THE SINGLE MOTHER
Fiction Short Story
THE SINGLE MOTHER
“It’s one year since your divorce – have you thought of getting married
again…?” I asked Nisha.
“No…” she said.
“Why…? You are so young…” I said to her.
“I want to focus on my son…” she said, “he is the only thing in my life
Nisha looked at me and spoke in a resolute voice.
“My son means everything to me – I quit my successful career in Mumbai –
and – I took up this modest job as a teacher in this school up here in the
hills – because I want my son to get the best education…” she said.
“Yes – this is a really good school – internationally acclaimed – top
class, elite and famous – it must be very expensive…” I said to her.
“My son gets free education – that’s the perk I get as a teacher – and –
I am the warden of the girls’ hostel – so – I get free accommodation too…” she
“You really love your son a lot – you sacrificed your career for him –
and your friends and your active social life in Mumbai…” I said to her.
“I didn’t want him growing up in that bohemian atmosphere – my son is 12
now – he will be 13 soon – a teenager – of impressionable age – over there – in
Mumbai – with me spending long hours at work – he may have drifted – but here –
faraway in the hills – the environment in the school campus is conducive for
studies and all-round development – and – I am there for him 24/7 – remember – as
a single parent – I have to be his mother and father both…” she said.
“Yes – a child needs both mother and father – you shouldn’t have got
divorced…” I was saying – when Nisha rudely interrupted me.
“What do you mean “I shouldn’t have got divorced”…? How could I
live with that unfaithful adulterous bastard…? Don’t you know…? He was disloyal
to me – he cheated on me…” Nisha said, angrily.
“You cheated on him too…” I said to her.
“Just once – it was “revenge sex” – on the rebound – when I found out he
being unfaithful and was cheating on me – but – his was a full-fledged
extramarital affair – I think he has married that woman too…” she said – and
looked at me – with a question in her eyes.
“Yes – he married her last month – after her divorce came through…” I
“Good for him – let him do what he likes – I don’t care – I just want
him out of our lives…” she said – with a tinge of bitterness in her voice.
“I believe he gave you full permanent custody of your son…” I said to
“Yes – my son is mine – 100% - he can’t even visit him – he has given it
in writing…” she said.
“That’s generous of him…” I was saying – when I saw her flare up.
“Generous…? What nonsense are you talking…? I gave up everything – no
alimony – no maintenance – no child support – I didn’t take a single rupee from
him – not even my share in the house – nothing – absolutely nothing – I took
nothing from him – I just wanted my son – that’s all…” she said, vehemently.
“It’s surprising that he gave up visitation rights for life – I thought
he loved your son…” I said, confused.
“Well – my lawyer “convinced” him…” she said, with a canny look.
“Oh My God…!!!” I said, appalled, “don’t tell me you…”
“Let’s not talk about it…” she interrupted me, “I wanted my son
exclusively for myself – so – we had to use these tactics…”
“But…” I tried to say – but she interrupted me again.
“I don’t want his influence on my son – please try to understand – I
desperately love my son – I will bring him up all by myself – that’s why I have
“burnt my bridges” and come here…” she said, proudly, “I have even told my
father that I want nothing from him…”
“Why…?” I asked her – I knew that her mother had died in her childhood –
she had no siblings – and her father was her only close living relative.
“My father was vehemently opposed to my marriage with that man – he
didn’t even attend the wedding – and now that my marriage has failed – I don’t
think I will be able to bear his sadistic rebukes and hear him say “I told you
so” – I’d rather struggle myself – rather than be at his mercy…” she said, with
a tinge of haughtiness in her tone of voice.
Suddenly – the door opened – and her son came in – a handsome boy –
dressed in sports gear – he had come home after a game of football – his
evening organized sports session.
He smiled at me – wished me “Good Evening” – and went inside.
Nisha looked at me.
“I think you should go now…” she said to me, “it’s almost 6 PM – and – I
have to supervise the evening study session…”
“Yes…” I said, “if you need anything – don’t hesitate to ask me – I’ll
give you my card – you can call me – email – and I’ll be there for you…”
“That’s so kind of you – but – I can manage by myself…” she said,
“I know…” I said, took out my visiting card from my wallet and gave it
to her, “just in case – no harm keeping my card…”
Nisha took my visiting card and kept it on the table.
Then – Nisha looked at me – and she spoke in a polite yet firm tone of
“I have one request…” she said to me.
“Yes…?” I said, wondering what she wanted.
“Please don’t come here again – and don’t ever try to contact me…” Nisha
said to me – and then – she escorted me out of her home and closed the door.
I was stunned by her snub – and – I felt hurt at the way she had
I decided that I would never ever contact Nisha or try to meet her
A few years later – while browsing the Sunday Supplement of my Newspaper
– I saw a photo of Nisha.
