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Lunch Date - Tuesday Morning Writings #5

They rested on the bench for a cosy chat. The three sisters had met for their monthly lunch date.  They were just having  a short walk before they parted and went their separate ways. </span></strong>

They were siblings from a larger family.  There had been five brothers too, but they were scattered all over the country.  As the three sisters still lived in the same town where they had been born and brought up, they had made it a point for years to meet up on the first Saturday of every month to have a talk together and catch up on each others' news, away from the intrusive presence of husbands.

As befitted her social status, Darlene, the middle sister, was immaculately coiffed and clad in designer chic.  She'd sipped a glass of mineral water and nibbled at a salad.  Judy, the youngest, was married to an obsessive man.  In the early years of their marriage, he had been obsessed with alcohol and had given her a terrible life.  Things had turned around, however.  He'd turned to the solace of religion and had joined a small, close knit Christian community where the only book allowed was the Bible and modern methods of entertainment like television and the cinema were forbidden.  Judy looked like an Amish woman, with her long hair in a bun and her ankle length skirt and long sleeves, even in the heat of the summer.  She'd had a bowl of chicken soup and some bread rolls for lunch followed by a black coffee.  Janet, the eldest, a widow for thirty years, who had no husband to kowtow to, was her own woman.  Simply clad in casual, comfortable clothes, she'd enjoyed the novelty of a restaurant meal, cooked by someone else.  She'd had a chicken sandwich and a salad and a large capuccino.  Maybe she'd have to do some extra exercise to get rid of the calories but so what?

As they sat in the afternoon sun, they reminisced of times long ago, when life was simple and somehow ideal.

"Remember the day we went for a picnic and Michael forgot to bring the sandwiches?  Remember how angry Mom was?  Oh, Michael really got a telling off that day!" said Darlene.  Judy laughed heartily.  Janet didn't. She remembered vividly.  Her mother, a woman hardened by life, had single handedly reared eight children and didn't suffer fools gladly.  Janet's heart had gone out to her brother that day.  He always did his best to support their mother and had got more than his fair share of verbal abuse from her for the smallest mistakes.

"Remember when Mom tried to squeeze herself into that new dress at any cost and ended up tearing it?" added Judy.  More laughter followed.  Again, Janet remained silent.  She remembered her mother, elderly and fighting a losing battle with her weight, trying so hard to squeeze her expansive body into what she thought was a beautiful dress and her deep disappointment and sense of defeat when she had ended up tearing it.  Why hadn't mom just understood that she had put on weight and purchase a bigger size?

After a bit more banter in this vein, Janet made her excuses and left.  On the bus home, she was conscious of a deep sense of anger.  Why were her sisters so shallow, so ready to belittle the misery of others and just laugh at it?  How could they trivialize a family's memories, minimizing hurt and pain so readily?

Because it was an escape, that's why.  Janet could honestly say that of the three sisters, she was the happiest and the freest.  Darlene and her  status conscious husband, and Judy with her puritan spouse.  They were the fortunate ones and she was the sad widow.    Well, Janet didn't think so.  She had an independent life.

"I'm going to skip next month's lunch date," she told herself.  "And maybe the next one.  Unlike my two sisters, I don't need to escape from anyone."

This post originally appeared on Write Away on WordPress on 23/8/2010

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