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I had made a silent pledge to be the best parent in the world to my kid, even before she was born. To learn lessons from what my parents did wrong and never to repeat it. But today I proved myself wrong.
Pia stood behind the curtain and clenched it tightly. Her body was shaking visibly, and her mind was trying to grasp what had happened. With eyes wide open, she stood there amidst the chairs, cushions, and glasses strewn around the living room.
I couldn’t come to terms with what I just did either. She enraged me; that is how I felt for a moment. So I reacted by screaming at the top of my lungs at her. With heart-pounding, ears ringing, and sweat dripping through my reddened face, I clenched my fists tightly. In a fit of rage, I felt like hitting her. But somehow, I channeled my anger into throwing things. So in an impulse, I hurled whatever came into my vicinity; the chair, the cushions, the glasses, and the flower vase. I had become a completely different person. Tears of fury and frustration welled through my eyes.
Pia witnessed it all and stood there terrified. Then in a trice, she ran towards the curtain, hid, and peeped from behind. She couldn’t comprehend what could happen next.
She was scared, but I was even more frightened. What if I was becoming like my mother?
The thought hit me like a hammer. After all, Pia didn’t do anything that should make me furious. In fact, how could a 3-year old infuriate someone? A mother is supposed to love her daughter unconditionally but here I was fuming for no fault of hers.
It started many, many years ago. The truth be told, it started when I was born. I have spent almost 20 years of my life believing I was good for nothing. I felt like a disappointment to my parents. I was an average grader and an expressionless and emotionless kid, who rarely had friends for I didn’t know how to talk to people. I was such a disgrace to the family. I was not only my parent’s fourth girl child but also their most flawed child.
I reminisce about the dishonor I brought to them when I was groped by a septuagenarian. I wasn’t wearing the right clothes, that’s what my mother told me. And I couldn’t forget the disgrace I brought them by scoring badly in mathematics. The punishment I had to endure still lingers. Oh no, not the one that I received after the math results, that I think I deserved. But the one after being groped, that remains a dark memory. The slap that I got from my mother for enticing the septuagenarian and hours of verbal abuse and accusations, it still hurts in fits and starts.
I vividly remember the different instances and forms of punishment I was subjected to. This included yelling, slapping, hitting, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. But everything was normalized by my perfectly normal parents. They were concerned parents who were trying to discipline the stubborn me. And for years, I thought I deserved it all.
I moved out of my parents’ house for my graduation. That is when I first knew about the wonderful world outside where I was loved, where I mattered, where there were friends, where I could express, love, laugh, and shed tears. This was a place where I could be me, where it wasn’t my fault always, I wasn’t terrible, I wasn’t ugly, or clumsy or careless. Although the damage of the early years could not be reversed, it could be managed. Mercifully, I found the person to manage it all. My beloved picked up my broken pieces, nurtured, cared, cheered, encouraged, and held me when I stumbled.
It was his birthday. We were having dinner, just the two of us. With food stuffed in his mouth he muttered, “Hey, why don’t you marry me”?
Wow! Marriage proposal in the most unromantic way possible. He asked rather suggested marriage with no ring, no roses, and no going down on the knees, but I felt special. After decades of dejection, I felt valued. A person who loves me beyond my flaws, makes me feel beautiful inside and out, expresses his desire to spend his life with me. How could I not conform? And guess what, this was the perfect escape route for me from the horrors of the past. So I said yes without a second thought.
After our wedding all he saw was my broken soul. But he stood there like a pillar to be my strength. Things starting getting better with his love and support and the past was left behind. Henceforth, I was a guest at my parent’s place, thus there wasn’t a scope of toxicity.
With things getting better each day, we welcomed our bundle of joy, our little princess Pia into our lives.
Deep inside, I had made a silent pledge to be the best parent in the world to my kid, even before she was born. To learn lessons from what my parents did wrong and never to repeat it. But today I proved myself wrong.
My subconscious mind still dwells on the past. It was all dormant until now and a little trigger erupted the volcano. After I got back to my senses and began to think rationally, I called Pia near me, with tears of pain still running through my cheeks.
I had hurt her and I couldn’t change that. She was too scared to come closer. I sat on the ground and cried my heart out with my head digging into my knees. I kept asking for her forgiveness. Several minutes passed by when she came near, skeptical whether she should approach me or not. And then we both cried for what seemed like hours.
Kids are resilient and forgiving. Icecream, some television time, and little cajoling later she was fine as if nothing happened. But how could I forget it? How can I forgive myself for what I did?
“For a long time, I was scared I’d find out I was like my mother” this line by Marilyn Munroe always agitated me. Today I made my fears turn true.
I remember the silent promise I made to my child to not repeat any of the mistakes that my parents did. However hard I tried though, the embedded behaviour came out on the surface. My subconscious mind brought memories from the past and projected it in the present.
I hugged my daughter tightly, with tears rolling down from both of our cheeks. “Mumma is sorry. It won’t happen again”, is all I could say between sobs. I didn’t know whether she would forgive me but I apologized anyway. I wanted to let go of all the emotional buildup that had been there for days, weeks, months, and years.
No more promises. It was time for action. So the next viable thing I did was to call the receptionist at the Mind Care clinic.
Tomorrow is going to be a new day. My first step towards letting go of my past, to stop dwelling in the horrific memories and start living in the present. My booking with the renowned Psychologist Dr. Ruhi is confirmed for the next day.
Editor’s note: This short story was one of those shortlisted from a huge number of entries for the August 2020 Muse of the Month context.
Image source: shutterstock
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