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We often depend heavily on our assumptions and miss out on great relationships. Being open and honest may stop us from losing the people we love.
I sat writing my personal diary, a habit I picked up in my teenage years. That evening, my parents were out and I sat writing in my Maa’s bedroom. Suddenly, my pen gave up on my stressful outbursts. I was penning down on my poor diary about the pain that the torturous eleventh standard syllabus gave me, after the graceful Board exam results.
I knew my Maa’s personal diary had a pen in it and started looking for it as I didn’t want to move to my study to fetch another pen and disturb the flow of my thoughts. And while I did find the pen, I found something else beside it. A letter! I knew I should not look through other people’s personal items but I couldn’t resist glancing through it. It was from a very dear uncle, a family friend of our’s.
As I my eyes looked through the letter’s contents, my heart began beating faster than ever. My hands shook and I sat on the bed, reading it again and again.
“Let’s renew our old friendship by getting my son and your daughter married”, it read.
The words of the letter seemed blurred. What was this? My mother loved this uncle since her childhood days and now they wanted me to get married to his son, without even giving me a hint of this development.
How could Maa do this to me? What about all my dreams, my hopes, my aspirations and my career ahead? And how could she cheat on my Baba by keeping in touch with Uncle like this! Hell broke loose on my mind. Dark clouds of distrust and disrespect for my Maa started slithering around in my innocent heart like snakes. I kept imagining things, inspired by all the movies and serials I see on television. So, my Maa was a cheater! She cheated on my Baba! My world went dark.
Maa returned with some beautiful skirts and tops for me and my favourite dinner on their way back home. I didn’t even look at them properly and ate my dinner feeling so disturbed. Maa worriedly said, “Don’t worry too much about your heavy syllabus dear. If you study hard, you can do well through it all, I know”, she added with a smile. I hated her smile for the first time in my life. ‘Oh yeah, and as soon as I’m done with my exams, you shall get me married to your lover’s son?’ I kept thinking bitterly. All sorts of irrational and baseless thoughts took over my mind.
Baba was an innocent man and I felt Maa had cheated him at every moment. I lacked the maturity to talk about all this clearly with my Maa. Maa realised something was wrong with me but couldn’t exactly make out what it actually was.
Let me tell you all, Maa has been very a practical, responsible, dutiful and an intelligent woman. She loves books and has won many prizes for recitations, sports, studies, acting and was selected for military nursing but had to turn it down due to family pressures. Being refugees from Bangladesh, her entire family depended on her income and mental strength, after her eldest brother, an air force officer, died in a plane crash. She is the strongest lady and has faced anything and everything. A woman like her, I’ve seldom come across. She has been my living goddess since childhood.
Distrusting Maa was killing me inside. But, I failed to speak up to her openly regarding this. The mental struggle was too heavy for my age and I kept sinking every day. I was rapidly losing weight and I lost interest in every activity in life. My studies alien to me. I would open my books and the letters on them got blurred as my eyes would well up with tears. I couldn’t sleep and studying Physics after school felt like a distant dream.
My Baba was worried seeing me in this state and could not make out why his daughter with an excellent result in the Board exams was constantly failing in Chemistry and was barely in Mathematics and Physics. The simple reason was – I never studied. The most important classes of my life went by without any work, ruining my future career. Why should I study, I would think, when I am to be married off soon? It was as if someone were to butcher me soon after my schooling. All my dreams in life had to be sacrificed for my Maa’s happiness. Only because she could not marry the love of her life, I had to marry his son and make her happy. This was how I was to repay her love for me.
All sorts of stupid thoughts clouded my thought process. I was depressed. I stopped talking to everyone, stopped eating well and almost never slept.
I was my dad’s pet, everyone who has read my blog on ‘Dad’s Smile’ knows that. The reason behind this was that I hardly spent time with my mother during my childhood days. She kept busy, owing to her work and her in laws’ tortures that she had to face. Moreover, she had huge responsibilities to carry on her shoulders towards her physically challenged sister, younger brother and elderly parents. She knew dad took good care of me and she let us enjoy our time together.
But I kept craving for motherly love which I missed terribly as a little girl. I felt Maa was being selfish for not loving me and Baba. I thought she was proud and never cared about us. This distanced us and I could never speak openly to her about my emotions.
