Contemporary Fiction

All Those Tears We Can't See

By

This book will launch on Aug 17, 2020. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒
Synopsis

All Those Tears We Can't See addresses a lot of topics--immigration, opportunity, spirituality, myth, wisdom, class, customs, poverty, corruption and physical assault in India. It is a story of India and the USA.
• The new novel follows an Indian woman who migrated from India to America and finds difficulties due to lack of money and cultural differences but later have achieved “American dream” which is America’s achievement as well.
• It was difficult and traumatic for young Samantha to leave everything behind and starts a new life in the U.S.,
As an adult Samantha (or Shimonti as she was known as a child) races to her native India, now modern and much changed, in search of her daughter, Monica. Their fragile relationship of late has finally been shattered over the issue of interracial marriage, Samantha reexamines her life growing up in India. India’s heartbeat resonated from ancient times of harmony, in diversity. When Monica is raped in India Samantha seeks justice for her daughter as Samantha realizes that her daughter’s happiness should come first, and accept Brandon who is Christian as her son-in-law. But will she be able to move beyond her cultural beliefs to do so?

What’s the time now? Shimonti, now Samantha (her

American name), looked at her watch, half past one.

Martha should have fed her baby by now. She had specifically

instructed Martha to feed Moni by one. But had she?

Samantha was doubtful. Most likely she was watching some

raunchy soap on TV, or listening to music on her cell phone.

She had not liked the attitude of that girl from the very beginning;

some American ‘don’t-care’ type, always chewing gum,

even while talking. But which American teenager was not like

that? It wouldn’t have been any better if she had called someone

else.

Should she call home and check on Martha now? Samantha

looked at the X-ray plates lying on her desk. One more left. It

would take another ten minutes to write the reports.

It took less. Samantha reached for the phone. It kept on

ringing. Samantha felt a surge of anger swelling up inside her.

What was the girl doing? Gone to sleep or what?

The ringing stopped. Someone picked up the phone. There

was the sound of shuffling and dragging. Why was she taking

so much time to pick up the phone?

“Hello.”

A soft voice was heard at the other end. Samantha’s heart

GITA AUDHYA

♦ 2 ♦

jumped and melted at the same time. Her baby! Her little girl

Monica! Saying hello to her on the phone!

“Baby? Is it you?” Samantha asked fondly. “Ma?”

“Oh, baby! Where is your Martha Auntie?”

A silence was on the other end. Then Monica spoke again

in her sleepy baby voice.

“She is in the other room, talking with Tim.” “Tim?” Who

is Tim? She thought to herself.

It took a couple of seconds for Samantha to realize what

was going on. Blood shot to her head.

The girl had turned out to be wilder than she had thought.

“Will you please call Martha, baby?” Samantha told her kid.

She heard Monica putting down the receiver on the table.

A surge of warmth flooded her heart.

The little girl, who only a while back could only say ‘Ma,’

was now answering the phone. But that girl! What is she doing?

The warmth melted into rage as Samantha thought of the

babysitter. Has that girl brought a boyfriend into the house?

“Yes, ma’am?” Martha’s voice was heard on the receiver.

Who else is there in the house! Samantha wanted to

scream, but did not. It wouldn’t be right. These girls could get

pretty nasty at times. If she yelled at her now, she could vent

her wrath on her baby.

“Did you feed her, Martha?” she asked in a cold voice.

“I am preparing. It will be ready in a minute,” came the

reply.

She was lying. Samantha took a deep breath to cool her

nerves.

“I told you to feed her by one, didn’t I?”

“I will do it right now,” the girl replied in a gum-chewing

voice.

Samantha hung up the phone. A feeling of helplessness

overcame her. If only she could go to her baby now. She would

call some other babysitter tomorrow. This one was totally irresponsible.

How dare she bring her boyfriend over? The

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♦ 3 ♦

thought made Samantha’s ears burn. The guy was still there

and who knew what they were doing!

“Won’t you be coming with me for lunch?” Patty appeared

at the door.

Samantha looked up at Patty Langford, her colleague and

junior radiologist. Samantha was senior to this smiling blonde

girl, both in age and designation, but that had not become a

hurdle in their friendship. Patty was now a family friend, often

visiting their house. She was very fond of Monica, and had

given her a big teddy at her birthday. Monica liked her, too.

