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She had been a single mother all these years, but it was time for her to think of her needs as a woman!
“I do want someone by my side who can share my responsibilities and fill the void in my life. Although I am content but a ‘companionship’ is what I miss”, Tanya outpoured her inner urge, strongly and comfortably in a casual conversation. There she was, a solitary soul longing for an emotional investment.
Honestly, for a moment I was a bit taken aback, owing to my earlier perception of her. On the other hand I was indeed, intrigued by her straightforward utterance and her plain sailing persona. Unable to convey it in person, I had applauded her silently.
This was my first rendezvous with her after nearly a decade of having been in oblivion about each other’s existence. My yearly summer sojourn in my hometown Shimla, offered me an opportunity to look beyond her feigned expressions. It was a fair chance to untangle the threads of time gone by and mandatory since the layers of time had a plethora of stories hidden underneath, waiting to unfold.
She had been pursuing her career as a management professional in Jammu, where her husband, a major in the Indian Army had been posted, and that was the only piece of information I was left with after I had landed in Delhi. The disassociation continued thereafter. Life had been very engaging and exhausting, in between juggling work and raising a set of twins. Therefore, I had quashed all hopes of recovering the long lost union. The lack of any common link further augmented the gap for a very long time, until one day I somehow managed to successfully trace her back.
My stay this time in the soothing environs of the hills boasted of a retrieved friendship, some hearty indulgences and of course, gradually embarking on to a journey to the new emerging women around me. A string of meetings and curious queries followed thereafter.
In between her smiles and tales of pain, I had managed to sneak into her mind, open to the idea of deserting her single woman status. I knew all this while; she had stood alone, walked alone, cried alone, broke alone and fought alone.
Her honest confession had invoked a series of distressing flashbacks though. Meeting her last time back home in Shimla, had been a revelation of sorts.
She had just entered the same restaurant. The charm and exuberance had suddenly caught my attention, and as I looked back, Tanya was right there with a broad smile on her face. And after that initial enthusiasm had settled down, I was ready with my next obvious question. “Is it your husband who is accompanying you?” I had asked her in order to satisfy my inquisitiveness, since I could already see her toddler son sticking to her.
She had immediately replied with a big no. The next few sentences, had however, left me speechless and awestruck. “I lost Anand three years ago, when Arush was only six months old.” That was certainly not a prepossessing exchange of information. I had paused to absorb the sudden blow and had bribed my disbelief to have let me extend the conversation.
The wow feeling that had automatically generated on encountering her, had instantly succumbed to the news of her personal tragedy. Anand had an accidental death during a routine military exercise.
Tanya, had however, seemed unperturbed and at peace with the storm surge that had toppled her life’s plans. She had added in a distinct voice, “I am happy the way I am, I do not wish to remarry and settle down with someone.” Tanya had a striking confidence in her demeanor. She had manifested signs of being calm, somewhere deliberately attempting to mask her despair. The tremors of time had upset the composure of her new found world sooner than one could imagine, bearing an uncanny presence behind her smiling face.
And then there was a disconnect of years, post that chance meeting. But having resumed my association with her, Tanya now appeared far more unclouded and resolved. The woman in her was still alive.
Although life had been unfair for someone who had been married for just over two years, lost her life partner and had been nearly abandoned by her insensitive and greedy in laws, I was somewhere proud of the enduring woman in her.
“Anand’s parents had developed this dislike for me immediately after his demise. Their otherwise obedient son had signed off all his assets and the Paid II Order (a document requisite to be signed by every new officer in the Army) in the name of his wife and son, rendering their underlying aspirations purposeless. They chose to mourn the monetary loss over their only son. This had in particular, ignited their antipathy towards me and their infant grandchild. They never looked back again”, she said, as I, on the other hand struggled to deal with the unpleasantness of the entire episode.
Perhaps, the grief had healed with the years in progression. However, the scars played a hide & seek in her fluent narrative.
“Thankfully, I had a career, a child to live for, a set of supportive parents and a helping hand from the Army. What else would you do, except ride the tide when life leaves you with no alternative?”
I had met her again a few times and the keen desire had stepped in comfortably.
“The initial years were hard, but I had adorned this innate shield of strength and resistance in my thoughts, which hardly permitted me to nurture a new relationship. My livelihood wasn’t a question mark and Arush was young. My parents had tried for a suitable match which I conveniently ignored every time. But lately, I have begun to recognize and acknowledge my needs.” Tanya had seemingly begun to unleash her once impenetrable emotions. I had soon realized that still waters run deep.
Over a cup of coffee, overlooking the snow-clad hills, she had voiced her opinion with an ease, “When our children grow up and are busy in their own endeavors, the realization of a companion tends to haunt. You look for that ‘someone’ by your side. Arush will turn thirteen shortly. He does not wish another man in his mother’s life and that is perhaps, the stark reality of having a male child”. Tanya had probably perceived this while her son was approaching his teens.
“I do not regret not having considered to be a wife to someone again. I was far more mentally unsettled then trying to pick up pieces of my life. I had consumed myself with Arush’s upbringing and my workload. An eye for another man hardly crossed my mind but a companion is what I have been yearning for. Since, besides our parents and off springs, we need that one special association to count on.” She had seemed to me like a sapling waiting to be planted on a barren piece of land.
Without any visible hesitation, she continued, “I don’t need a man to unburden me of my responsibilities. I need a shoulder to rest my head on, a man to lend me his ears, cuddle me and cherish me. I look for togetherness. Yes, I am single and I wish to be in a relationship.”
By now, a profound call had been made, and a sentiment was up for an emotional swing. Her confrontation with her loneliness was fast becoming apparent to her conscious mind. Probably, the process of self enlightenment had begun to acknowledge her needs as a woman.
It altogether altered my perception of this single mother who was strong enough to carry on with her traumatic past without a hand in hand, accepting to comply, with all the social obligations. Her statements had made me rethink and reassess the stereotype image that we have of women without their husbands.
As we hugged and bid adieu, with a promise to see each other again, until the spring arrived anew in the hills, I had this freakish grin on my face, resulting from her transition.
The next morning, as I sat beside the window of my room gazing at the clear skyline, I was at peace, having acknowledged one more facet of womanhood and having come closer to one more compelling truth of life. I was somewhere elated for her and the fact that there was someone, who had not knelt down to the decrepit thought of ‘Oh! It’s my destiny’. Tanya had approved of the desiring woman in her and was ready to furl the red flag in relationships.
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