An excerpt from the book, Unloved in Love by Rituparna Ghosh.

KIARA

Ma always said the chances of me being born were as impossible as pigs flying. I was a result of a rare drunken madness, a broken condom, and a botched-up abortion. The Sens were leading a perfect life, married for twelve years with two ‘winning every accolade in the book’ perfect children, staying in a perfect home right in the heart of Malleswaram, Bangalore.

She was a senior teacher in one of the famous senior secondary girl’ school on a fast track to be the Principal—she was a terror, a force to reckon with. Getting pregnant at forty-one was not on her agenda and it definitely didn’t fit her reputation. If pregnancy at such a late age was not embarrassment enough, she was stuck with me—a black spot in the tapestry of her perfect family. For neither was she called to school for me winning any academic merits like Palash (my nine years older, know-it-all brother) nor for me winning every sporting event or pageant on the earth like Pia (my eleven years older, gorgeous albeit obnoxious sister). Rather, she was called once weekly to the office of her replacement for her views on disciplinary action against me.

Ma always said the chances of me being born were as impossible as pigs flying. I was a result of a rare drunken madness, a broken condom, and a botched-up abortion.

Be it writing ‘monsters’ with permanent marker on the staff room mirror, or bursting crackers in the hallway leading to the school assembly, there was no prank too small. The more Ma tried to tone me down and conform me to her set views, the better gags elicited out of me. There was nothing in the world I loved more than shaking her up and her visions of a perfect life. As her distress with me grew, parenting me fell on my poor father’s shoulders. Baba did his best given he worked for the CBI and was rarely home during my waking hours.

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Before I hit adolescence, I’d been rusticated from one school and served two disciplinary suspensions, was notorious in the neighbourhood as the company to avoid. In the Bong community where Ma had ruled the roost and looked down on others condescendingly, the ‘Pujo’ gossip had me as the centre star for years. By the time college rolled in, I was cruising rock bottom in expectations. Nothing was asked of me really, except that I somehow graduate and stay out of trouble. Therefore, imagine the shock my family got when I not only graduated with top scores but followed it through with an admission into a reputed MBA college. Defying Ma again, because by then she just wanted to fulfil her last duty as a parent and offload me to the first man who’d be ready to marry me. Yet, somehow, I persisted and here I was, Kiara Sen, twenty-two years old, standing in my dorm room, in the last semester of MBA final year, about to embark on a path I rebelliously defined for myself.

For the first instance in a really long time, things were looking up. All I needed to do was stick to the plan and not mess up, and then I’d be free and finally in total control of my destiny.

Bryan Adam’s ‘Here I am’ was blaring in the background as my fingers flew over the keyboard of my laptop. Editing, tweaking, and re-writing my already made presentation for the most important event in my life. Truth be told it was ready since last night, but every time I tried to shut my laptop I was hit by a new idea or a wild fear that the file might just vanish. I still needed to get ready, feed my growling stomach, and make my way to the registration building for the big ‘Budding Entrepreneur’ conference.

The computer screen lit up with bright and jazzy ‘Bottomsup’—the name for my venture—together with logo which we designed. The tagline ‘Changing the world of eco diapers‘ floated in after a pause. A lump formed in my throat; our college was hosting this event for three years now. It worked as a platform for students who were starting-up, to meet and learn from the experience of existing entrepreneurs. It was a big affair and pupils from the entire southern region of India flooded the campus. This year the stakes were even higher, the Dean of the college had promised initial funding for the best business idea. Which meant, if we could break through this, it was possible for ‘Bottomsup’ to be up and running by end of next year!

For the first instance in a really long time, things were looking up. All I needed to do was stick to the plan and not mess up, and then I’d be free and finally in total control of my destiny.

Image Credit: Readomania/ Rituparna Ghosh

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Excerpted with permission from Unloved In Love by Rituparna Ghosh, Readomania.

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