“Fika”

It was a warm afternoon in early spring. The soft breeze was a bit chilly yet felt cozy. All I wanted to do was take a nap. And then I had the craving, for Fika. A traditional Swedish coffee break. I had been working from home for the past 1 month and Fika had become my most favorite part of the day. It was quite a tradition in Sweden. An opportunity to socialize, meet new people and enjoy the company of loved ones with a side of Coffee. I yearned for a large cup of coffee with a side of cake. But since I could not have coffee, thanks to the tiny human growing inside of me, I settled for herbal tea but with a side of 3 layered chocolate cake. Though the cake made me happy, but I knew in my heart who it was I wanted this break with the most.

The pregnancy had its own phases. Some days I felt very lethargic and then other days I enjoyed taking long walks with Tiger. Sweden had welcomed me with open arms, I had felt like home from the very first time I landed in this beautiful country. I had the best of friends who loved and cared for me more than any family member ever did. And I had the best companion in Tiger, he was my hyperactive, growly very large baby. I now only wished for a happy and healthy human baby surrounded by these loved ones. I was too excited for this new chapter in my life. Just a few more weeks to go before the big reveal.

The pregnancy was no surprise. In fact, I had planned every little detail. I had chosen the sperm after a long and refined search. I chose the month I wanted to get pregnant. I even had the perfect outfit picked out for the day I was going to be inseminated. After only a week I had peed on the stick and two beautifully paralleled pink lines emerged. I was now blessed with a tiny human to love and care for, for the rest of my life.  

Growing up I had always been a tough child out of the 3 of us. My mother hated my incessant need to question everything and anything. As a girl, it was thought to be rude and shameless if I asked too many questions. Questions were welcomed but only in the likes of, ‘should I make tea for everyone? Since I am the only girl in the house and the boys here live in a world of casual entitlement unlike me?’. I was given the freedom to be the best version of the daughter my parents yearned for after the 2 sons.

I was different but not that much. I too like my brothers had chosen to be an Engineer, believing my parents would be proud of my decision. After all it was quite easier to find the perfect match for a well -educated girl. The only difference was, unlike my brothers I went to a mediocre college because that is what my father could afford after sending his two sons to high stature institutes. So, after my engineering, I decided to take matters in my own hands. I worked for a couple of years and then paid on my own for the master’s degree. Now that in itself was a big fight. A fight with parents to study more and delay marriage. A fight with the office employers to get paid equally as my male colleagues. Though I must confess with my knowledge and exceptional skills, I deserved much more. But I made my peace with equal pay. Even though I was very politely asked to shrink myself to fit into the beautiful box of societal pressures I grew taller and taller, after all I was a basketball player in school, a real good one. In fact, I was as tall as my brothers, which made finding a match for me even tougher. “Don’t wear heels when you go to meet the boy.” I always wore at least 2 inches of heel not out of spite but because I loved wearing high heels.  

After the master’s degree, my parents had done the impossible. They had succeeded in finding 3 eligible boys who were as tall as me. But sadly all of them were mediocre in their thinking and too clingy. It was like being asked to wear a piece of jewelry chosen by my very loving but extremely traditional mother that I just could not even look at, let alone wear it. But honestly, I like to compare this tradition to having a face tattoo designed by the parents and made by a mediocre tattoo artist. So after months of fighting and arguments, I left home for a job in a different town. My parents refused to acknowledge my existence. I had bought extreme shame and disrespect to the family. The only saving grace was the support of my 2 brothers. After all these years of living in casual entitlement, they both had met 2 extremely intelligent women who very smoothly had turned these two brats into feminists. Or should I say, into 2 human beings I was proud to share a family name with?

I was always a hard worker, so it wasn’t difficult to find good opportunities in the work front. I liked to follow rules, not traditions. I longed for freedom, not loneliness. So after 3 years of not speaking to my parents, I decided to give our relationship another shot by visiting them once again. But for my parents, things were different now. After years of caring too much and basing their respect in the society on my shoulders, they had become indifferent to me completely. They no longer cared if I got married or lived with anyone. I must confess their behavior had scarred my heart especially to see my mom make no effort to cook my favorite meal or prepare in any way for my arrival. I missed her so much but my anger got the best of me. Like them, I too gave up on that relationship. My mother was not interested in giving me a head massage (a very important ritual every Friday before the weekly hair wash) and so I oiled my hair by myself, in front of her.

I had felt the real pain of loss when My mother told me that I had failed as a daughter. A daughter who was considered Goddess Laxmi and was nurtured so well to be the best daughter-in-law and then eventually an excellent mother. This was the last time I saw my parents. I left home that day only to leave my country to settle in Sweden for a better job opportunity with complete freedom from this society and its downsides.

The warm afternoon and pregnancy hormones were working their charm today, and I started to cry for my mother. and just for a moment my emotions got the best of me and I called her not realizing the time difference. She picked up right away and we both cried hearing each other’s voices. All she could say was, “I miss you my Gudiya.” It was then I told her that I was pregnant. And that I was not married to anyone and had no plans in the near future as well. She cried a little more, less than I had expected her to be considering the bomb I just dropped on her. She asked if I would like her to come over when the baby is born to help me in the early days. I happily replied telling her the tickets are booked for her and dad.  

The warm afternoon had done more than I expected it to. Today’s Fika became the most special one reconnecting hearts long forgotten. 

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