Category Archives: Of Women Around The World

Of Some Days and Others

..some days, she wants to fly. higher and away. beyond the skies. she wants to stand atop a hill, surrounded by gushing waterfalls and pink and purple sunsets and take flight and fly beyond several moons and suns. to a world of radiance. to a world of bright and happy. to a world so majestic and so beautiful. on days like those, she’s happy; a smile teases her face every now and then, curling her lips only slightly and yet, inside, she’s as happy as the world. she wants to soar. beyond and far. higher and away. and discover. some days, she feels like she’s invincible. some days, she feels like doing a little twirl and laughing out loud. some days, she’s filled with hope.

and some days, she feels sick and dead. tired. almost as if the the last drop of energy has been taken away from her and she’s cold and helpless. on days like those, she doesn’t want to fly. the sunsets and mirages don’t appeal to her. nor does the mosaic sky. she wants to curl up next to her window, covered in her blanket and drown a little deeper into the darkness of the day. by the solitary candle, she cries and lets the lone tear hide her wry smile and breaking heart. she feels like a person on the road, surrounded by buzzing landscapes of cars zooming right across her, and she stops and kneels down on the gravel and screams and yet, the world just walks by. some days, she’s broken. some days, she sits next to misted windows and talks to nobody. some days, she’s hopeless..to a point where she doesn’t want to keep going.

only, some days.

Picture Credits – Siddharth Mohanty

Of Mothers and Daughters

I have always wanted to tell you a lot many things Mom. Though these things have always been in my mind, somewhere between busy days and petty arguments, I’ve forgotten to tell you about them.

Mom, I still believe that make-up is more important than the rest of the world and that you should not glare at me while I apply my mascara because I’m young, Mom, and I need to look beautiful. And no matter how many times you tell me I look beautiful without make-up, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, I need new clothes every month or two. My friends have their wardrobes lined with the latest designer jeans and I’m quite embarrassed about the pair of faded blue jeans that I have. And no matter how many times you tell me that nobody pays that much attention to what I wear or not, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, junk food is healthy too. And it’s hygienic! It’s not like there are flies everywhere. It would be wonderful Mom if we could have pizza thrice a week. Eating pizza is kind of cool! And no matter how many times you tell me that the green salad will do me more good, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, please don’t peek into my room again and again while I’m on the phone. I know you’ve work to do, but is it wrong to demand a little bit of privacy Mom? My friends are my life Mom and it’s important to talk to them at least once a day! And no matter how many times you tell me to sit with my books because talking over the phone for so much time is bad, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

Mom, I’ve grown up! Stop calling me, “Darling”, “Baby”, “Child” and “Sweetheart” in the parking lot, Mom. I can always hear my friends giggling behind my back. I’m no longer a child, Mom. And no matter how many times you tell me otherwise, I’m still not going to believe that. My boyfriend doesn’t even tell that to me, nor do my friends. I don’t know how to believe you!

That Friday night, she sits next to her window, with her heart broken and trust shattered. The city lights are dazzling and three blocks down, people are dancing to loud music. She has been invited too, but she chooses not to go.

Her legs swing back and forth and she squeezes her palms. She’s waiting for the phone to ring and someone to tell her from the other end that it’s going to be all right. She’s waiting for someone to call, concerned and bothered about her. She’s waiting for someone to call and ask her if they should drive down there.

But there are no calls. The little story in her head is a twisted illusion. The reality is bitter and she fights not to break down into tears.

The door opens with a rather noisy creak and her mother steps inside the cold room.

“Here,” she walks closer with two boxes of pizzas and ice cream.

They sit there awhile, silently, swinging their legs back and forth to the rhythm of their synchronous breaths.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” she breaks down, clinging to her mother. “I’m sorry!”

They hold each other between the muffled sobs. When she’s done crying and finally gets up, her mother pushes the box of pizza towards her and smiles.

“Let’s talk,” she says.

Over the night, she tells her mother of all the things that had happened back in college. After the pizza boxes are empty and the ice cream has been licked clean, she hugs her mother and falls asleep with a smile.

