I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop… I wish I could ride on the wheels and turn back into the past where there was a happier me, the real me.
I do not see the mirror too often and when I do, the person staring back is someone else. Someone with greys in her frizzy, untidy hair, dry patchy skin. I tried to smile at her but then it didn’t reach the eyes; the eyes, big but not brimming with confidence that used to be…the thought made her eyes brim with tears and I felt the warm streaks trickle down my cheeks. I closed my eyes.
The bygone era is in front of me like the visuals of a story board. I see myself as a well-educated, confident person working in a corporate set up. I loved the corporate work culture-stringent yet crisp. Working with people across seven seas, sharing my thoughts across and being appreciated. I loved it as much as I loved dressing up in formals. “You feel the way you dress” I used to tell my peers and subordinates. I was often told that people loved my sense of dressing- whether it was a pant suit for a client visit, a sari for traditional get-togethers or jeans-tees and sneakers on a lax Friday.
Other than my attire, I always wore a pleasant smile that brought some warmth to my otherwise unapproachable mien-yes I was often told that people found me rather intimidating; believe me I never tried to be that way but all the same I was told that some people were so scared talking to me that they almost ‘peed in their pants’ excuse my profanity but that’s the way it was…
When came to work, assignments, tasks to be done as part of our daily jobs, I was what peers called a thorough professional, I liked to draw clear boundaries keeping friendships, acquaintances and girly soft corners at bay. While holding the noose tight, I knew exactly when to let loose. I liked to get work done in a sustainable manner not by hook or crook. I knew that the latter works only by chance…
I was always amongst the people favoured by the management because of my smart and hard-working professional style. I often got perks like books, attending seminars and access to information that limited people had – that were envied upon by many.
And when people could get through the intimidating part, they would get to know the real me. On the other side I often heard that people at my workplace looked up to me for advice -professional and personal. Yes. Well it’s often heard that some people can just penetrate deep into your soul and siphon out your secrets-I probably was one of them! People would often, and by people I mean seniors, peers and subordinates, leave alone my girly pals; they would often confide in me, seek advice on matters of the brain, mind and heart!
Oh and also, this one brings a wry smile to my lips; people would come to me for small ailments, seeking which medicine should they take for a given injury/pain/indisposition! Well, this was due to my expertise in a certain field of human anatomy and physiology with a silver lining of an international certification. I remember, the first aid and medicine box used to be with the HR department but they too would call me and ask, and I used to say – ‘Next time I’ll add my consultation fee as part of my reimbursements!” They all would laugh.
Laugh … yes I used to laugh a lot, and I literally used to laugh out loud, that was just the way I did, even on trivial matters, frivolous things, especially on days when work was lean. I used to enjoy a cup of tea with my subordinates as much as with my peers. Working was something else to me; it used to transfer me to another world where I had my identity as myself not as someone’s daughter/wife/daughter-in-law etc etc…. I used to feel I am something. I was. I surely was; the medallions, shields and hoards of certificates were witness to what I had been.
And then…life as we know it, is like a river. It doesn’t flow with the same currents all the time. In times of deluge, the flow sweeps across everything- that deluge happened in the monsoons, a couple of years ago. And when the storm calmed, I felt myself standing on the rocky riverbed empty-handed. Where a day before I had status of my own, the next day with the certain turn of events and fate, I was diminished to a ‘nobody’. I tried to carve my way out but in vain. It seemed like there was no puzzle where I could fit in my piece. This turn of events created a hollow and before I could gather myself, I felt myself falling into this vortex called depression.
My mind and body was giving in, every little thing would bother me. I was scared to move out, meet people, and was retreating into my shell. I had become exactly opposite of what I had been. I hated the world outside. I hated light. Darkness had become my friend; I would walk out in the balcony at night. Sit there staring at the sky as if trying to find my guiding star but couldn’t. I was developing insomnia amongst other symptoms. Medical help was pondered over and after a couple of developments (or should I say deteriorations?), I sought counseling after all. Medication and meditation both in mild dosages were started. My family and I had seen the worst of my being. It was painful; it pained the brain, mind and heart more than the cramping of body. I got into the habit of comfort eating – got bloated as a result and I didn’t go for walks because I was scared to face people. The most terrible phase of life had just begun for me and it was taking me into the darker, deeper oceans of the unknown uncertainty.
My faith on everything had ceased, divinity flickered off and on. The only person at times I would talk to was my husband who refused to let go of me. He was the one who could tackle or handle me in that ‘Mr. Hyde’ state if I may put it that way. ‘Have left the world behind for you, for you take my breath away, You cannot ever fathom, how much love I have for you’ ; beautiful lines of a chartbuster that he had made his anthem, bring tears to my eyes now… two years down the line, things have started to look better, much better than before.
His telescopic vision showed me that my hands weren’t empty; there was something that I had been holding for a long time but not using and it was time that I dust it. The pen. I used to pen down stuff a lot. That was before marriage- I refuted, but he shook my conscience. A couple of randomly written stuff by me gathered attention and I started to get some assignments for writing professionally. I was unsure but my husband and family stood firm as a rock. He knew I could. I started with a jittery hand but managed to complete my assignments. It wasn’t easy at all, as it involved meeting people, visiting their offices, traveling alone and my visits to my counselor were on too. Courage and confidence started to build and then fall down like a pack of cards. It wasn’t smooth sailing there were rejections too, a lot of them. There still are, there always will be; life, as they say isn’t a bed of roses. But the thorns hurt me still.
Another warm trickle down my cheek as I open my eyes- thorns still hurt me and the wounds of the past burn up again when tears fall on them. But now I want to gather myself. I know the journey is long but I have to move ahead step by step. I am not afraid of light anymore; yes it does irk me at times. Darkness is still a friend, nights though aren’t spent walking in the balcony, I am not afraid because I don’t see the moon, because I don’t need to hunt for a guiding star in the sky- it’s right beside me. I would let the wheels of time go ahead now – I will try and smile and I will try and congregate courage to have the smile reach the eyes. My eyes will dream again, to vision, to carve out and create a niche again in the world – my world.
A deluge is desirable at times to wash away what doesn’t belong to oneself. Sometimes a storm is imperative to blow away the dust settled in time, to have the lightening in the skies light up one’s inner fire. Sometimes one needs to go through fire to come out shining like never before, I am going through the fire but I am not burning anymore. I am resplendent because of my querencia, where I draw my strength from, where I feel safe, where I feel the most authentic version of myself- the real me…