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But now she did not have to be an ideal wife, DIL, SIL, etc. The people who used to frighten her had lost their power. Her adult progeny was adult; she did not have to be a role model for them anymore. In nutshell, she did not have to be a good girl.
It was a record of a kind for her. The year 2018 was the one in which she had not read a single book. Not a single book!
She had been an avid, voracious reader and for the last half-century – fifty years, just imagine, she had read on average two-three books per month. Then Netflix, Prime Video, Hot Star happened, and she got hooked. Last year, as usual, she had started reading ‘I Am Pilgrim’, read four chapters in one go like old days, had found it riveting but then realized reading was too much of an effort. The pictorial element could not compete. Binge watching videos was much more interesting and the choice was ginormous.
Now it is she and her tablet and a quiet corner of the house. And the rest of her family smiling, smirking, repeating some of her dialogues from the past like “You want to spoil your eyesight?”, “Don’t waste your time”, “Koi Kam Nahi kya!”
At times she felt guilty as if watching her favorite serials was a guilty pleasure. But then she coached herself to understand what was couched in the word ‘guilty.’ Simply nothing – the two words were associated in her mind by force of habit. Earlier when in her busy routine she snatched time to read fiction or watch television the guilt was ever present because she could have utilized that time to do the 1760 pending tasks. Now superannuation had happened and the whole day was hers to do whatever pleased her, and feeling ‘guilt’ was only a habit.
And who wanted the company of ordinary people when there were such absorbing, highly intelligent, polished people delivering smart, witty dialogues perfectly? The ordinary people when they spoke were repetitive, gave information in a random way, had no definite structure, did not build tempo, no punch line – all haphazard. And the topics they chose – ooff – were mundane, all utterly plebian.
In her screen world, she could go for court twisters, psychological thrillers, crime, paranormal. You name it and they have it. Say while she was watching Law and Order SUV, she could identify with Olivia Benson. While watching Grey’s Anatomy she wanted to be Meredith Grey, and in X-Files, she was Dana, in Desperate Housewives she was a mixture of Bree and Susan. In her fantasy world, she had the wisdom and decision-making process of Commissioner Regan from Blue Bloods.
Who would want the company of ordinary mortals when they could be in the company of such illustrious people? Oh, it was fine, she knew she was living vicariously in her escape world.
The life she had lived/ is living was utterly ordinary. Cooking three meals a day, holding a pensionable job, bringing up two doted upon kids in a three-bedroom flat – hallmarks of a middle-class life, but which had always left her hankering for something, which sadly she knew not was what. She could never define it, perhaps because she had not been trained to put her thoughts into words. By the time she understood what she wanted – it was too late to go for it. Her kids were her responsibilities – she had chosen to bring them, they had not chosen to come. And she was not a risk taker; the ultimate she was capable of was chafing at her chains in the security of her prison. And dreaming.
But now she did not have to be an ideal wife, DIL, SIL, etc. The people who used to frighten her had lost their power. Her adult progeny was adult, capable of making their own decisions and she chose not to interfere in their lives. She did not have to be a role model for them anymore. In nutshell, she did not have to be a good girl. The covert could become overt.
In the morning when the women of her generation were doing pooja-path she could be seen playing Alpha Betty or Candy Crush or browsing different sites. Though rather late in life, she was developing cherophohia – a fear of happiness because she did not want to lose her happiness as she had realized she was now as happy as she could ever be.
Funny. Recently she had convinced herself that she didn’t want anything; anything more she meant. There was a time when she had wanted a lot many things. Now she just wanted what she had to continue as it was. There, there – she caught herself, she ‘wanted’ something. She wanted things not to change. Hence proved, as long we are alive our desires are never silent, over, finished.
Yes, one thing more rather it was putting the earlier ‘want’ in a different way. She wanted to die before her husband – not because of some Bhartiya naari sati Savitri concept but because she wanted no change. She wanted the status quo to be maintained.
It’s strange – the feeling that this arrangement /scenario can continue for a decade or can be over in the next ten minutes. Intimations of mortality or threatenings of mortality? Just because of the government construct – one is superannuated because one is sixty and this naturally is accompanied by the noises of shutting shop.
This moment she was dusting the furniture, as usual, cribbing at the white paper sheet from the laundry thrown carelessly on the floor by her husband as he must have worn the ironed shirt after taking bath. She had not been able to make him learn not to throw the paper sheet on the floor during the four decades they had spent together. Rather she had stopped pointing it out. It made her smile, be indifferent or scowl as her mood of the day may be. From the position of the sheet, she could make out where he was standing when he wore the shirt – in his room or the TV room.
Coming back to her earlier musings.
The thing is this loop can continue for another decade or be over anytime. This ‘anytime’ must have been in the past also, in her thirties, forties and so on but she had never felt it so keenly as she did now.
The moment she heard some acquaintance was in the hospital, say had cancer or had suffered a heart attack she got upset on their behalf but got more upset on her own. She started taking stock of all the things she had because she became afresh aware of all the things that she could lose. She hoped she would know how to cope when it was her turn, when her worst-case scenario came true. Or, better still her turn would come first – she was well prepared to go.
She did not want to linger at the start of the transit. She had heard the ominous ‘on your mark’. She was contentedly awaiting the pistol shot for “Ready, Steady, Go!” Hypothyroidism, receding hairline, cataracts, arthritis etc. were the new additions in her life. She had somewhat welcomed them. Her body was not what it used to be. Not that she was in a rush to die, but death was no more frightening.
Being dead must be a cakewalk. Oh, she will definitely know later. She just wanted the act of dying to be quick and smooth.
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