She doesn’t feel sad about having a fight with her friends or breaking up with her boyfriend. There’s a brighter thing she sees – the bond she shares with her mother and their friendship. In her darkest times, does she realize the truest friend she has – her mother.

This time, the letter she writes is different.

I have always wanted to tell you a lot many things Mom. Though these things have always been in my mind, somewhere between busy days and petty arguments, I’ve forgotten to tell you about them.

Mom, make-up doesn’t make a girl look beautiful. For a girl will always be the most beautiful girl in her mother’s eyes.

Mom, who cares about clothes and shopping. They are not as important as family. Nothing will ever be.

Mom, I’d eat anything happily as long a you’ve cooked it. Though junk food is a very good choice after break ups!

Mom, I feel alive every time you call me “Darling”, “Baby”, “Child” and “Sweetheart” in the parking lot. It took me a while to realize that no matter how much one grows up, he or she will still be a child in their parents’ eyes.

Mom, you are the one who has always got my back. And though we may not indulge in a lot of gossips and have night-outs and go for shopping, please know that you will always be my best friend no matter what.

Years later, she folds the sheet of paper neatly and cries without her mother. Sitting next to the window, swinging her legs back and forth, she wishes for her mom to come around. The night is eternally silent. Though it is not the type of closure she had dreamt about, she knows that it’ll have to do.

Of Late Night Talks

“I’m not saying that now is the time to act, or now is not. But you’ve to get somewhere in life, right?” Mom said.

“Mom, each one of us does get somewhere in life. They just wait for their chances and their dawns. Each day can’t bring happiness for everyone. While some might have rainy days in the month of scorching May, some will have summers in Christmas. Mom, each one us needs a chance – to prove ourselves to the world; to prove that we can stand up on our feet without any help; to prove that we can touch the stars. And we need someone to believe – someone to tell us ‘I know you can do it!’ That conviction alone can drive someone to the top,” I replied. “It takes time, Mom and people have to be given time. We can’t create magic in a second. We have to toil a bit, yet despite all these, we might fail. But we have to remember that we’ll have a chance to shine and we have to grasp that golden moment.”

Mom nodded her head.

“Mom,” I continued. “May be I’m not good enough. May be I will fail an exam or two. Failure is inevitable and it must be accepted with grace. I know I’ll fall too many times. But Mom, when I do get my chance – my chance to shine, I promise the world will watch. I promise I’ll scale that mountain and reach the top and tell myself that yes, I did it. I’ll get somewhere, Mom – somewhere high and fine. But you’ve to let me seek out my own paths. You have to give me the courage to spread my wings, else I’ll never know what it is to fly and what it is to drop from the sky. I promise, Mom, that there’ll be a day you’ll tell me, ‘I knew you could do it!’ I’m just waiting for that day. I’ll not miss my chance.”

“And even if you do,” Mom interjected, “I’ll still be proud of you, no matter what.”

The clock had struck midnight by then.

Of Grandma’s Stories

I bet no storyteller can beat the way grandparents tell stories to their grandkids. Stories of lions and tigers, of brave kings and beautiful queens, of hardworking farmers and intelligent women – their stories have a different charm.

Now, I remember that during summers, when there’d be no classes, Mom would send us off to our grandma’s house.

When dinner would be over and Grandma would be done with her daily chores, she’d come into our room and tell us a story.

I used to be a big fan of ghost stories. So, when Grandma would slip under the covers with us and ask us which story we’d like to hear, I’d always beg her to tell us a ghost story. My younger cousins would nod their heads gladly, agreeing to my decision because I was the eldest among the bunch.

Grandma would turn off the lights and we’d snicker and scoot closer under the blanket, grabbing each other’s shirt, afraid that some mischievous ghost would hear us and drag us to hell!

I remember those hushed whispers and scared whimpers of my younger cousins. At times, they’d pull the blanket a little tighter around themselves or look around the room, as if looking out for the hidden ghosts.

Squeezed in the middle, amongst her grandkids, she’d slowly pat our heads or run a hand through our hair while beginning the story. When she’d speak in that cracked voice of hers, everything would fall silent. The creaking of the old fan would die down, the swaying of the coconut trees outside would come to a standstill and the stray dogs on the street would stop barking – as if to hear the story she had to stay.