Below the photo there was a story about Nisha and her son.
The story was all praise for Nisha – and described – how – as a single
mother – she had conquered various tough challenges – and – how splendidly she had
brought up her son – who had performed brilliantly – topped his school exams and
won a prestigious scholarship to study overseas.
There were pictures of Nisha and her son too – who looked a handsome
young man – and his quote that Nisha was the best mother in the world.
There was praise for Nisha from various persons – admiration for how she
had sacrificed her own career ambitions – and dedicated her life to single parenting
her son – who had turned out to be such a brilliant young man.
I felt happy for Nisha – she had achieved what she had wanted to achieve
– her devotion to parenting her son had borne fruit.
Out of curiosity – I “Googled” her name – and – I saw that Nisha was quite
active on Social Media – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.
I browsed through her recent posts on Facebook – and I saw that she was
obsessed with her son for whom she was all praise – there were so many pictures
of her son – and she had written so much about their love for each other – and eulogizing
her son and extolling his virtues.
The most recent picture – clicked a few days ago – was of her son at the
Delhi Airport – before his flight overseas to study abroad – with a sentimental
comment by Nisha below about how she was already anticipating the “empty nest
syndrome” once her son left and she would be all alone.
A few months later – Nisha surprised me by coming to my office unannounced.
“You don’t seem to be happy to see me…” Nisha said to me.
“No. No…” I said to her, “I was surprised at your unexpected visit – you
didn’t call or anything…”
“I wanted to surprise you…” she said.
“On a visit to Mumbai…?” I asked her.
“I came to see you…” she said.
“Anything urgent…?” I asked her.
“Yes – urgent and important…” she said.
“Okay – I’ll just tell my secretary to see that we are not disturbed…” I
said to Nisha.
While speaking to my secretary on the intercom – I looked at Nisha.
She seemed fatigued – her face looked haggard.
I was surprised at the metamorphosis in her appearance – her youthful
vivaciousness had gone – and – there was only a slight hint of her earlier beauty.
I wondered how she had managed to look so good in her online photos –
maybe – it was the magic of “filters”.
Nisha must have noticed that I was looking at her.
“Why are you staring at me so intently…?” she asked me.
“You look tired…” I said to Nisha.
“I brought up my son single-handedly…” Nisha said, “it was very
difficult – financially – and very exhausting emotionally too…”
“Yes – that’s really praiseworthy…” I said to her, “you have succeeded
so well – your son has turned out to be such a bright boy…”
“Thank you…” she said.
“I have been following you on Facebook – on Twitter, Instagram too – and
– I really admire you – you have brought up your son so well – you dedicated
your life to him – and now – he has done you proud by getting that coveted
scholarship overseas – I saw your post saying “goodbye” to him at Delhi Airport…”
I said to her.
“Thank you once again…” she said.
Then – Nisha looked at me and spoke.
“You said that I look “tired” – didn’t you…? I look terrible – don’t I…?”
she asked me.
“No. No…” I tried to say – but she interrupted me.
“For so many years – I focused totally on my son – I dedicated my life
100% to bringing him up properly – so – maybe – that’s why I neglected looking
after my own self…” she said, “but don’t worry – I will look after myself now
and become the same beautiful Nisha you knew…”
I didn’t know what to say.
I wondered why Nisha had suddenly landed up at my office out of the
Nisha must have sensed my thoughts.
“You must be wondering why I have come from Delhi to Mumbai to see you –
unannounced – so – let me get to the point straightaway…” she said.
“Yes…” I said, “tell me…”
“When you had come to meet me last time – you had asked me to marry
you…” she said, “is the offer still open…?”
I was taken aback – dumbstruck.
We looked at each other in silence – a grotesque silence.
Then – I gathered my wits and spoke – mumbling incoherently.
“I think you misunderstood – I generally asked you if you wanted to get
married because one year had passed since your divorce – I didn’t propose
marriage to you…” I said, trying to explain.
Nisha smiled like a Cheshire Cat.
“Come on – do you think I am naïve…? I know you are in love with me –
you always were – ever since school…” she said with a loving smile.
I kept quiet – not knowing what to say – because what she was saying was
Nisha looked into my eyes and spoke in a candid tone of voice.
“Do you want to marry me…?” she asked me, matter-of-factly.
“I am quite confused…” I muttered.
“Why…?” she asked me.
“By the suddenness of events – you unexpectedly come to my office – and
– out of the blue – you propose marriage to me…” I said to her.
