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This is another short story, which I wrote for a prompt. The prompt wanted me to start the story with opening lines of Anna Karenina. I tried my best and I am looking forward for your comments.

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“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” the voice over the phone said to Nidhi. She got used to the literary references by now. It was always like this. She had found this man in internet. He interested her in more than one way. He wrote stories, had a good taste in music and arts. The things he shared on his timeline were like treasure to Nidhi. She hadn’t got influenced by anyone in recent times. They slowly started to interact. While Facebook chat became too much to handle, they exchanged their mobile numbers to chat in Whatsapp or call each other. The only glitch is he never told her his name. She used to address him as Aadhi. She came up with the name because if the number was stored in her mobile in that name he would be the first person in her mobile contact list, which would be easy to call.

Over a period of time, they grew really close. She shared most of her personal things and feelings with him. It was refreshing to converse with someone, who doesn’t take your disagreements as arguments. Her sister had eloped from her house following the man of her heart. It had put burden on her family and much of it was on her. Nidhi’s father didn’t allow her to go out of her house. She was in the strictest possible college and her social activities were non-existent. Thanks to her phone, she was able to see the outer world. She unconditionally hated her sister and her father.

“My father will kill me, if I tell him I wanted to go to Singapore for PG” she said to Aadhi in phone.

There was a dry laugh on the other end of the phone.

“You can worry once. Don’t worry daily. Just walk up to him and ask” his voice was deep.

“It is so easy for you to say. But you should live in my family. It is hard to grow up in an unhappy family. Do you have any idea?” she needed to vent out somewhere.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” the voice said.

“Now, Who said this?”

“Tolstoy” he said “You should read such classics. It will take you to another world altogether”

“How are the happy families are all alike?” Nidhi asked.

“We should ask Tolstoy”

“You are my Tolstoy now. Tell me”

“I don’t know. I think we should ask people from a happy family”

“Where do we find them?” She realized it was silly. But it was only with him that she could be silly.

“Mars may be. But all families have some problems. They may appear to be perfect from far away. But all families have some problem here and there”

“Is your family have the same story  too?”

The line was silent but not dead.

“I am sorry”

“You know that I am not going to answer any personal questions”

He was mysterious. Sometimes she worried whether he was some terrorist. But he always wished her good luck. He motivated her to do new things, which she would otherwise never even think of doing. She respected him for that. He never asked about her personal life too and chose to change topics whenever it came up. But he was her only friend and Nidhi couldn’t help sharing her personal life with him.

“I am so worried” Nidhi said. “It is the last two days to submit the application”

“Ok! I did not want to thrust my ideas on you. But I have something to tell about the Tolstoy’s line”

“Yeah, Tell me. I have endured Mario Puzo . I think I will endure Tolstoy as well”

“Tell me something before that. How was your family before your sister’s marriage?”

“Like a fairy tale. Dad was the sweetest person I have ever seen. He gave us everything we needed and wanted.”

“What is missing now?”

“He is very grumpy. He never trusts me. Even mom is scared to talk with him.”

“But still you are in college and you are almost at the end of your degree”

“Yes. But there is something missing”

“Now let me tell what I think of the lines by Tolstoy Nidhi. Happy families are all alike, because there is one basic ingredient that can guarantee happiness. Love. There might be different opinions, arguments and all that. But at the end of the day the members will be united by love. The unhappy families are unhappy in their own ways, because we are innovative when it comes to hate people. You once said, you were irritated with one of your cousins because he was obsessed with his IPad. Similarly, the members of the family would be irritated, hated and be disgusting for some reason. But love solves these problems”

“What do you say? I just go and hug my dad?”

“I have a better option. I think you should start loving yourself. You have loads of self sympathy. But if you love yourself, you will be brave enough to stand up for yourself. When you love yourself, you can spread it. When you love yourself, you will be loved. I am sure it is not going to be easy. But failing is not the same as not trying. It is late at night now. You should sleep. And you cannot suddenly start loving yourself. But you can walk up to your dad and ask him whether he loves you. Whether he loves you enough to let you free.”

“ I don’t know. But I will try Aadhi”

Two weeks later Nidhi updated her facebook status,

Got Admitted in NSU. Singapore, Here I come” Aadhi was the first one to like her status as usual. The call frequency became lesser and lesser. But he knew she was busy. At middle of night after three weeks, she updated her status again.

Reached Singapore safely. Miss my dad” Her father was the first one to like her status.

“Happy families are all alike” Aadhi smiled to himself.

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