“What’s the matter, Sam?” Patty asked. “You seem to be in

an off mood.” Samantha told Patty about the babysitter.

“I need to look for another one.” She shook her head in

indignation. “This one is too hot to handle!”

“Then better look for a granny!” Patty suggested with a

chuckle. “Any young girl as a babysitter would bring her boyfriends

into the house. I did when I sat kids during my high

school vacations. No big deal.”

Samantha looked at Patty and sighed, showing her frustration.

It was in these moments that she felt so helpless in

this country. Everything was so different here, the mindset

in particular. It would be no less than a scandal in Kolkata

(Calcutta) – a young girl bringing a guy into the house! But

here it was a way of life! Even the concept of babysitters was

non- existent back in India. There was always someone in the

house to look after the kids. And even if there was no one, the

kids could be safely deposited with the neighbors who would

take care of them until the parents returned, feeding the kids,

bathing them, even pottying them and mostly free of cost, just

for the sake of neighborly love. Here, even if Samantha called

the girl next door to look after Monica for a couple of hours,

the girl had to be paid handsomely.

“Are you coming or not?” Patty hastened.

Samantha rose reluctantly from her seat. Her appetite had

gone. Her baby had not had her lunch on time, and Samantha

GITA AUDHYA

♦ 4 ♦

did not feel like eating, but unwillingly went with Patty. This

would be interesting and informative to talk to her about

many things about this country.

Samantha hardly ordered any food at the cafeteria, and

asked Patty to take whatever she liked. Then she initiated the

conversation. “So you can’t trust any teenager to take care of

your daughter?”

“Of course not.”

Samantha was disappointed. Patty said, “I know you

wouldn’t like many things in this country - take me for instance.

I loved one guy with all my heart but he fooled around

with many girls. It is very common here. Of course, I had no

choice but to abandon him. And unfortunately, long before, it

had happened with my husband too. It is hard to trust anybody

these days. I had to divorce him…which is very common as

you might know.”

Samantha was puzzled. “We had a very small divorce rate

in our country though many marriages are dull and without

excitement. But we don’t get divorced so fast like you do. We

don’t believe in it.”

“There are two sides to everything, Sam. Sometimes when

I am alone, and waiting for the date; it is the downside. On the

other hand, I can’t even imagine how you stay with one person

day in, day out the rest of your life. How do you do that?”

“We are brought up that way. Even if the marriage isn’t so

great, for the sake of the family, for the tradition of my country

and culture we stay in that marriage. I know you won’t

understand. Security over love, I may say. Loyalty is very important

to our country’s people. I am sure two different mindsets

– Eastern and Western.”

“Two different cultures too, ha? It is very hard to understand,

really. Women in your country compromise and sacrifice

a lot for the sake of the marriage. It is not like that here.

By the way, how is your relationship with Amit now-a-days?”

“Well, yes. Even though he is not romantic at all, but he is

ALL THOSE TEARS WE CAN’T SEE

♦ 5 ♦

always there for me. It is kind of a boring and indifferent relationship,

and if he wasn’t always busy with his career, then

may be, we could have a better life.” She complained.

“Oh, that’s not very good, Sam. I’m more concerned about

Moni though. What are you going to do about the babysitter?”

Patty was thoughtful.

“I’m thinking very carefully. I don’t know what exactly I’m

going to do, yet. It is such an appalling issue for all women to

decide what to do about their child or children if they have to

work and I feel for all single mothers in your country who had

to bring up their children all by themselves. ”

Samantha looked at her watch. “Oh, Patty, we better get

back to work, otherwise we will be late to finish.”

“Okay. I will catch up with you later. I really enjoyed the

conversation, very interesting!” Unwillingly they went back to

work. u

As soon as Samantha got home, she hugged Monica.

“I don’t like Martha,” complained Monica, the moment

Martha was gone and she was alone with her mother.

“Why, baby?” Samantha asked.

“She doesn’t play with me. Always tells me to sit quiet. She

scolded me!”

“Why did she scold you?”

“I dropped my ice cream on the floor. She didn’t give me

another one.”

“I will get you one. Do you want another one now?”

