Denied – Suparna Rijhwani

The train was almost there, yet Tanya had to close the distance of 50 meters in one minute. She picked up her pace and dashed ahead, something bumped into her legs, she didn’t want to lose a second and kicked that thing away from her path. She closed the distance and just in time boarded the train before the doors closed in on her.

She was headed to the next suburb for a short shopping spree, Lia needed a smock for her art class and it was urgent. After gathering herself together, Tanya decided to fish out her cell phone to browse the options she had at the shopping center. Her hand dipped inside her coat pocket, where she knew she always kept her phone, but her fingers closed on nothing. Alarmed, she realized that ‘the thing’ she had kicked out of her way en route to boarding the train was actually her phone. Her phone was old and needed replacement, yet it contained important stuff and needless to say it was part of her life. Simplicity is damned, her mind raced away about boarding the next train back and searching for her phone, which might lie still in the grass, near the station.

Tanya and Dev often clashed over how much technology is being used in their house, yet Tanya tried to keep it simple by cutting down on television time, not buying an IPad for Lia and also limiting Lia’s screen time. Sometimes the choices she made for Lia, who was now ten years old, made life difficult for Lia. Her peers constantly talked about new TV shows and features, or the new video game in the block. Lia felt left out and at times bullied. However, Tanya always explained her decisions to Lia, which has kind of worked out till now. Then Lia was invited for a sleepover to her friend’s birthday party and since it was her closest friend, Tanya let her go.  The next evening Lia returned, questions about the party was answered with a monosyllable, stating that she was tired Lia went to bed.

Next morning Tanya tried having a conversation with Lia, who still seemed sapped out. Instantly her mother’s heart knew that something had gone wrong at the sleepover, she dialed Amy’s number to fish out details of the sleepover. After a short chat she hanged up, her eyes brimmed up with tears, Lia, her baby was in pain and she knew it.

Amy had told Tanya that the girls had dinner and then they had asked permission to watch a movie on Netflix, Amy had allowed that with the promise that they all go to bed by 10. After that, she had gone up to her room and by 10 the girls had also retired to their room. Everything was fine except Lia was very quiet in the morning and Amy had concluded that maybe she missed home, after all, it was her first time.

Tanya had to know what happened, but Lia refused to talk, she quickly made Lia’s favorite hot chocolate with marshmallows and took it up to her room. Lia was reading a book and seemed busy. Tanya persisted and wanted Lia to talk. Lia wanted to be left alone, yet her little girl seemed lost. After a lot of cajoling and persisting Lia burst out into tears, they won’t stop. Her arms around her daughter, Tanya smoothed down her hair and wiped her cheeks repeatedly. After what seemed an eternity Lia finally calmed down enough to tell her that Lana had put on a movie with MA rating and there were lots of kissing and violence to which Lia was uncomfortable. When she asked Lana to switch off, they called her a ‘baby’ and made fun of her. Lia’s little world had fallen apart that second when she found her best friend making fun of her and enjoying at her expense. She didn’t know how to go back to school and face these girls again and was scared that they might repeat that behavior and even label her.

Tanya’s head wracked with pain and worry. She had known that some girls in Lia’s class acted above their age, watched movies meant for teenagers and young adults and even had Facebook and Instagram accounts. Lia had mentioned to her earlier, but Tanya had always intended for Lia to be off social media until in high school, as well as watch movies and series which were age-appropriate.

Keeping it simple, keeping it innocent was the mantra that both Tanya and Dev had agreed upon for Lia. However, with the turn of events and onslaught of technology coupled with peer pressure, Lia’s innocent world often had come crashing down. She was now denied of her innocence, denied of keeping her life simple, denied being who she was growing up to be! It was hard to be simple and technology free!

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