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She needs no relations. She is all in herself happy. Talking to these many known unknown faces she is living her life.
I have seen her many a times now, strolling along the road with her long walking stick. She looks old, not very much but yes may be in her late 60’s. Women seem to accept reality much before it actually rings. Every morning as a ritual she appears somewhere from the backside of my house crossing the road in her damn slow speed. There is a bench right in front of my house on the other side of the road which is my old lady’s resting nest in morning. Reaching the roadside, she slowly settles her one foot on the little heightened pavement, then balancing her pluffy body on her walking stick with one hand she pulls her gown up with other, cautiously lifting her other foot.
The old lady’s careful moves reflect her cautiousness. She is too wary of almost everything. Things that buzz .Also things that lay silent. Pits, boulders, horns. Squealing school buses, boisterous autos, careless people or careful dogs. Her worn senses try to react to all. She gazes everything for so very long it feels she knows the art of seeing inside. The part that mostly we try to hide or the part that even we don’t know ourselves.
She is all covered today. Declaring, the onset of winters. Packed in a off white loose stretched gown and a long grey sweater with socks, muffler and a large woolen cap she is gazing every passerby. An activity she finds pleasure in. But most of all ,my old lady wears an endearing smile that radiates naturally whenever someone stops by to talk her.
The road that runs before my house takes a sharp turn to the right after few yards. And I have noticed her watching constantly to that end. I wonder her charms in watching people vanishing and emerging. It’s been many days now since I have been peering on her. And unconsciously she seems to be a part of my life now. It happens. Many a things in our daily life, like a new plant, a pet or some routine sounds like whistling of a train off nearby track or chimes of a loud clock in your drawing room or chanting and prayers from nearby temples or your milkman, that smile on your guard’s face, one or may be all of them somewhere become an important part of our life.
And somewhere since my leg broke in a small accident near the office and I was confined to stay at home, this unknown lady slid into my life .Silently.
Malti, my maid had often asked to move my working desk away from that window. The window that connects me to this unknown old lady. It is so difficult madam to clean the window, you should thank my slim figure, I can walk in the little gap left after your table. Why don’t you shift your table other side madam. She asks stretching her painted lips though she knows my answer well. Malti has this queer habit. She never gives up making attempts even when there is least possibility of success. And so many a things in my new house are arranged as per her choice and comfort. But even before, when I was married, it was always never my choice that survived in the house. It was always his.
26 November, Sunday, the day we tied the knot. Arun was adamant of keeping the ceremony low key. A minimalist by nature he never believed in showing off. My thoughts resonated with his and so our parents had little choice left. I still remember his cheerful face that day. Dressed in a peach kurta and white pyajama he stood tall. With a square jawline and a little mole on his chin he laughed at frequent gaps. His happiness pouring unbarred. A small headgear of flowers with two little hanging ends were tied to his and my head. Part of ritual must in a Marathi wedding. My mother was the most happiest person on earth, the day I introduced him to her. Avni, you are lucky, she had said softly. But I knew my Ma was lucky, too, as the boy must be Marathi, was her only concern.
And so though ours was love marriage everyone was happy and contented in their own hearts.
Soon after marriage we had to move to Singapore. I was on cloud nine. There was more fun than I ever dreamt of. The happiest days of my life. We tried to explore every corner of the new place. All into each other we were writing a beautiful chapter of our new life. But slowly changes were creeping in. Arun had his job responsibilities and as the days passed he started getting busier in his job.
In the day when Arun was at office I used to sit on the window peeping through all the nuances of the new culture I was a part of now. The little park in front gave me company. Like a perfect benefactor extending warmth to all. There was a routine set up of all and hence different crowd filled it at different time. People would jog, run or chat in the morning hours. The oldies watching them through the thick glasses on there eyes. Checking out the new generation comparing them with theirs. Satiating, in a feeling that their time was better than the flying crowd now. I waited for the evenings more .
Well prepared like a curious spectator I would sit cozily on my sofa with a steaming cup of tea. And then see how slowly one by one the park welcomes all its little guests. In no less time the scene would turn in a complete mirth with scattered group of children playing frivolously all around. After some days now I even could recognize their behaviors. Like some little ones always preferred sliders. It is wonderful to watch how humans develop personal choices so early. Their preference to one thing over other. Like I preferred to give up my career for Arun.