Samantha asked.

Monica nodded her head in eager consent.

Clinging on to her mother, she licked the cone with great

satisfaction. Samantha caressed her hair with great fondness.

This little thing was even more little not so long ago. On one

cold February morning, she came into her life, lighting up

GITA AUDHYA

♦ 6 ♦

her world. It had been a long wait, a pretty long one. Seven

years to be precise. They had chosen not to have a baby for the

first three years of marriage. Coming to America, they both

got busy, first in their studies and then in their jobs, delaying

the desire to be three farther and farther. And when they

decided to have a baby, finally discarding their habits with

contraceptives, they found they could not conceive. Samantha

had developed complications and it took innumerable visits to

clinics and specialists and many more nights and days of painful

longing until, finally, one day while in the kitchen her head

spun and she emptied herself in the sink.

Much had changed by then. They had achieved things after

a long struggle - the American Dream. Amit had set up

his own clinic in California, the land of movie stars, earning

loads of money and a reputation as an orthopedic surgeon in

the process. They had moved out of the one-room apartment

in New York. They had endured lots of hardship and doubt

over the years, but they were always confident that they would

make it eventually.

Amit bought a big beautiful house in California with a

swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and palm trees. She still remembered

when Amit bought a BMW and asked her to drive. In her

wildest dreams, she had never thought that she would drive an

expensive car like this on her own. She realized she was now

in America, the richest country on earth.

She took a job as a senior radiologist, climbing the ladder

one step up from a junior radiologist, the designation she had

when she joined the hospital after completing her MD.

America had given them all they had desired, but the one

thing that could be achieved without migrating to a country,

without much effort, only by a spell of love followed by a spell

of pain, had eluded them for years and without it. All their

achievements seemed meaningless. Getting back to bed after

a hard day’s work followed by routine love-making, they lay

side by side, sleepless in the dark, surrounded by a consuming

ALL THOSE TEARS WE CAN’T SEE

♦ 7 ♦

hollowness. Waking up the next morning, they immersed

themselves into more work to get rid of the feeling of helplessness

only to make it more acute at the end of the day. Passing

by happy, healthy American families full of life and children,

in parks and in malls, her heart twitched in silent pain and

she felt the dryness within her suffocating her very existence.

Nothing seemed to help. The changing colors of the Grand

Canyon seemed monochrome; the night spent under the tent

at Yellowstone seemed no different from the nights spent under

the shingled roof on Castle Hill Avenue. Life was fast becoming

a monotonous slog.

Then the moment arrived; she had conceived. The prayers

kept at the Kali Temple at Baldwin and the blessing of the

Mother Goddess of Light via the dry red hibiscus made ‘blessed’

at her stony feet had finally paid off. The heaviness of pregnancy,

the pain of labor was almost pleasurable compared to the

dry days of unbearable barrenness. Samantha came back from

the hospital pressing the little ball of flesh close to her chest.

Suddenly, life was colorful. Waking up in the middle of the

night to the shrill cry and changing soiled diapers with sleepfilled

eyes seemed no big deal at all. Little Monica had filled up

the vacuum in their lives with her little heart-warming baby

ways, evaporating the hollowness that had surrounded them

before she came, cementing the disappointment that was beginning

to appear. She babbled and crawled and walked and

talked, in her crib, on the floor, in the bed, and on Samantha’s

lap, filling up the emptiness of the house and of their souls,

bringing them closer together like never before.

Days passed into months, months into years. The little ball

had grown into a beautiful little girl who ran to hug her mom

and dad, every time they returned home from work. She recited

rhymes that she had learned from her teachers and showed

the dance moves that she learnt, too, and she cried helpless

tears if her parents happened to fight, forcing them to call a

truce as soon as they started. And after a meal in the evening

GITA AUDHYA

♦ 8 ♦

on weekdays and anytime on Sundays and Saturdays, Monica

sat on her mother’s lap and listened with eager ears and wide

eyes to the stories she would tell of Sinbad the sailor and his

adventures, stories of rajahs and their sandstone palaces in

Rajasthan, of wise Birbal and Akbar the King, of Abdullah and

Marjina and the 40 thieves on whom Marjina poured hot oil.

