Mehnaaz Pervin Tuli
Jonaki loves fireflies a lot. She wishes to get reborn in her next life as a firefly, because she thinks it will make her happy and content. She even thinks of helping other people by counselling and giving therapy for mentally disordered patients. She contemplates on miscellaneous activities that might be performed by her. But all of a sudden, something dies in her, she cannot move or breathe properly. There is a peevish feeling in the stomach and something blocks out her sense of waking up from sleep — a nightmare in human lives, depression.
Jonaki only prayed for something normal in life that might help her to come out of this depression or the chaotic existence. Normally, people seek help from the family first and then go for counselling. But Jonaki never found that privileged life and entity. She couldn’t vent or break down in front of her family or at home. The reasons behind it are pathetic and depressing enough to let all positive energy vanish at once.
Sometimes she gets the chance to laugh her heart out with her two siblings, but that never lasts long. She is the one held responsible in the family for many actions as the eldest of the three children. She had to endure the blows and reverberations more than the other younger siblings. In her family, she never experienced true love in a family bonding, except getting the fees for her studies or the allowance for living in a safe place. As an individual, no one counted her opinion at all, rather belittled her because of her gender. The most foreign word inside her home was peace, and most often the children of this house had to go out just to keep their mind sane.
Jonaki has seen her mother getting insulted and verbally abused by her father — who carried on his extramarital affairs blatantly with another woman much younger than him. In contrast, come what may, the mother is adamant and confident about her absolute decision of not leaving her husband, and leaves no stone unturned to make him suffer financially. Jonaki has been watching her mother spend money on the very unnecessary things and fill the house with lavish jewels and showpieces. Jonaki has not seen her parents sitting together at peace with a cup of tea for a long time.
Jonaki studies at a private university. There she gets to listen to stories of other households and families going for picnics very often, whereas Jonaki couldn’t recall her paternal or maternal house. Nobody in her family is on good terms with each other, that too because of the complexity of the relationship between her parents. Additionally, her parents cannot afford to take the risk of travelling together and cursing each other on the way to paternal or maternal houses outside town. Nowadays, Jonaki’s mother has turned whimsical and bursts out on the children for no reason. There is very little left in her that can be called motherhood love, as the heart is filled with vengeance. She acts cynical when she fails to stop her husband from going to another woman’s house after office. These days, the mother has started breaking glasses, plates, accessories in a fit of anger; thus turning herself into a scary creature.
The only escape for Jonaki is the hours that she spends at the university attending classes or chatting with her friends at the canteen. She has even started giving tuitions to some children in her neighbourhood in order to retain some money. Depression kills every urge, energy, desire, dreams every now and then, but this girl has the robustness of fire that keeps her self-confidence and future ambition alive. She fought relentlessly against depression and brought herself to the position where she can plan for her bright and peaceful future. The only motto of her life is to fly like a bird and build another nest somewhere far away from this tarnished family. She might be an escapist, but she returns to the real battle field to not stop trying. That is why she is saving every penny to go abroad for studies and start her life as a psychiatrist or counsellor. She has even promised herself impatiently that her children will never suffer in such an environment; if there are any in future. On the other hand, she tries to grasp the personal struggles of her parents as human beings and couples in a relationship, but fails to come to a positive conclusion.
She sat by her mother a several times and discussed how they could start their life without her father and build a new small house. She tried to picturise a beautiful small house in front of her mother — a hand machine, the sewing materials for her mother, a reading table for her brother, and a peaceful dining table. Jonaki pats the back of her mother saying she herself will start giving tuitions and earn 10,000 per month. She encourages her mother to start her own business of sewing and making designer clothes that was once the dream of Jonaki’s mother, but remained unexecuted. Moreover, her father can start his life in his own way and provide good money for Jesse, the youngest sibling. Jonaki even assures her mother that she would give a discussion with her father about this and she knows he would not disagree.
The castle of expectations gets crushed under her mother’s yearning of reprisal against her father. Her mother chose to hurt the person who snatched away her dignity as a wife, rather than making her own existence stronger by coming out of the ineffectual marriage. Jonaki hardly understood the sentiment of her own mother and retreated from everything that meant family, or associated with her parents’ issues. Now, Jonaki is seen occupied with her laptop and language courses day and night without any stoppage. She has been prospecting and checking into every foreign university for admissions and procedures.
Nowadays, she only puts on her headphones and acts accustomed to anything disturbing or thunderous at home. The wounds are unplumbed and fathomless, yet they have turned Jonaki into someone who is profound about her troubles, and dreams that gave way to earnest hiking towards her goal.
Tuli likes to have small talks with people of various cultures, religions, and races. She can’t sit at home and would prefer living out of a suitcase at any time.