And now after near to five and a half month this random passing thought bedevils me of my appropriateness of choice. Every time when Arun bids me bye while moving for work and I wave him in my night clothes lazily. When he attends his phone calls and shows a finger on mouth to keep shut while he addresses his clients. Every time it reflects of him being worth something, of him progressing, his business and of him working for us .All these many times I miss my self. But it was a choice I made deliberately. Choosing Arun over my govt. job.
Arun was very particular of every big small thing in his house. Like placing slippers always in its place or a towel should always be folded first and then hanged. Taking out one chappati at a time. Not eating cucumbers with tomatoes. Folding shirts in a particular way and most of all talking softly. With time I was trying to adapt to his many demands, principles and his way of life.
The news came to us as a blow. There were these three looks in the doctor’s room. I was lying on a bed with the doctor moving in the jelly machine on my open area near and below the navel. My jeans unzipped and lowered to let him allow ingress into areas that had legitimate access to only Arun. Happy was the doctor face, busy in figuring the grown up vitals of the newcomer. Shocked and bewildered was Arun, may be thinking how he will manage things. Angry was I, mentally blaming Arun for all those nights and some days.
Dodo, my cute boy was born just ten days before our first anniversary. With the complexities hovering around my pregnancy, everyone sagely advised us to be in India with the family. And so Dodo on his birth was an Indian citizen on Indian soil. No adulteration involved. In spite of everyone being around I soon understood what the word responsibility means. I knew I was responsible for a life. And the next word added to my life was sacrifice. I would sacrifice everything happily. My sleep, hot food, walks, talks, even bath sometimes.
Day after day Dodo and I grew closer and the old love birds grew farther and farther apart. Arun grew busier with his office. I would sometimes dream of strong branches of a tree all wrapped around him tightening their grip inch by inch to suck him all. But sometimes when Arun sat free and I would ask him to hold Dodo while I finish off my some routine tasks, he would try to ward off giving one excuse or other. And if somehow I insist him still he would make Dodo lie down on his side and he would dig his head in the only savior he has, his mobile.
Sometimes I felt Arun purposely worked more in office, a way to shrug off baby responsibilities. He had these many dreams with his life and somewhere they were shattered now. He was not mentally prepared for the baby as me. I hence always tried to appease him showing my understanding side. Let us take life happily of whatever it brings.
No one could had ever gasped of the little thorny shoots budding in our so called happy married life. But not always adjustments have the strength to pacify the inner chaos. Instead they take a toll which is irreversible .like a violent river warding off everyone in its path.
With every day it was getting more difficult for me. With time and distance the volcano inside me blasted and now we started having fights on every big small thing. My uneasiness within drifted me from all my relations. I used to feel alone inside, struggling with all the change. The world was still around but it seemed to disappear for me. And there was only me and Dodo. I started babbling now on anyone giving me any advice. I would often blame anyone in front for my condition which I felt was pathetic. I hated all relations now.
It was an odd summer day when we decided to separate. The formalities were done under a thick carpet of silence. No complaints, no dilemmas and no malevolence. Dodo was five then.
Its been ten years since then and all these years carrying my divorcee status I learnt a lot. It was a struggle to survive financially, emotionally and socially. I learnt to breathe under the air of whispers judging my character. Judging what went wrong and who is to be blamed. Slowly, I started avoiding people. There was somewhere a deep sense of guilt that had cropped in my little heart. Guilt of not adjusting, guilt of not bearing a bit more and guilt of keeping Dodo away from Arun.
I lived like a machine these many days. Working and taking care of Dodo. Doing all the necessary stuffs. With time I forgot my past life but the deep inner guilt remained unwavered. Also, Dodo has grown with his own understanding. He thinks I have always been like this. Boring and silent.
But, now I see my old lady, all contended in herself. Alone but not really. She needs no relations. She is all in herself happy. Talking to these many known unknown faces she is living her life.
I sit on my window, contemplating why can’t I start afresh. Why can’t I trust myself. Why can’t I be happy within.
I wasted my life blaming self. Situations happen. And it is never only your fault. Everyone has the right to live happily. It took me time to come to this insight. All my past I have been savoring my own guilt.
But maybe as I get older, I begin to see beauty where I least expected it before. In me.
Image source: Pixabay
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Senior working professional in a reputed firm.Live,love and let live,my philosophy of
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