Be it cold Monday nights or freezing Tuesday evenings, Grandma always had the same ghost story to tell us. Strangely, we never complained.

She used to tell us about a ghost who had a strange craving for sweets! He’d visit every house after midnight, dragging away their trunks from under the bed and search for sweets. At times, he’d walk into the kitchen and make a lot of noises. Utensils would fall down from the shelves, spoons would fly around the room and slow wails would be heard all around. It would petrify the people of the town. If only they’d known that the poor ghost only wanted some sweets.

By this time, no matter how many times we’d have heard the story, we’d huddle closer next to Grandma and wait with bated breaths, our hearts racing rapidly.

Then one day, Grandma would continue in a feeble voice, trying to add a tone of dramatic stance, the ghost’s friend who lived on the top most branch of a banyan tree, would tell his friend that people kept sweets in a refrigerator!

The poor ghost would have never heard about a refrigerator!

‘How does it look?’ he would ask.

‘It’s big and rectangular!’ his friend would tell him. ‘It makes a weird noise at times.’

With a firm determination to steal sweets from the refrigerator, the ghost would walk into a house the next night. He would run straight into the kitchen and look desperately for the so-called refrigerator.

Little Tom who would be staying there would see the ghost and ask him what he is up to. To which, the ghost would tell him the truth. Now, Tom would be kind kid and he would open the refrigerator and give the ghosts a few sweets. The ghost would be too happy and would thank the kid.

And then, he would never return.

And by this time, all my younger cousins would be silently snoring. Only, I’d be wide awake and grumble.

‘You tell the same story every night!’ I would complain.

But by then, Grandma would have dozed off too. And after twisting and turning for some time, wondering why the ghost never returned, I would fall asleep as well.

To this day, I never understood why Grandma kept telling us the same story over and over again. Though I know now that ghosts do not eat sweets, nor do they live up banyan trees and have friends, Grandma’s story continues to haunt me. I find myself thinking of how the ghost looked and why little Tom wasn’t scared on seeing the ghost.

Grandma had simple stories up her sleeves. But those stories were the ones I grew up with. And no matter how stupid they sound, I find myself telling the same story when a bunch of kids ask me to.

And on sleepless nights, when the moon would be high up in the sky and the street dogs would go on a rampage and a slow wind would blow outside, I would think of the same story and fall asleep.

Of A Christmas Without Snow

(An old lady thinks about her husband as she writes this letter… To her husband, to the snow, to the winter that is slowly withering by)

I’m thinking about you as I write this.

 An entire year has gone by in a flash. The sun was out here. Autumn did cast its cloak. The winter has arrived, but there’s no snow.

 I’m sitting in this big white room. The chandelier stares down at me in an awkward stance. Everything around me is white-dull, dark white. The walls have queer shadows imprinted on them. They trap the melancholy of this place-the silent cries, the hundred thousand dreams that threaten to ooze out of this place. The white holds the silence.

 The mist has descended from the mountain. It presses against the window, whispering against the glass. It’s as if I’m viewing the world from behind a cloaked mirror. I’m trapped within the mirror. I’m looking at the universe, seeing them stare back at me without a trace of response. It’s as if I’m no longer there.

 Slightly hitching my gown up and tucking a strand of my white hair behind my ears, I stand up and walk to the windowpane. The fabric of my gown drags behind painfully. It warns me to not breathe the breeze that has started to waltz outside the windowpane. It whispers me not to get carried away by the memories. It spreads its invisible hands and tries to hold me back.

 With every stride, I feel the cold, white marble caresses my feet. The chill presses against the wrinkles and cracked skin. They make a shiver to trail upward, but, it never touches my spine. The fabric crawls along without a noise, its shade mingling with the white everywhere. Everything around me is as white as the Christmas snow. But, what I’m looking at, casts a gray glare.

 Everything outside the window is gray. Colorless. Lifeless. Devoid of any shades. The mist has tucked them under her blanket. She, probably, doesn’t want me to see the radiant shades. She doesn’t want me to call back the kisses under the colorful mistletoe. She doesn’t want the Snowman to lure me into building a cheerful one. She protects me, only by trapping me away from the world.