And the stories of a magical land far, far away called Kolkata,

where her mother once lived, where everything was good –

the food and the people and their gentle, caring ways – her

father, her uncle, her aunt, her sister, her grandfather, and

her grandmother.

Samantha wanted to create a magical dream about India

for her daughter where she spent the best time of her life. She

told her the story about sleeping on the roof when it was very

hot and humid, staring at the broad, beautiful sky lit up with

the golden moon and how they would chat for hours and fall

asleep with the night’s cool breeze. She also told Monica about

the first rainstorm or monsoon of the season when the dry,

dusty, and thirsty earth waited for it and the clothes left to dry

on the roof would get wet and how Samantha would run out

under the pretense of bringing the wet clothes back in because

she wanted to be showered with the cool rain water.

“Why are you crying, Ma?” Monica would ask, wondering

why her ma’s eyes would moisten every time she narrated the

stories.

Now she was playing, sitting on the expensive carpeted

floor of her new big house, her dolls and toys strewn around.

Samantha watched with a peaceful heart. The fruit of her

love was growing before her eyes. Life and its progress was

a permutation of genes, circumstances, and luck, besides the

power of will. And prayers. She could not speculate about her

child’s willpower at such a tender age, but she had the genes

of a sensitive mother and a hardworking, practical, intelligent,

ambitious father. They would provide her with the best

opportunities that a child could get in this country. Samantha

ALL THOSE TEARS WE CAN’T SEE

♦ 9 ♦

was even ready to sacrifice everything for that. But what luck

would bring for her little girl she did not know. The tragedies

that had struck her family in the not-so-remote-past made her

shudder in apprehension at times, but then, this was America,

where despite the alienation, they were safer and they were

richer – in money and in spirit. It was no less than good luck

that her daughter was born in this land of opportunity and

hope, where one can be the person he or she wished to be, as

Amit had. She could only hope the best for her little Moni. And

pray. u

Amit returned to the bedroom, taking a look at his sleeping

daughter. This had become a habit for both of them, always

checking up on the little one. Samantha had never liked

the idea of their little daughter sleeping in a separate room,

and she still didn’t.

“How could such a little girl sleep by herself? Let her grow

up a little, and then she can sleep alone.” She had argued and

pleaded, but Amit was firm. He wanted Monica to grow up

like any other American child, independent from the very beginning.

But his paternal instinct was no less than the maternal

instinct of his wife, and the slightest noise from the other

room woke him up too. He had never grumbled while changing

diapers when Monica was smaller, and he never grumbled

now when he had to get up and pacify her when she cried in the

middle of the night, woken up by some terrifying dream.

“I am not going to keep that babysitter anymore,” Samantha

said, expecting a reply from her husband as he lay on the bed.

“You won’t get a better one,” Amit answered, turning off the

bed lamp. “They’re more or less the same.”

“But how could she bring a guy to the house? We can’t allow

this!”

“Do one thing then,” Amit chuckled. “Employ someone else

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♦ 10 ♦

to keep an eye on the babysitter.”

Samantha did not react to the humor. Amit’s response

was not a surprise. She did not expect anything else from her

‘broadminded’ liberal husband who was more than eager to

assimilate into the American way of life. It seemed to be her

problem and her problem only. The rest of the world was fine

with everything that was happening, however gross it might

be. Only she had a problem accepting things, ‘stuck in a middle

class Calcuttan mentality’, to use her husband’s words.

“I’ve been invited to lecture at the African-American

Institute, Shimu!” Amit said excitedly. “I am the first Asian to

be invited there! They are going to give me an honorary doctorate

in recognition of the AIDS awareness program I conducted.

I want you to come with me.”

Samantha did not want to respond as the thought of the

babysitter still occupied her mind. But she knew Amit would

be hurt if she remained mum. A big achievement indeed for

the high-flying doctor, though not his first and neither would

it be the last. She should be happy about his success, or at

least express it.

“Great!” she exclaimed. “When is it?” “Coming Sunday.”

“Coming Sunday? But aren’t we supposed to attend the

Bongo Sammelan in New Jersey on Sunday? We don’t want

to miss the once-a-year cultural program for the Bengalis. I

heard 8,000 Bengalis will be there to celebrate, Indian classical

music, dance, food, jewelry and socialization.”

