Take Charge, March On… On Your Own!

Posted: August 19, 2019

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I enjoy the little things I do everyday without having to worry if I have missed anything or gone wrong anywhere, lest I annoy you. I have regained my lost worth and refuse to trade that for anything.  

In 2019 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 August 2019 is this quote from the poem Stanzas by Emily Bronte, whose 201st birth anniversary just went by –  she was born on 30th July 1818.
“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading;
It vexes me to choose another guide­:”

The second winner of our August 2019 Muse of the Month contest is Parvadavardini Sethuraman.

Take Charge, March On… On Your Own

Manohar stood in the balcony looking down at the garden below. It was evening time and he could see children playing while their parents stood around watching them, there were the usual group of fitness enthusiasts, who were gearing up for their evening exercise sessions and there were young couples stealing some time from their busy day for each.

Among all this crowd, there was the couple sitting on the bench below the branches of the Gulmohar tree, watching over the world pass by sitting beside each other they seemed to be enveloped in calmness. As the couple got up to take a walk around the park Manohar realized it was Mr and Mrs.Gupta, his neighbours.

They had both retired from service within a gap of six months from each other, and Manohar could see that unlike him they seemed to be happy in this new phase of life where they had all the time for each other, to discover life at their own pace. How he wished this life could be his, but alas he had himself destroyed it all. If only he could go back in time, but she had given him enough chances, so did he even deserve to complain now?

Manohar had been 26 when he married Malini. He was among the first in his family to have completed MBA and was working in a mid-level management position with a lucrative salary. Malini was working as an English teacher with a reputed school in the city after completing her post-graduation in English Literature.

A common acquaintance had initiated the match making, and before either of them could prepare themselves for the inevitable change in their lives their families had fixed the match, and in a span of few months they were married.

Malini, though nervous, was excited about the start of the new chapter in her life. But the beginning was anything but rosy.

Two days into the marriage Manohar told her to quit her job at the school and take up a job at the neighborhood school, “it’s a mere teacher’s job, why do you need to travel all that distance when you can go and teach in the neighborhood school?”

Malini was extremely hurt by his words and tried her best to continue her job at the school, but without any help and support from Manohar, the others in the house also took her for granted.

After a tiring day, all she got to hear from Manohar was “What do you really do the whole day, that you are so tired. You just go to school, make the children read a few pages and that seems to tire you. I don’t know what you would do if you have a real job.”

The constant jibes took a toll on her and Malini was forced to leave the job, but she knew that to keep her self confidence intact she had to continue working, and took up a teaching job in the neighborhood school at a much lower pay. She enjoyed her work and put her heart and soul into it.

The years passed by. Malini and Manohar had two children. Manohar climbed the corporate ladder at a steady pace and was soon part of the senior managerial team. He devoted all his time to work, while Malini handled the house and children mostly alone, also managing to juggle her job.

While a lot of people around them adored and appreciated Malini’s skills and her deft and efficient way of handling work and life, Manohar never even considered her worth. He never gave her any credit or appreciated her for making his life easy, but never forgot to remind her that “this life of luxury she led, despite her mere teaching job was all due to him and she should be thankful for that.”

It broke Malini’s heart that even after all these years her feelings were never understood.

Both the children had soon grown up, and were busy with their lives and careers of their own. Their daughter Ishita had got married a couple of years ago to her college sweet heart. She stayed in a different city and visited them a couple of times in a year.

It was their son’s Tarun’s wedding, and preparations were on to welcome the new bride home. Malini was overseeing the decorations when all of a sudden Manohar bellowed at her. “Whose idea are these rustic curtains? I am sure it’s you. Even after all these years, you haven’t learnt a thing.”

The other guests were left shocked this behavior of Manohar and Ishita decided it was high time she speak to her mother.

That evening as they sat talking to each other, she asked her mother “why do you still put up with this ma?”

“You know its is his nature, why do you take it so seriously?” Malini replied.

Ishita looked a tad irritated as she said “Even you know it’s not mere nature, it’s his arrogance and narcissism. You definitely deserve better. It’s up to you to realize and act on it, I can only help you.”  Those words of her daughter kept playing in Malini’s mind for days after that. A year after that she was ready with her decision and prepared to act on it.

Manohar was shocked to hear her when she said she had been offered a job in a prestigious residential school in Panchgani and that she was moving there by the end of the month. He had never expected she would arrive at a decision of this manner.

He asked her in a scathing tone, “How do you think you will manage?” She replied with a calmness, that left him stunned: “I will manage fine, in fact without you around to put me down at each step, I will be at peace.” The reply though truthful, bruised his fragile ego. He did not bother to amend the wrongs for he could not admit he was wrong, that was way too difficult for his false pride.

He retired 6 months later and that is when loneliness struck him hard. While he could see his friends making plans to start this new innings afresh with their better halves here, he was all alone. His children were busy with their lives and he could clearly see they supported their mother whole heartedly. In fact, his daughter minced no words in telling him that she would have been happy had her mother taken this decision earlier.

Finally, he decided to travel to Panchgani, confident that Malini would readily agree to come back with him. But the person he met there was not the Malini he knew.

Malini looked radiant and cheerful as she welcomed him into her staff quarters. Though a small one bedroom dwelling it was done up immaculately. As he sat their drinking tea, he asked her “When are you coming back?” and she replied with a surprised look “Where?”

“I have had enough of your anger and this mere job, trying-to-prove-your-worth saga, high time you returned home!” Manohar snapped at her.

Malini smiled as she replied, “I am not interested in proving anything to you, I have finally found the peace and happiness I deserve. My ‘mere job’ in your words is valued here. I enjoy the little things I do everyday without having to worry if I have missed anything or gone wrong anywhere, lest I annoy you. I have regained my lost worth and refuse to trade that for anything. Anyways you have never been happy with me in all these years, so it’s time you got your share of happiness too.”

Her words silenced Manohar. He was facing the repercussion of his own actions. As he was about to leave, she handed him a book saying, “Start reading, it will help you evolve and maybe you won’t feel lonely.”

Manohar looked at the coffee table, the book was open and he could read those lines written by her favourite poet Emily Bronte:

“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading;
It vexes me to choose another guide­:”

Parvadavardini Sethuraman wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations! 

Image source: a still from the movie Hichki

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