If you saw ‘her story’ as scenes from a movie, from afar, akin through the lens of a camera, perhaps she might look like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of her husband’s pyre. In truth, it was a matter of putting one foot in front of another, day after day. You might call her strong or even admire her for her courage. In fact, she was shattering and stitching herself back together in the darkness of the night, every night. No, she did not want to be a victim of circumstances but a survivor who lived on. And lived well.
This story is written as an experiment as a combination of prose and poetry that tell a story through ‘glimpses’ into the emotions and thoughts of the protagonist.
I squeeze hard, to flatten my ears with my palms.
Her screams feel like hooked icicles digging and burrowing themselves into every inch of my skull.
I try to shut it out but to no avail.
Who is that woman behaving like this at my husband’s funeral?
What is she to him?
All eyes are on her
Can’t she sense the pity?
Feel the embarrassment?
The looks of shame directed towards her?
Or am I mistaken?
Is everyone looking everywhere else except in the direction of her incessant wailing?
Doesn’t make a difference to her:
she is submerged in a pain
so forceful so intense
greater than she could have ever imagined.
a stranger to her
who had been ebbing in the shadows
until that moment when
reality outpaced denial.
she is gasping for him now
shattering like a mirror getting hammered
that’s never going to be sewn back together.
She does not care who is around her.
Still, I wish she would stop screaming
Who is she?
…..the thought persists.
She is me.
– ‘the day’, the funeral, the widow
let go of that hurt
for one night
so that you
-self-preservation, life must go on for those still breathing
I smile because
little confused eyes are looking
up at me
through this haze that is called a day
cause everyone needs me
needs me to be strong
show them the way
– the first few days
I stood in front of my husband’s auditing firm,
my feet rooted to the ground,
there was a grand canyon in front of my feet,
dug by insecurities not only my own.
“She has never worked a day in her life”, they said.
I believed them.
But a little worm wriggled at the corner of my brain,
refusing to be silenced. It squeaked out its opinion.
It threw words like ‘consistent’ and ‘determined’ my way.
Hadn’t I risen with the sun each day
to fill vibrantly hued plastic pots
with fresh water to the brim
lugging them up the stairs
even on days
when I hadn’t slept a wink
with a baby all night at my breast
and even on days
when I had taken care of my mother-in-law
as her fever wreaked havoc on her limp frame?
I said, “that just gave me strong shoulders”
It said, “you can become an expert at anything you set your heart to.
Could anyone beat the taste of your pineapple rasam?
Hadn’t Anjam mama said you made the best kathirikkai varuval in town?
Have you tasted your cheese macaroni?
sometimes all of them cooked for a single meal?”
I said, ”Ok, I had garnered some culinary prowess.
How would help in running an auditing firm?
It increased its pitch.
Dint you handle the groceries? the bills?
the servants and the milkman?
the electrician and the plumber?
the expenses and the budgets?
the vacations and the pilgrimages?
the toddler’s melt-downs?
the health of all around?
I said,”All women do that!”
“Then all women can do this”, pat came its reply.
I couldn’t think of anymore refutes, so I took the leap.
– “How will she handle the business?”
*kathirikkai varuval – brinjal fry
Have you seen the movie “The Pursuit Of Happyness”? If you haven’t, let me give you a quick run down. The movie starts off with the hero, played by Will Smith, hitting rock bottom. His wife leaves him because his business of selling portable scanners tanks. So, he has no money, and to top it off he has a son to take care of. He chances upon an opportunity to become an unpaid, intern stock-broker. He is homeless but hardworking, and after a lot of dramatized ups and downs, he finally, finally, gets the job. Now comes my favorite part, he walks down this crowded street and does a little jig as the narrator in the background says, “this part of my life is called happiness”.
Well, I guess this is that day of my life. The day I am finally allowed to be happy. The day I am supposed to run down a street, or throw my hat in the air or twirl around in joy. But, I just sit here. Immobile. A cup of tea in one hand, and some papers from work in the other. Maybe, that is because I know life isn’t like the movies. It doesn’t end abruptly at happily ever after. Maybe, I know life is just a series of events, from which we need to grab the bits of joy it permits our way. Maybe, it has been years of hard work, dotted with crests and troughs, days when I could hardly move, that day when I got my first client, days when I held my son when he sobbed, days when my family was my backbone. Or maybe it just hasn’t sunk in yet.
I am 44, a mother of a 20-year-old son. Today, I passed my C.A exam. I officially have the qualifications now, but I have been managing an auditing firm since I took the leap. Life will continue to go on now, as it did before. I will sit here savoring my moment of silence until I come to the next mountain.
– the climax, or just another day in her life.
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