 As the white ceases away from my peripheral vision, I realize I’m near the window, staring right out at the world.

 Bringing my hands up, I touch the misted glass with the tips of my fingers. It blends with the chill. A vague scent of winter seems to have sneaked into the room. It teases my senses for a spell before being withdrawn by the void of the clean room.

 It reminds me of how much you enjoyed the winter. It reminds me of the time we first met-it had been a Christmas morning. You had held my hand and guided me down the aisle. Everything had been so red and green and gray. You had taken me to the fair and bought us cotton candies. I had had my teddy bear so near to me as I had gazed into your black eyes. I had struggled with the unknown emotions at the pit of my stomach. And you had held my hands when we had kissed under the snow.

 Leaning against the frosted glass, I press my face against it. I’m not looking for warmth; I’m looking for something that feels real against my skin. You.

 See, the snow is here! The silhouettes against the shades of gray are slowly starting to bathe themselves with the Christmas snow. The universe outside is suddenly as white as the room I’m in.

 A flicker of hope takes birth in my eyes. I look down from the window, anticipating your arrival. You had promised me that you’d return with the snow.

 My eyes are refusing to stay awake. Someone is calling for me. There are faint noises around me. Everyone is so excited to see you. Everyone is waiting to hear stories of the war. I’m so proud of you already. I wait, patiently.

 Christmas is here. But it doesn’t feel real. The winter is here. The snow is here. You aren’t…

Of The Delusional Human Heart

She pulled out a few letters from the old, brown leather bag that she clutched weakly in her hands. The little young man, who had helped her get on the ride, had asked her to leave behind her bag in the waiting area, but she had smiled at him and told them that she needed to keep it with her.

She ran her hands over the skin of the letters, running the tips of her fingers along the crumpled edges of the hundred letters she had written to her husband over the year. There were blotches of ink on them and some letters had been smudged. Yet, she could read them like the back of her palm. She knew the contents of the letters, in her heart. Subsequently all, she was the one who had penned them with extreme care, debating her husband’s replied with every course she wrote with the drying ink.

How she had been so madly in love with him to write the letters and expecting him to reply back when he was serving the country at war! Oh, how she had been so madly in love with him that she kept on sending the letters without an address on them! Oh, just how madly in love she had been to write “To, My Husband” on top of the pale, yellow envelope and throw it into the mail box and require it to be handed over! Indeed, she had been so crazily in love with him that his loss was breaking her apart every second the ride moved up a short bit in the breeze.

The old mailman, with his several thousand wrinkles intricately drawn upon his face and a bald, shiny head, had seen those letters and collected them over the years. More often than not, he would have discarded them as they never carried an address, but something close to the letters reached him. Maybe it was the illegible writing of the solitary woman who sat near the window, waiting for her husband. He had lost his wife and he knew the grief. So he kept them in a corner of the post office.

And one day, he had seen the old lady make her way to the post box again. He had run after her and inquired her husband’s name. And he had written it on all her letters and sent them with the army men who occasionally came to their town.

Only, the letters had returned back to him as no one had claimed them. With a painful heart, he had given them back to the old woman.

The trumpets and several noises filled the town. The men were coming back from war. Instinctively, she looked down from there, thinking that her husband would be there, although she knew that he would never return.

Yet, a part of her held on to the hope. A part of her believed that the news reporter had made some mistake while reading out the names of the soldiers who had died on the field.

How could her husband be one of them?!

He had always been so strong and so bold!

He had survived several bullet wounds!

He couldn’t have died!

Oh, the pitiful, human heart!

With a painful smile etched on her face, she returned to those letters and read them aloud as the ride soared up. She read those letters to her husband who was probably somewhere, listening to her…

Of The Stories We Tell

I have grown up listening to stories. Fairytales. Stories of war. Stories from Grandma. Stories of returning soldiers. And so many more. So have you all, probably.

I believe that the stories I have heard have the greatest contribution in making me the person I am, today.

The best part of a story, in my opinion is the essence of the tale – the pain or the sorrow it delivers or the bundle of joy that hits us after reading the same. The characters do play a significant role, but in the end, the story is what we are left with – the one that stays with us forever.

