struggling to keep up with what left of her social life. The family somehow expected her to ace her classes, join in on all the family gatherings, help with house chores and still feel like a nineteen year old. Well, she was fairly complacent about all of that. She loved being busy, plus it was just those four years, right? By 2016, she would be free, calculated the young engineer.
But the moment she turned twenty, god bless her, the avalanche of a lifetime swindled her of any peace of mind. Things were different.
“Don’t wear that. Too short”
“Ma, I wore that last year. You didn’t say anything then.”
“It’s different. Don’t wear it”
She put her knee length skirt back into her closet. No, she wasn’t angry, it’s just, parents can be a bit kooky sometimes.
“Don’t bring your guy friends over. They don’t sound like nice friends”
“Baba, Jeevan’s been my friend since I was nine. He just came over to give me these notes for next week’s test”
“You take notes from Tina, no. Such a sweet girl she is.”
She wasn’t angry. She’ll just have go to Jeevan’s place instead from now on.
The worst hit came when her family suddenly realised it was now okay to talk loudly about her wedding.
“Does Maya have a boyfriend?”
“No, Pushpa aunty, he’s just a friend.” Truth. She was way too busy to go on dates.
“But then, who are you going to marry? Or Arrange marriage huh?” Another distant relative chimed in.
Annoyed, Maya swallowed a bitter comeback.
It was bad enough that each of these relatives would later just bash their own husbands for being lousy husbands. Yeah, all the juicy details about how he didn’t buy he that expensive saree, and how he just doesn’t care anymore. But no, Maya had to find a suitor, one with lots of money, then bear children, shower her undying love to the family and then martyr her hard earned money to kids who “think money grows on trees”. Never mind that there are children dying of disease in Karnali, she had to have a wedding reception so people could make believe she found her fairy tale ending. Maya was a fairly content person, but right then, she was beginning to be almost angry.