‘There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” ~Hindu Proverb
Prisha could see the merit in following the predetermined path her parents had so carefully laid out for her. She had just graduated magna cum laude from Cal with a business degree. Next week her father would name her general manager of the newest addition to the family hotel chain, due to open in a year.
In the meantime, she’d travel to India and meet with the matchmaker selected by her maternal grandmother. By the end of summer she was expected to be engaged, with the wedding to be held in December. They would return to America and her new husband would work for her father, learning the business to eventually take over as she was the only child and a son must inherit the dynasty. She’d manage the new hotel until she had children, then she would be a stay-home mother. Just like her mother and grandmother and every other woman in her family before her. It would be a good life.
In her senior year, Prisha convinced her parents to allow her to live in on campus in a sorority house. It wasn’t a party house; these young woman were business majors with a lot riding on their graduating status.
She made friends quickly and soaked up the camaraderie of her sorority sisters. Some were from wealthy families, others on scholarships and student loans. But every one of them was making her own decisions about her future, except Prisha. Many had jobs lined up, but her best friends were taking a road trip before settling into their careers.
Tomorrow, her parents would arrive with the movers and she would return to the family compound until leaving for India. It was more a mansion than a home, with extended family in a variety of wings and floors. Meals and daily prayers were mandatory group affairs. Her job for the next month would be working with the interior designer to outfit her future marriage suite, so it would be ready upon their return.
Melanie and Rona had sold or given away all of their furniture and belongings, save for a duffle bag of clothes each and a roof rack stacked high with camping gear. They were going to rough it across the United States, then sell the car and take a train back to California. They had a basic idea of their route, having planned it on the huge wall map in their dorm room for the past four years.
Hugs and tears were repeated with each goodbye as one by one the senior sisters left the house. Melanie and Rona knocked on Prisha’s door for their last farewell. She wasn’t there. They found her wedged into a tiny space in the back seat of their car.
Written for the To Live & Write in Alameda June 2019 “Flash Lit” Challenge #2. We had three days to write a poem or short story (of 500 words or less) or create a piece of art to the theme “The Predetermined Path” and post the link in our group.