Sometimes, I like to miss my regular train and wait awhile at the station, because I have this (strange) habit of observing people. Each random face that I come across leaves a distinct impression on my mind. At times, I forget them. Then some days, when the weather is cold and I’m sitting by the window, watching the mist settle down from the mountains, I remember them – those people who had once graced a scene along with me. The crowded places mesmerize me, actually. Instead of the maddening chaos, what I find are melodious synchrony of people from various spheres, backgrounds and families. Each one of them tells me a story. Their eyes tell me of the conquests from their pasts. Their sighing and frowning tells me of the regrets they have. Each time, they bend down to kiss their children, they tell me of their love stories.

Often, I find myself looking at the lone man at the far end of the train. He holds a newspaper and squints as the old light flickers terribly in the compartment. He wants to know what is happening around him – what is happening in the world! Or perhaps, he wants to take his mind off certain things. So he hides his tired face with those sheets of paper. Does he have a family, I wonder. I think of his wife waiting for him, staying up late so that she can see her husband before the end of yet another day. The children have been put to bed and now, she sits at the dinner table, staring at the clock, having a hundred apprehensions run in her mind.

As the station draws closer, the man folds his newspaper and tucks it underneath his coat. His shoulders fall as he breathes out a sigh of relief. He has made it past another day. Isn’t that quite an achievement in itself?

After he gets down at his stop, I see a young girl board the compartment.

She is dressed in a rich red dress that exposes a lot of skin. The few women beside me frown in disappointment on seeing her attire. She is probably headed for a party. Every few minutes, she stands up from her seat and checks herself in the reflecting windows, making sure not a strand of her hair is out of its place. She wants to look as gorgeous as her friends do. She is seeking delusional perfection.

I have the urge to go to her and tell her that she looks beautiful. However, I want to know her entire story. Why a late night party? When is she going to return?

The woman sitting beside me keeps looking at her. Is she in awe of the dress she is wearing? Does she envy the fact that the girl is young and bold and the woman sees her youth in her? Or does she disapprove her clothes? Doesn’t she see the story that the girl is telling? Is she so busy doing a character study that she forgets to enjoy the story?

The train jerks to a stop and I have to get down. The stories remain incomplete. My questions remain unanswered.

As I get out and stand on the platform to watch the train leave, I see their silhouettes against the window. They are moving, going far away. I do not get to know the other stories they carry and it frustrates me to no end. I wish to meet them again – somewhere on the road, maybe on the same train again.

A cold wind caresses my skin and I realize the train has gone and it is time for me to leave as well. As I walk down the street, under the canopy of stars, I find myself thinking about the man. Did he reach his home safely? Is he having dinner with his wife and telling her about his day? Has the girl reached the party? Are her friends complimenting her on her dress? What about the woman? Has she gotten home, yet? Is she sitting with her daughter and reliving her own youth?

Under the faint moonlight, in the silence of the night, their stories haunt me. In some parallel universe, each one of us is a story. We hold tales of remorse, pain and joy and losses. Those tales are what we present to the world. Our stories are immortal. They are as infinite as the universe that traps us in its care. And these stories continue to live beyond time and space, presenting wonderful vignettes to lost travellers.

Of The Things We Never Tell

I don’t think I can ever forget the day when I walked into the classroom on the brightest Friday morning to see a friend of mine, fumbling with a bandage roll. As soon as she saw me walking towards her (she was my bench mate), she turned away and (secretly) pushed the roll into her bag.

‘Hi?’ I greeted her, unsure of whether I should ask if she was all right or not. Sixteen years of life had taught me one of the greatest lessons – people don’t want you to ask them anything, especially when they are desperately trying to hide something.

So, I kept quiet.

‘Hi!’ she replied back with feverish enthusiasm. Her smile was way too cheerful. Her hands came around me and pulled me into a quiet hug. And she giggled or hid her sniffles under its pretext.

‘I’ve missed you so much!’

When she pulled back, I couldn’t help but notice the streaks of blood that ran down the cuffs of her red sweater. I felt an uncanny chill run down my entire body on seeing that. Till then, blood had never made me scared. But it was a sight, so painful, that for a moment I felt a sharp pain bubbling through my nose and spreading throughout.

