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Now I am about to enter an unknown terrain Ma, and I feel only you will understand the fear, the joy, the nervousness.. these waves of overwhelming emotions washing over me…
The Muse of the Month is a monthly writing contest organised by Women’s Web, bringing you original fiction inspired by women.
Soumya Bharathi is one of the winners of the August 2020 Muse of the Month.
15th May 2008
It has been exactly one year since you left me. You didn’t even give me time to say Goodbye. Or thank you.
Yes, you heard me right Ma, this rebellious daughter of yours who never said thank you to you when you were alive has been remembering you more and more with each passing day; and also missing you. Yes, missing you so much that she feels like writing to you. I don’t know in which world you exist, but wherever you are I just hope my words reach you.
I got this journal to keep writing to you, with the hope that someday I can wash away the feeling of deep regret burrowed in my heart. I hope you are listening…
12th Jan 2009
It’s your birthday Ma. You are not here but someone else made their first appearance in my life today, through two pink lines.
Your Chinnu is pregnant Ma.
I haven’t even told Dheeraj but I felt like sharing this news first with you. Yes Ma, I am the same girl who hid her teenage crush from you; or her first confirmed job in a different city. I thought you would not understand Ma. But you surely did. Or else why would you convince Dad about booking me a PG room? Now I am about to enter an unknown terrain Ma, and I feel only you will understand the fear, the joy, the nervousness… these waves of overwhelming emotions washing over me…
15th August 2011
The entire country is celebrating Independence Day Ma, and I am losing mine.
After much deliberation I have decided to quit my corporate job and take care of my little Akruti. Dheeraj is not happy about this but he respects my choice. But there are things that he does not understand even though he is the dad; he does not understand how my mind will always be at home with Akriti even when I am at work; or how I feel like I have lost something precious because I was not there during one of her milestones; or how my heart melts when she tugs at my dress and shakes her head asking me not to leave her when I am preparing to leave to office or the most important of all, how I can’t accept the fact that she chooses to call her nanny more than her mother…
Did you feel the same way when you resigned from your job as a teacher to take care of Abhi and me? I don’t know how I came to this decision Ma, or how sure or unsure I am about it. All that I know is that if at all there is anyone who will understand me at this point, it’s only you Ma, only you…
23rd November 2013
I have a confession to make Ma. I am losing it. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to handle two kids all alone but when I found out I was pregnant for the second time, inspite of using birth control, Dheeraj and me went ahead with the firm belief in our destiny. Of course it gave us our wonderful little ball of energy Akshath, but I never had any idea that parenting two young children would take so much effort and energy.
Dheeraj helps me in taking care of them, but with Dad being away from town most of the times on account of his job postings, I wonder how you took care of both me and Abhi single-handedly? Did you ever have moments of self-doubt and helplessness Ma? Or moments of anger and frustration? If at all you did, you certainly didn’t show them to us. What all did you hide beneath that lovely smile of yours Ma?
21st September 2018
Today when I was working in the garden I felt pain in my soles. That is when I noticed that I had a crack in my foot. Yes Ma, your daughter who had dreams of having a career in modelling now has cracked feet. I remember how you always asked me or Abhi to massage your cracked soles with vaseline. And how we both tried our best to pass the task on to the other; inspite of knowing well that whenever we wanted a head, neck or foot massage, you always gave one, even without having to ask you! I never realised how much cracked feet can hurt until now Ma. But even with them you moved about the house doing all the work alone, hardly ever complaining.
While I sit and massage my feet, just like you used to, I can sense your smile; it has taken me these many years to understand how much it must have hurt you.
How could I be so blind to your pain Ma? Or to the enormous amount of work you put in holding it all together with great happiness? You gave up your career, most of your dreams and wishes for our happiness, how could we do this to you? But all that is left are just these questions Ma, we have no way of undoing what we did to you…
5th September 2019
Akriti is 10 years old today Ma… The same age as me when I starting nurturing the desire to fly. To reach great heights in my life. This is also the time I started looking around and judging people around me. And you were not the inspiration I was looking for in life.
You always quietly went about your work, always nurturing and caring for us and being there when I or Abhi needed you. But I aspired to be that model on the hoardings looking gorgeous or that sportsperson on TV winning medals; or that business woman making her way into the list of richest people, or my college Principal who had enough power in her hands to control the entire college staff. The aspirations were many Ma, but you did not figure in that list.
I hate to admit it but for the longest time I was scared I’d find out that I had turned out like my mother. The life you were leading was not my idea of success or happiness Ma…. From that Chinmayee who lived in her own dreams to this Chinmayee whose feet are firmly rooted in reality, it has been a roller coaster ride full of life lessons. This crazy journey has been the one filled with discoveries of every kind, but the most significant discovery of all, has been YOU….
2nd Feb 2020
Today is my 40th Birthday Ma. Yes, your little girl has morphed into a fine woman who has four decades of life behind her. And many more ahead of her…
My children have grown enough to not need me constantly so this year I have gone back to my professional life with renewed energy and vigour.
For the last twelve years I have been constantly talking to you; I do not know whether you are listening. I never will. But these years have given me enough insight into your life more than all those years we spent together as mother and daughter. It has opened my eyes to a woman who was always a constant support but was lost in the background while she let her children and husband shine in the foreground. Without you, none of us would have reached here Ma, that is for sure. But we never gave you your due credit. We never expressed enough gratitude for what you did. You left us too soon and the void your absence has created can never be filled.
The sense of regret I feel in my heart about this indifference we showed towards you will never go away but I am trying to replace it with the sense of deep gratitude I feel towards you now. Yes there was moment in my life where my deepest fear was growing up to discover I was like you but now I feel a sense of pride being your daughter.
Today, on my birthday, my daughter Akruti asked me what is my greatest wish in life, and it didn’t even take me even a minute of deliberation to answer that my greatest wish was to be the kind of mother you were to me, to her. After more than a decade of walking through the path you chose happily, I have realised the obstacles and hardships you must have faced. That woman on the Billboard or that one winning medals is not aspirational anymore. But you certainly are and always will be from now on…
Lots of Love. Proud to be your daughter,
P.S: I wish my daughter would say the same thing about me one day.
Editor’s note: Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Baker, and had an abusive childhood. She also went through sexual abuse at the hands of many people she trusted growing up and as a teenager. After many ups and downs, she got into the entertainment and modelling industry, and finally as an actor doing bit roles.
Despite all her struggles, however, once she got her first hit, she ruled the box office for almost a decade. Her tenacity in getting what she wanted to do in life is legendary. Unfortunately, the world lost her to suicide at a very young age, on 4th August 1962.
One thing about Marilyn that is not so well known is that she was a voracious reader of serious literature, and had a way with words too – dashing the popular myth about her and ‘dumb blondes’. An intriguing woman, indeed!
The cue is this quote by her: “For a long time I was scared I’d find out I was like my mother.”
Sowmya Bharati wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: a still from the short film Methi Ke Laddoo
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