Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Single Mother

Short Fiction



Fiction Short Story






“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 now…”

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 said.

“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 said, matter-of-factly.

“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 her.

“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, confidently.

“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 voice.

“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 rebuffed me.

I decided that I would never ever contact Nisha or try to meet her again.


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 blue.

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 true.

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 – don’t you…?”

“Yes…” I mumbled, “but please give me some time – I am terribly confused now…”

“Okay – we’ll meet for dinner in the evening – you can tell me then…” she said.

“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 teaching…”

“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 said, naughtily.

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 voice:

“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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