‘You know what-‘ she continued, least aware that I had seen underneath her pretence. Pulling my hand down, she made me sit beside her.

‘He is such a nice guy, I tell you,’ she spoke with a fake happiness. The smiles and blushes never reached her eyes and I couldn’t mistake the way she gritted her teeth every time she drummed her fingers on the table. She was pulling up a perfect game.

‘He offered me roses! And you know what? He told me that I’m the only girlfriend he’s ever had!’

Under the desk, my hands felt clammy and I clenched them into tight fists. For I knew those were lies. Lies. Devastating lies. At that moment, I didn’t know who to be angry with. I was furious with my friend as she was being such an idiot. On the other hand, I knew it wasn’t her fault for the guy gave her false hopes. And she was madly in love with him, nevertheless.

‘T,’ I interjected. ‘Can I ask you something?’

She nodded.

‘Do you really like him?’

Her face twisted into a frown. I had never wanted people to misunderstand me. It so happened between friends that often, they are so caught up in a web of lies and delusional hopes that they refuse to believe you. And I didn’t want that to happen.

‘Y-yes,’ her voice broke and at that moment I realized that something was terribly, terribly wrong.

For the next few minutes, I heard the most horrific truths. There were times when I felt like giving her a hug, but I felt so cold. It was as if I was standing there, watching all this happen to her, yet I couldn’t do anything.

He abused her. Each night. Each day. Them being neighbours, didn’t help at all. Instead, it worsened things. She lived in eternal fear that her parents might find out. And that was the last thing she wanted her parents to know. She told that she can’t let them go through all the grief and pain. So for months together, she kept every emotion bottled inside her. Hurt. Fury. Pain.

There was no one she could reach out to, for she knew people would judge. They’d blame her. And it wasn’t shocking, for both of us had seen some people doing just that. There were times, she confessed, when she wanted to give up – to slit her wrists and distance herself away from all the pain of the world. For months, she took antidepressants, and battled the darkest phases, but everything seemed to be coming back to her.

‘I don’t know what to do,’ she sobbed. Her hands clasped mine and the warmth on my wrists, snapped me out of my trance. Looking down, I rolled down her sleeves to expose the deepest cuts and scars. I gasped.

‘Why?’ I asked; demanded, in fact.

‘He made me feel worthless. He made me feel like I had no right to live.’

‘He,’ I said, ‘is no god! He has no right to decide who deserves to live and who doesn’t.’

An awkward stretch of silence followed and as I looked around, I realized the other students were slowly starting to stare in our direction.

‘Everything fine?’ another friend of mine enquired.

It took me a great deal of effort to nod. I wasn’t sure if shit could be called fine.

‘Do you hate me?’ she mumbled next to me.

‘I-I am not sure.’

Perhaps it broke her, but I knew that I was going to do anything to pull her out of the mess. I was going to do anything to walk her to the lighthouse that helped many a wandering traveller.

We are no angels. We make mistakes. Small mistakes. Big mistakes. But they shouldn’t define our future. They shouldn’t make us give up in everything and consider ourselves worthless. Each one of us has dark days. Cold days when blistery winds seem to cast a veil on the land. At some places, winters last longer. But when the summer comes, it arrives in all its pleasant glory. All we need to do sometimes is, wait for the summers. And we need to believe that they will be there, no matter what.

At times when we feel like giving up, we must not submit to the urges. The universe promises a wonderful life for each one of us. And what a pity if we don’t live it! Why shouldn’t we!

Today, my phone beeps to her message.

‘How are you?’ she asks.

‘How are you?’ I reply back.

‘You rescued me.’

And I smile in relief.

We all need something to pull us out of the mess; someone to rescue us in our darkest days.

Of Scars That Remain Behind

People are always looking for ways to get rid of scars. Who wants to carry a bundle of sad memories anyway?!

They try the best creams, visit a doctor, obsess too much over the broken skin. I really don’t understand why everyone needs to have flawless skin.

Perhaps the creams might heal the skin and a few tablets and a dash of make-up may get rid of the slight bump, but there’ll always be the ghost of a wound there. The wounds heal but they never go away completely.

