Friday, May 30, 2014

The Easy Way Out... Or is it?

She adjusted her pallu before stepping out into the living room. As soon as she opened her bedroom door, the all-too-familiar wailing of her newborn son reached her ears. She frowned. Before she even had a chance to figure out what was wrong, her mother-in-law thrust the crying baby into her arms.
"He is hungry," she said, "go and feed him."
"But, I just fed him 15 minutes ago," she replied, a little annoyed, "maybe it's something else. Have you checked his nappy?"
"Yes, it is nothing else. He is hungry," she pushed her daughter-in-law inside her room muttering to herself, "I don't understand these new age mothers... Can't even feed their own babies."
She sat on the bed and took the baby in her arms. She stared at him as he suckled contently. Like other mothers, she didn't feel a spiritual connection. She didn't feel a rush of maternal warmth. She just felt uncomfortable and irritated and angry.

*

She tried on her old kurta and stared at herself in the mirror. As expected, it was couple of sizes too small. She took it off and tried another one... then another... then another... As the pile of clothes strewn across her bedroom floor increased, her patience decreased. She saw, from the corner of her eyes, her son putting a small coin into his mouth. Instead of running to him, she stood rooted to the spot... wishing for him to swallow it.
'It's all because of you,' she thought silently, 'you have ruined everything... my body, my career, my life.'
After a moment, the small boy spat the coin out and went about his play happily, oblivious of his mother's growing resentment towards him.
Seeing the coin at the floor, she felt a stab of disappointment. Almost instantly, her reaction shocked her. The thought of her wishing for his son's death scared her.
'I am the worst mother ever,' she sat down on the floor, disgusted with herself, and cried silently.

*

"I need to talk to you," she whispered to her husband.
"What now?" he asked, a little agitated.
"I think I need help. I don't feel so good. I get so angry at him and then there are these thoughts... these... these vile thoughts--" But, before she could explain her current state of mind, her husband cut her off.
"Don't start again. I know looking after a kid is hard work... and I know you are tired and a little overwhelmed, but everyone goes through this. Everyone raises kids yaar, you are not the first one. It's just a phase, you'll grow out of it. Relax and chill," he turned off the light and slept.
She sat motionless. She knew it was not a phase.

*

It was a hot afternoon. She wanted to take a nap but her son was in a playful mood. She indulged him for a while... singing songs, playing hide and seek, colouring with him... thinking he will get tired and sleep too. But, when hours ticked by and he still wouldn't lay down, she lost her cool. She threw him roughly on the bed and started patting his back, a little hard. The confused child started crying. The louder his wails, the more she got angry. Finally, fed up of his screams, she slapped him, right across the face. He shut up, stunned. With his hand on his reddening cheek and tears pooling on his eyelids, he stared at his mother.... the mother who just moments before was laughing with him, playing with him, singing songs with him. The look of betrayal and hurt and shock on her three year old son's innocent face broke her heart. She covered her face with her hands and sobbed. She didn't know why she got so angry. She, for the life of her, couldn't fathom the reason behind her mood swings. She couldn't understand why he got on her nerves so much. She felt a tiny palm on her cheek. She removed her hands to see, her son looking at her with worried eyes.
"What happen? Mumma sad? Mumma hurt?" he inquired. Before she could say anything, he placed his hands on his ears, "sorry mumma. sleepy time."
Without another word, he lay down on the bed and closed his eyes.
She couldn't stop herself. With tears streaming down her eyes, and her guilty conscience rearing it's ugly head once again... she hugged him tightly and wept bitterly.

*

 That night, after tucking her son into bed, she was standing all alone in the balcony staring at the cloudless sky dotted with million stars and a lone yet beautiful moon.
"I know your secret moon... you look so happy surrounded by all these stars but I know you are all alone. These stars, your so-called companions are millions of miles away. Just like me... i have all these people in my life - friends, family - but in reality, I am all alone too... just like you."
She sighed and looked back at her sleeping son and snoring husband.
"I hope one day, everyone would understand why I did what I did. I hope they realize that I had to do this for my son's safety, for his sanity, for his well-being."
She blew a kiss to her unaware family and jumped.

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