“Oh, yes!” Amit exclaimed. “I forgot! What can be done

now? I have already accepted their invitation!”

“We have to skip the Bongo Sammelan this year then.”

Samantha tried to sound as cool as possible, but she was very

disappointed.

“Won’t you be coming with me to the felicitation?” Amit

asked.

“Okay, I will.”

A silence descended in the darkness.

ALL THOSE TEARS WE CAN’T SEE

♦ 11 ♦

“You don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about it,” observed

Amit.

“Am I not?”

“You know better.”

She was not. She had been to these felicitation programs

many times before, ornamenting her husband’s illustrious

presence. It was great to see her husband basking in glory,

and she basked in it too. His pride was her pride; his happiness

was her happiness. She had persuaded herself to believe

this age-old conviction. Some hot-shot white American hanging

a medal around her husband’s neck pinning a badge on his

lapel was indeed thrilling to watch. And even more satisfying

was the sight of a house full of whites, blacks, and browns impeccably

suited in black and charming ladies adorned in high

fashion outfits, listening to his speech in mesmerized silence,

then bursting into thunderous applause.

It reminded her of that afternoon in Calcutta where before

a hall full of young students; her father delivered his speech on

market equilibrium, equally mesmerizing the audience with

his baritone voice. She was so proud of her father in those

moments and very much upset when the speech was interrupted

by some political goons. No such bad luck for Amit. All

his seminars and speeches had gone smooth as silk, with no

interruption, no criticism, only praises and facilitation, and

medals and honor. But over time she felt tired and bored,

especially after Monica was born. She didn’t feel good at all

attending the functions, leaving her baby behind under the

care of some babysitter. She felt uneasy in the milieu, thinking

of her daughter, always worrying, always wanting to go

back home as early as possible. She never complained, carefully

camouflaging her true desire behind sugary smiles and

tired handshakes.

She was feeling the same at her work lately. In the middle

of looking at a plate or writing a report, she thought of Moni –

her baby qualms and antics, the sudden burst of laughter that

GITA AUDHYA

♦ 12 ♦

came from slightest of wonders, filling the surroundings with

sunshine. Samantha felt like leaving everything behind,

the reports and the deadlines and the programs, and rushing

back to her daughter. The more hectic her job became,

the more pangs she felt. Should she quit then? Leave her

job and spend quality time with her child, watch her grow

up before her eyes, savoring every moment of it, sharing

all the joys and pains? She knew that was what her heart

wanted her to do. Should she listen to her heart? In this

country, everyone tried to listen to their hearts and act accordingly.

She knew highly skilled professionals who had

quit their well-paid jobs just because they believed that

they were missing something very important by not being

at their children’s sides as they were growing up. She, too,

felt the same. She knew Amit would not object, he would

be happy if at least one of them was at their daughter’s side

all the time, and, after all, Amit earned so much money it

would not be a problem at all. It was she who would have

to make a choice. Between a job that she liked – a job that

was the fruit of her years of education, her father’s dream

– and something that was even more precious: her fruit of

love, her own flesh and blood. She could no longer keep

herself immune to the cries of her daughter when she left

for the office each day. She could no longer put a stone on

her heart when Moni said, “I won’t let you go, Ma. I want

you to stay with me.” Samantha would quit her job bringing

up her daughter when she needed her the most. It would

be worth the sacrifice; she had to choose at this moment.

When Moni was grown, in the future, Samantha would be

working again. She always wanted to give her, undivided

attention and bring her up with her own Indian values, her

own traditions, her own culture and religion.

Of course, this time she would attend the meeting with

her daughter and there would be no worries at any time.

“What are you thinking?” Samantha heard Amit ask.

ALL THOSE TEARS WE CAN’T SEE

♦ 13 ♦

“I am quitting my job, Amit, and it is completely my decision.

Besides, I can join your clinic later,” she replied, trying

to sound as serious as possible.

About the author

I have migrated from India to England, Canada and America to find happiness. I obtained a British job in Inland Revenue. Life was very hard as we have little money, Then I came to America for opportunity and achieved American dream. Travelling, science, art and reading any book are my pleasures view profile

Published on March 14, 2020

Published by outskirtspress.com

130000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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