As time passed, various meets were arranged between Uncle’s family and mine. His son who was studying Law then. I soon realised that we were from different social backgrounds and had very different upbringings. I hated his mom for being orthodox. I did love my uncle dearly and he too was quite affectionate towards me.
I passed my school level somehow, not up to the mark of a student that I was, with the help of sedatives for my depression. I took Economics as a graduation subject in a nearby college. My health deteriorated owing to bad climatic conditions and poor meals at the college mess. Maa decided to take voluntary retirement and rented a small house for us, leaving my dad behind.
We started staying together, day and night. I cuddled into her in my sleep like a little girl, and tried to make up for all the nights I had missed her during as a child. Subconsciously, all the unfulfilled moments of childhood surfaced, and I started seeking love from her like a kid.
I was in the second year of my college when one day while returning from college, I bought an ice cream, the stick one, from the roadside vendor and licking it ran back home to share it with Maa. As Maa happily licked the melting ice cream, I remembered all those moments we had happily spent in my childhood. Rare but quality time she had blessed me with – snuggling closer to her on winter afternoons in balcony, imagining figures in clouds, enjoying ice creams together on our shopping days, when she had an evening shift, reading Tagore’s Geetanjali and Sanchaita together and Maa explaining the poetry to me.
That night, I asked Maa in whispers, “Maa, who do you love more, Uncle or me?”
She remained silent for sometime. It took her only a few seconds to realise everything that what had gone wrong in the past couple of years. She asked me, “Did you read your uncle’s letter? You read only his letter, right? Do you know what was my reply? Why didn’t you talk about this?”
Warm tears of anguish flowed down my cheeks, “Who would I have opened up to Maa? You had no time for me. You never cared to find time. I needed you. Baba loves me, but he lacks the depth to understand certain things. I needed you, but you were not there.” I burst out.
We hugged each other and let all of our complaints and agony. Both of us cried and cried. Maa finally spoke in a choked voice, “I was waiting for you to grow up and understand me one day, dear! No one else understood me. I was so lonely, trying to keep strong. In managing everything, I missed your childhood. I too missed motherhood dear, but I had to take care of many other things.”
I was realising things clearly now. I was growing up and the clouds over my thoughts were getting cleared. Maa said, “As an immature and idealistic teenage girl, I had loved your uncle, but he married a fairer girl, attracted by her beauty. I had responsibilities then and studied hard, found a job and took care of my family. Your dad loves me and I never lied to him. He accepted me knowing everything about me and still supports me. I have no weaknesses towards the man now. You and your dad are my world. I shall turn them down if you don’t like the boy.”
A heavy rock seemed to have lifted from the top of my chest with Maa’s words. I felt lighter but ashamed and remorseful for thinking so low of my mother. I fell at her feet and asked for forgiveness. She picked me up, kissed me and told me that she was my friend from now on, and I could share anything, anytime I wished to. She was living only for me now.
She said, “You shall know what a child is to her mom, once you become a mother yourself. How can I even think of loving anyone more than you, Pagli!”
I have tears in my eyes even now, remembering those days of distrust for my mother in my life. It had felt as if I had lost trust of my very own self. Only when the dark clouds of disrespect got cleared, did I breathe in fresh air, living to the fullest with my Maa. Late as it may be, the time spent with her were the best in life since then.
Since then, I had only one best friend in my life, ‘My Maa’. We visited cafes together, sang Tagore’s songs, we cooked and tried new dishes together. She chose dresses for me and she still helps me with the pleats of my saris.
We should always try to communicate openly with every person in our life, in order to keep our relationships unbreakable and unshakable. If distrust creeps in, death follows soon. Life feels miserable and bitter when we stop talking to our dear ones, because of our own perceptions of them. We may be wrong – we may be overlooking their point of view and their difficulties in life. One sided truth is just a small side of the entire picture. We must broaden our vision before judging and labelling people.
Life is beautiful, people are more beautiful. Let’s explore each other’s difficulties and help each other through life’s journey.
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A single mom, freedom lover, passionate about life, self-employed (teaching and learning), love writing and connecting to people. read more...
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