The rain drops gently made their way into the oblivion of the glass and wood wedge. She couldn’t help but think how she was so much like this rain drop. Celebrated for all its life vanishing to bring joy and life to the world. Being a mother is such a curse. You are destined to live for your family, loving them unconditionally; or at least pretending to do so.
She couldn’t exactly pin point the day her husband turned from a lover to a friend. Neither she remembered the day the friend turned into a roommate. She did however remember the time she laughed uncontrollably at her mother-in-law, slipping face first into the lap of a lungi clad relative and was reprimanded for it. Not that it was the right thing to do, it was the knowledge that she is judged for her laughs and tears that scared her.
A lifetime of social propriety and two well brought up children somehow did not compensate the loss of her own identity.
This was a good day to start afresh she thought. After all aren’t birthdays supposed to be special? Especially 60th.
Sandhya looked at the feast that she had spent cooking lovingly the entire day. She had ensured everybody’s favorite would be there on the dining table. Dressed in a plain light pink sari (Indian ethnic wear) she turned around one last time to have a look at the life she was choosing to leave behind unsure of if she would ever be back.
The fine lines over the back of her hand stretched a little as she lifted the bag filled with her clothes and a few family pictures. As painful as it was, she stopped to remove the pictures.
She switched off the lights. “Electricity is too expensive” she thought. A few minutes later she was in the cab going away as the sun set against her silhouette.
Anand returned at 7.00 pm, much earlier than his usual post midnight time. With a cake in his hand to celebrate his mother’s birthday. He walked in only to find his father silently sitting in a corner while his sister was frantically speaking to some relative.
His heart sank as he knew what possibly had transpired but still settled down at the dining spread to see some sheets of paper placed under the his favorite 'gulab jamuns' (desserts)
He held the paper in his hand to read.
“I really do not know where to begin. But today was a very special day. For the past many weeks I have been feeling so blessed with all of you paying me such attention and taking care of me with all the love that one could possibly hope for. It just wasn’t normal. Two days ago, I went to meet our family doctor and figured out the big secret of me suffering from Cancer. A secret you all thought best to keep from me. After all, a silent brain tumor would never come to the fore to make me realize this catastrophe right?
Wrong. The real tragedy was not the cancer. It was the fact that all your love together could not compensate for the fact that I cried that night not thinking of any of you but myself. I know it sounds horrible. But the truth is when I discovered that I did not have more than 6 months to live, my only thought was that there is nothing more worse than knowing that you do not have enough time to figure out who you are.
For the first time in my life I did not want to be a martyr or a goddess. No I do not want to be your mother Anand and Preeti. I don’t want to be your wife Rajiv. I just want to be me; and I don’t know how.
That is the scariest part.
I hope it does not sound like I do not love you all or that I do not care for you or that I am blaming you all for any of this. This is what probably sounds like a shock that I have got. No.
But for the first time, I want to admit that I did love myself and continue to do so. I had a choice, I could surround myself with all of you. My family and my loved ones and choose to go away from this world peacefully. Or just once, take a risk and figure out if I am anyone other than what any of you see me as.
I could not spend my remaining days trying to make peace with the fact that I lived with my family but I never lived with myself. That is what I want. I am leaving because if I did not, you would all never leave my side. All I want is to spend some time with myself and see if I like me. On my deathbed I deserve to know if I liked myself or not.
Am I coming back? I don’t know. If I live long enough to answer the question I promise I will. If I don’t I hope you can someday understand why I walked out without meeting any of you.
I am leaving behind my cell phone and all other formalities cleared. I will get in touch as soon as I can figure out where I am headed. Take your time and see if you can understand the human being behind the relationship you love.
Think of my 60th birthday today as my retirement. A mother must retire too. She is more tired than anyone else."
“Golden years for a reason”, Anand thought and smiled to himself. His mother was always the bravest of all of them.