“I thought you would say “Yes” instantly…” Nisha said, “I found out that
you are still unmarried – I suspect it is because of me – you still love me –
“Yes…” I mumbled, “but please give me some time – I am terribly confused
“Okay – we’ll meet for dinner in the evening – you can tell me then…”
“Dinner…? Where…?” I asked her.
“Come to my hotel room…” she said, “we can talk more intimately and
privately than in a restaurant – and bring a bottle of wine…”
Nisha took out her visiting card and gave it to me.
“My private mobile number, the name of the hotel and room number – I have
written everything on the reverse…” she said, “call me on my private mobile number…”
I looked at Nisha’s visiting card.
“Impressive…” I said, “I didn’t know you did so many things besides
“Once we get married – I am going to give up everything – and be a
loving wife – that’s all – I have slogged too much and for too long – I need
relaxation – and love – and plenty of…” she was saying – when there was a knock
on the door.
“Come in…” I said in a loud voice.
“My colleague Monika entered.
She smiled at Nisha.
Then – she looked at me and spoke.
“Sorry to interrupt – but we have our weekly review meeting in five
minutes time…” my colleague Monika said.
“Oh, yes…” I said to Monika, “you go ahead – I’ll join you soon…”
Monika left my office.
“I think I’ll go now…” Nisha said to me.
“Yes…” I said to her, “we’ll meet in the evening…”
“Come at 8 – I’ll be waiting for you in my hotel room…?” Nisha said with
a loving smile.
After the weekly review meeting was over – Monika walked along with me
to my office.
“Who was that woman…?” Monika asked me.
“Nisha – she was married to one of my friends…” I said to her.
“What do you mean “was married” – did her husband die – or is she
divorced…?” Monika asked me.
“Divorced…” I said, matter-of-factly.
Monika looked at me in a curious manner.
“Tell me everything – about her – about you and her…” Monika said to me.
Dear Reader - knowing Monika – I knew it was best for me to tell her the
whole story – about Nisha and Me – the story I have told you till now.
After hearing the story – Monika gave me a questioning look.
“Tell me something…” she said.
“What…?” I asked her.
“You told me that this Nisha had “revenge sex” – was it with you…?”
Monika asked me – with an inquisitorial look in her eyes.
“Yes…” I said truthfully, “but it was long ago…”
Monika gave me a naughty smile.
“And now – this Nisha – she wants to marry you…” Monika said.
“Yes…” I said, sheepishly.
“And you…? Do you want to marry
her…?” Monika asked me.
“If I would have married her then
– it would have been because I loved her. If I marry her now – it would be
because I pity her. I don’t want a marriage based on pity – I want a marriage
based on love…” I said to Monika.
“Love…? Or – Attraction…?” Monika
I was amazed at her perception.
Monika was right – then – Nisha
looked so chic and beautiful – and I had been “attracted” to Nisha – now –
Nisha looked haggard and worn-out – and though – I wouldn’t go so far as saying
that I was “repelled” by her – I certainly wasn’t “attracted” to her.
I smiled at Monika – held her
hand – and spoke.
“You are right – it was
“attraction” – now – she certainly doesn’t look “attractive” – at least to me…”
I said to Monika.
“And me – do you love me – or –
are you attracted to me…?” Monika asked me, with a mischievous look.
“You certainly look attractive…”
I said to her.
Monika burst out into a laugh.
“You are so brutally honest –
that’s what I love about you…” Monika said with a lovely smile.
Monika got up from her chair –
walked across to me – came close – looked into my eyes – and spoke to me in a
loving tone of voice.
“Let’s get married…” Monika said
to me – and – before I could react – she kissed me full on the lips – and I
kissed her back.
I looked at Monika – she looked
very desirable – I wanted to take her in my arms and make love to her – but
then – this was my office.
So – I calmed the fires inside me
– and – I looked at Monika.
“Is there something you want to
tell me…?” Monika asked me.
“Nisha has called me for dinner…”
I said to Monika.
“Don’t go…” Monika said.
“But – I have to tell her…” I
said to Monika.
“I will tell her – connect her
number and give me your phone…” Monika said.
I picked up Nisha’s visiting card,
turned it around and showed it to Monika.
“She told me to call her on this
number – her private mobile number…” I said to Monika.
“I will talk to her from your
number – give me for mobile phone…” Monika said.
I gave Monika my smartphone.
Monika called Nisha – she spoke
to Nisha in an emphatic voice – and – she told Nisha unequivocally that she
(Monika) was my fiancée – and – in an imperative tone of voice – Monika
“warned” Nisha to keep away from me.
I was stunned by Monika’s
demeanor – but – before I could recover my wits – Monika disconnected the call
– gave me my smartphone – looked into my eyes – and she said to me in a mischievous
“We don’t want ghosts of your past
haunting our marriage – do we…?”
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This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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