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“It’s like everything you do is a burden, like some task you have to complete. You don’t do anything out of your free will, rather everything becomes a duty.”
2019 is the year in which our beloved writing contest, Muse of the Month gets bigger and better (find out how here) and also takes the cue from the words of women who inspire with their poetry. The writing cue for February 2019 is from the poetry of Mary Oliver, passed away on 17th January 2019, aged 83. This is a tribute to her, and her memorable words, taken from her poem, The Summer Day.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
The fifth winner of our February 2019 Muse of the Month contest is KrishRa.
I sat on the lonely bench in the park. It was unusually calm, occasionally interrupted by the chirping of the birds. I had escaped from the cacophony of voices back home, to find solace in this place. But peace was an illusion it seemed.
Some unmindful tears made their way. I just closed my eyes to let them enjoy their uninterrupted fall. At least let them find their safe haven.
When I opened my eyes after a while, I realized someone sitting beside me. I dared to look at the person. I don’t wish anyone to notice me this way. Not that it would matter to anyone.
I immediately wiped my cheeks and sneaked a look at my companion. She was some old lady. No I haven’t seen her before, yet she appeared familiar. A more thorough look at her face, and I was rewarded by a heartwarming smile.
She looked at my heena laden hands.
“Getting married?” She mouthed.
I just nodded in approval.
“Love?” She continued.
I reluctantly nodded a no, not willing for more conversation on this topic.
But she seemed adamant.
“Happy?” she further inquired.
And that was it. I could contain no longer. It had piled from so many days, no months, but this waterfall… it just sprung from her one word.
Yes, I am not happy with this marriage. And I didn’t know how to put it off.
Apparently she could sense what my parents could not and yet in front of this complete stranger, I sobbed like a child.
She patted my back in an attempt to soothe me.
“I don’t want to go ahead with this marriage.” I mumbled.
“Then why don’t you let everyone know?” She asked.
“Wish it was that simple.” My tears made their way again.
“Alas! If only wishing made everything simple.” Her words confused me.
“Don’t like the boy?” She further prodded.
“No, it’s not like that.” I answered.
“Then, do you love someone else?” She was irritating me with her interrogation.
I snapped at her, “Why is my refusal to marriage proposals being deemed as loving some random guy? Why can’t just a simple refusal mean that I am not yet ready for marriage…I mean I agree that I am 26, an ‘ideal age’ for marriage so that I can have kids on time, and all that stuff I have been told time and again.” I paused to see if she was listening. The fact that she was softened my tone.
“I just don’t feel like marrying now. Not right away.”
“Why don’t you talk to your parents?” She asked.
“I did. They feel that it is the pre marriage jitters and nerves. They shunned all my attempts to refusal. It just two days to marriage and I don’t know how to refuse. There are no objections against the boy. He is the ideal guy in the marriage market. The family is also nice. But at times I feel our wavelengths don’t match. Our thought process is different. We end up arguing most of the times. It’s just that we want different things from life.”
“I can understand.” She spoke.
“How so?” I was visibly surprised.
“40 years back, I was in the same position. I was too weak to say a no.” She answered.
“Nothing, I stayed unhappily married throughout my life. Want to know how that feels?” She asked.
My silence was enough for her to continue.
“It’s like everything you do is a burden, like some task you have to complete. You don’t do anything out of your free will, rather everything becomes a duty. The family, the work, and then the kids. I mean I did love my kids, but at times I felt that was not enough. At times, I would question my existence. It was like every day became yet another day when I would fight with myself to let it go on and that one day it would end. That it might change.”
“Then?” She had all my attention.
“But nothing changes. You know why?”
My head jerked in refusal.
“Because we fear the change. We fear the Ifs, we fear the society. We fear the tags that we would be awarded with. And this fear is what always prevents us from all attempts we wish to make for ourselves. Our attempts to happiness.”
“I just don’t feel I am made for marriage. But then I hear all sorts of tales of being alone throughout your life.” I said.
“So what do you fear the most, Being alone, or being with someone yet alone?” She asked.
I had never thought about the other scenario and yes it visibly scared me.
“Yes, I agree marriage is important. Either way life is not easy to be lived. Married or not, the load to live it happily would still be there. But you know what it’s never the load that matters. It’s the way we carry it. That makes all the difference.” Her voice was unusually soft.
“So what do you suggest? What should I do?” I asked, in hope to find an escape.
“That my little girl, only you know. It’s your decision, your call. I can only guide you. You have to walk the path.”
“A no would not work, not now. It’s just 2 days to marriage.” My voice was adrift with reluctance.
“If it starts raining now, what would you do?” She asked.
It was such an out of context question.
“Well, I would just run to find some shelter.” I said, as a matter of fact.
“Yes, you would, most of us would do. Run… regardless of the fact that we would drench anyhow. You know why we run? Because we are conditioned that way. And that is what we do when we are faced with any problem. Run from it. Not realizing that running never helps. It’s like we are chained with that problem and running means that problem is following us too.”
“I am financially independent…may be I would tell them that I wish to continue my job even after marriage… may be that could work.” I started weighing my options.
“May be, earn and live your own independent life. Your parents still continuing with the marriage rhyme.” She said.
“Yes, the pressure building and guess what I would do?” my mood becoming jovial.
“Book a tour may be, go on a vacation, or change the city, some new destination, start learning some art, may be painting or what about dance? You’ve been fond of dancing, right?” She answered.
“How do you know about my secret desires?” My voice, full of surprise.
She just smiled at me. A closer look and I knew who she is. It was my own aged self.
“I know you. You are me some 40 years hence.” I asked.
Again a gentle smile.
“So you are here to tell me what I would be if I walk this path of marriage.”I asked.
“May be you end up this way, may be you don’t. I am just what you’re thinking right now. I don’t know the future. How it turns out. I am just channelizing your thoughts to help you make a decision. But that decision is yours to make all the while. As also the consequences of the decision. The Ifs and the Buts. The Rights and the Wrongs. The future is some untold story. Do you want to do the same thing that others did. Or do you wish to make a little exception for yourself. But make sure this exception is a load you would have to carry all through. No one will share it with you. But the way you carry it would make the distinction.”
“Tell me, if I would come to regret my decision not to marry?” I asked.
“Regrets are a part of life. Marry or not, it would still be there. I told you, the what Ifs never end. It depends on their relative weight. Which one you would wish you carry throughout your life?”
“I could adopt a child if I feel lonely.” I supplied another scenario.
“Adopt not to ward off your loneliness. Adopt only if you feel like.” She said. “As in this marriage, do what you feel like at the moment, not what you have conditioned yourself to believe as others say.”
“I just don’t feel like marrying, not right now, may be in a year or two… but not today.” I murmured.
“Then you can ask them to wait.” She winked.
I laughed in response. It felt like some burden being lifted from my soul.
“Or simply call off the wedding. I will not run away from the ugly situation at home. Bear everything that my family might face. Let the things calm down. Let everything settle down. And then begin with the exploration. You know travel the world, learn new skills.”
“Do as you feel like. It’s a small life after all.”
I saw her fade away, as all my burdens.
I sat there for some time more, rewarding myself some moments of tranquility before initiating a storm back home.
Some time before I was clueless what to do, but I knew now what else to do in my life.
KrishRa wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: pexels
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