I Want To Live My Life, Amma! [#ShortStory]

“But deep down, I am sure nothing matters to you more than my happiness. And right now, I am perfectly content. ”

Here is the third winner of our May 2017 Muse of the Month contest, Priya Tallanje.

The cue for this month was from the movie Frozen, in which Elsa realizes that she is alone, but she is alone and free to do whatever she wants!

I Want To Live My Life, Amma!

The announcement came blaring over the public-address system – “Boarding will commence shortly for LH 755 bound to Frankfurt. Passengers are requested to have their boarding pass and passports ready with them”. I took both out of my handbag and suddenly on a whim, I also took out the envelope from a side pocket and extracted the letter. The letter ran thus:

Dearest Amma,

It has been six months since I set foot here. And what a journey it has been! New sounds and sights, a different culture, a different environment. There have been exhilarating moments at college and there have been times when I have felt like tearing my hair out in frustration. Overall, a bumpy but very joyous ride.

My work in the research lab is right now my antidote. Mornings are a rush to college, by the time I return home in the evening, I am dead tired, but I need to conserve energy to cook dinner and prepare for the next day’s classes. All this is overwhelming, yet immensely satisfying.

Amma, first thing, please stop worrying about me. And more importantly, stop blaming yourself for my divorce. There was no way you could have seen it coming, no way you could have guessed or found out what an incorrigible sadist he was. What has happened is the past. An unpleasant chapter of my life which unfortunately cannot be erased away or forgotten easily. What is important is I stay positive and hopeful about the future.

Amma, I know you are not very happy with my decision to come here and resume my studies. Or let me correct myself, the resuming studies was acceptable but not here. Not so far away from you.

But you know what was more painful than the entire episode? The constant stream of well- wishers. The meddlesome relatives, each wanting to know why I had chosen to walk out of my marriage. Suddenly everybody seemed to be an expert on matrimonial issues. Suggestions ranged from how I could have been more ‘tolerant’ and saved my marriage to what I should have bargained for in the divorce.

I know you would love to see me get married again, have kids and then probably display on your mantelpiece a framed photo of my family, all beaming and smiling for the camera. And with great joy, you could have showed it to our wonderful relatives, the neighbor aunty and anyone else who would care. Not so long ago, that was also my (only) definition of happiness. But not anymore. I have found peace and strength in this country and in my research work. For the first time in a very long time, I feel light and peaceful, almost like a bird ready to fly away in any direction. I know I am alone, alone in a foreign land. But I am alone and free – free from the shackles of the society and its preconceived notions of when a girl should get married, when she needs to have babies, whether she needs to work or not etc.

Your first reaction on reading this would be that of dismay. You will exclaim – ‘All this high headed talk is fine. Who will look after you if you fall sick? Who will give you companionship in your old age?’ I agree with you. But right now, I have neither the interest nor the energy to again go through the ordeal of a re-marriage. I desperately need some solitude and this has been a godsend opportunity, a chance to channelize all my energy into a single direction – my studies.

Amma, I know it will be very difficult for you. Difficult to handle well-meaning advice from family and friends. Difficult to politely refuse offers of a ‘suitable’ widower or a divorcee who could be the perfect match for me. Difficult to accept that I can indeed survive in this big bad world without a companion. But deep down, I am sure nothing matters to you more than my happiness. And right now, I am perfectly content.

Please forgive me!

Looking forward to your acceptance and love as usual!

Your loving daughter,

Maya

I sighed loudly as I folded it and put it back into the envelope. I had read the letter nearly a thousand times in the past 7 years. 7 years since my daughter had walked out of a marriage. 7 years of hard work to earn a doctorate. And in these 7 years, I have come to accept and realize a lot of things. Accept that my daughter has her own ideas and a right to her life. Realize that her happiness matters to me more than anything else even at the cost of people talking behind my back. Children, it is said, are the best teachers. I couldn’t have agreed more! I gathered my handbag and luggage and walked towards the gate, my heart swelling with pride and joy at the thought of attending my daughter’s graduation.

Priya Tallanje wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2017. Congratulations! 

Image source: pexels

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Priya Tallanje. I hail from Bangalore and love reading books!
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