The scars hold the stories. Just like a person’s eyes gives away a lot about how they are feeling, scars are like secret road maps, holding painful histories.

The scars remain behind for a good reason, though. To remind. Maybe the skin pulls up a new face with each passing year, but we still remember our scars and everything that has ever hurt us.

When we are down and the sky is dark, the scars remind us that we can live through that, for there have been darker days. They tell us to hold on, for light awaits us.

The scars remind us to have strength in our darkest hour.

They sketch blurred vignettes of our life. The painful ones. We remember where exactly it hurt and why.

And how it healed.

Of Expectations That Kill

Come March and I bet my parents’ blood pressures hike up drastically. It’s exam time and though children are supposed to be the ones facing the question papers, the parents are on a special marathon as well. They wake up with the child; they sit with them as they read; the house is ten decibels quieter as everyone seems to be speaking in hushed whispers and in short, it is as if someone has just died in the house! Indeed, someone has…

Think about the child for once. Do the parents have this much knowledge of what the child is going through? Waking up for late nights is no big deal, but do the parents carry that heavy burden of expectations that the child carries? Do they know that this load is slowly killing their children?

I think the biggest problem of our times is the tremendous amount of competition around. No doubt, competition pushes everyone to give their best, but in the same breath, there is no real learning because everyone is too busy, with their gazes focused on the finish line. Everyone wants to be a winner! And our universe, unfortunately, has a rule book that states that only one person can be the winner. But does that mean the person who comes last, is worthless? Does that mean the person who came second is not as good as the first? Does that mean the person with a broken leg never deserved to come first?

In the race to perfection, lies the problem.

I happened to read this in a very beautiful book : Each one of us, is born perfect.

And I agree with it. When children are born, there is absolutely no comparison. We don’t measure how loudly they cry or how many times they sneeze. We are plain happy. Period. And that implies, we all had once been, perfect!

It is when we start growing up, that comparisons begin. Suddenly it’s about how fast a child can grasp the alphabets and the other can’t! It’s about how quick one kid grows, but the other doesn’t! Comparison kills the perfection we had grown up with. And most of the parents, just wouldn’t accept that. If you are short, they’d ask you to play basketball! If you are dull in studies, they’d hire a hundred tutors! If you can’t draw, they’d send you to a class! In short, they can’t just accept the fact that each child has certain limits.

Just like everyone can’t dance or sing or paint, everyone can’t have perfect grades or a perfect personality or a perfect physique!

Why do we chase perfection? We are like this, and this is perfect! And why wouldn’t anyone understand that?

It gets particularly serious when a person reaches teenage. He/she is constantly compared and asked to become like someone else. My parents want me to become the best doctor. My neighbours want their son to become the best teacher. Why does everyone want the best? Why can’t average be just as good?

I happen to have arguments with my mum constantly, whenever she tells me to study else I can’t get anywhere in life. I ask her, why? Why do I need to get somewhere in life? Is it the sole purpose of life to get a fine job and have a fine house? Is it the sole motive and agenda of life?

She tells me that people have too many expectations from me. And the very realization, kills me from inside, just like it kills several other people in my place. It is scary. There’s always a nagging fear that if I don’t live up to their expectations, where will I be? Will people still like me?

What scares me even more is the fact that I’ve never let anyone down and it is only natural that people believe that I’ll shine again. But what if, what if I don’t? Don’t I stand a chance in the world? Will it be the end of the world?

Each night, I sit thinking of what might happen if I fail – fail to reach that mark they have set for me? I see nothing but frightening darkness. And the chill haunts me. It makes me want to breakdown and cry my heart out. Because that load of expectations is overwhelming. Each random person who I meet and who tells me, “You are a great student. You’ll do just fine!”, contributes to that load. If only they had known that I was nothing but an average student!

As I sit at my desk, writing down these random musings, I wonder of the many students who go through these depressing periods. Hope seems scarce. And in a moment of utter frenzy, it feels like everything is lost.

I tell my mum to worry less and to expect lesser. Instead, I tell her to hope. I ask her to hope that I do good, and not expect I reach perfection. To be honest, I don’t even know what is perfect perfect!

And I lean back on my chair and tell myself that even if I fail, it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t be.