époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
definition: /time/era/period

Overtaking a small, compact Polo with her purring CR-V, Sanjana managed to squeeze into the minutest of spaces right at the edge of the crossing the very second the traffic light turned red. Cursing under her breath, she settled in for the wait. 

     She was already late to drop Varun, her six-year-old son who was jabbering away in the backseat, to kindergarten. Varun was a happy child, rarely bothering her with tantrums, satisfied building his forts and castles and playing the odd racing game on her iPad.

     Varun had lots of friends to play with, and though he was shy, his infectious energy drew adults and children alike to him. Sanjana had known her son was a gentle soul, but only when he was about three years old. You might think that a mother would instinctively have known everything about her own child the day he was born, but then Sanjana would have to call you out on your bullshit. She was 23 when she had Varun, and 22 when she got married. Postpartum depression had arrived swiftly and mercilessly and had hit her hard.

     Sanjana had always got whatever she had wanted. Good school, popular friends, a reputed college and in that exclusive college had met her husband-to-be, Aayush. They'd fallen in, whatever the hell it was they had fallen in, and seeing as they were both supremely wealthy and viewed life more like a social media race than anything well, real, they had decided to marry. 

     Sanjana had walked into her parents' bedroom and told them of her decision to marry Aayush, as though daring them to remonstrate with her. Her parents, two eminently sensible people who had seen this coming a mile away, had merely looked at each other and smiled. They told her they would be perfectly willing to speak with Aayush's parents, who they already knew socially, and settle the matter. Simple.

     At the same time as Sanjana's parents had been talking to their only child, Aayush's mother told her son they expected him to get married, and soon. Aayush, sensing the perfect opportunity, had informed his mother about his choice of bride. Taken aback for a minute, Aayush's mother deemed Sanjana an excellent choice - wealthy, same familial background - and nodded her assent. She would speak to Aayush's father and settle the matter. Simple. But just before she left his room, she remembered a memory long suppressed, an 11-year old Aayush under the covers with a servant boy, fondling each other and giggling with the simple innocence of youth. Shaking her head as if to clear the thought, she went to have a word with her husband.

     In a matter of months Sanjana and Aayush were married but cracks began to appear almost immediately. They had both been mildly attracted to each other and had mistaken it for the real thing. It never entered either of their heads to consider alternatives or contemplate any form of therapy. They both just learned to live with it and pose for Snapchat. One Sunday morning, Sanjana found out she was pregnant. After the initial shock had faded, she felt a twinge of regret and a dollop of fear. The fact that she wasn't happy didn't even register in her mind.

     Nine uncomfortable months later, she finally felt a moment of bliss when she held her son in her arms for the first time and forgot about the misery of childbirth. 

     Six years later, she was no longer the dewy, arrogant girl she had once been. She had learned to accept her husband would never be her soulmate and so she sought comfort in labels and parties. Life had become a series of hectic, social days and nights out at flashy clubs meeting people she could flaunt her newly-acquired dresses and jewellery to. Since she had never known any other kind of life, she didn't feel overly concerned. She just accepted.

     Updating her FB status on her new iPhone 7, she was barely paying attention as her son explained to his GI Joe figurine - "But that's how daddies kiss their sons, Joey, first you take your shorts off and then you kiss, that's what daddy taught us remember?"

     And then the light turned green.

Mehar Luthra
Short Story // And then the light turned green

Mehar is a 27-year-old coffeeholic from New Delhi, India who, having received a scholarship, is undertaking an M.A. in Creative Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  She's is also the proud holder of an LL.B. degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. Mehar devoted four years to editing, writing, proof-reading and generally being the Girl Friday at the city online recommendation portal called So Delhi where she held the designation of Editorial Head. 

 

Mehar was born and raised in an upper-middle-class family in India and she states that she has ‘seen, firsthand, the cloud of privilege that surrounds people who don't have to worry where their next meal is coming from, and how that privilege forms a haze around their existence. Daily subsistence problems seem, to such people, non-existent and they find themselves somehow detached and at arms-length from the world at large.’ Mehar likes to explore this experience in her writing and the piece we have included here looks at the frenetic pace of modern life, the pressures of a consumerist lifestyle and how people can be blinded by the social media constructed image of themselves to the determent of those who depend upon them.