When She Was Searching
When She Was Searching
By Kamala Sarup
Why does the mind turn sentimental while I am walking? The word failure is such a gulf of life from where I constantly try to escape to an endless journey.
I began the journey maybe, in order to keep my days safe from death, or perhaps for a possible honor after death, where I broke myself up and now, am crying all alone. A human being has a short existence and I am not an exception.
Why couldn't I encompass myself in words?
Perhaps to go on being shattered constantly is to escape from life and to be unable to shape the circumstances according to the needs of the time is not to succeed in keeping life in equilibrium. I know that the ideal I have envisaged for my life will pull me down heavily each day with my steps. And again, seeing my own life, I would be as sentimental as I am now.
My friend is chronically sick. She is incapable of coping with a situation with enormous difficulties that emerge due to limited financial income.
I know that her father, like in the past years, will not send any letter, not offer any communication - she does not know, is he dead or alive. My friend became chronically ill, crying all the time with the thought of her father's harsh treatment.
I too get completely exhausted trying to console my friend and cry a lot. This crying has no end. There is no solution except to get emotionally upset and drop tears incessantly. Her father left her to join the foreign army when she was just a lass of six years. She faintly tries to remember him, but a dim memory of a shattered girl and her father has no value.
Her Mother goes on relating to me how she met her husband for the first time at the market, "My daughter, I was poor. I used to gather firewood and carried to the town to sell. In the meantime, my husband had come from the army on leave. He was quite handsome to look at. We fell instantly in love with each other. I left the village and my dear friends, the forest, slopes and cliffs, to come to Kathmandu. He went back to his army but returned to me every year during the festival. He brought many things for me. I was happy, but, my daughter, I heard sometime later that he married another woman."
Her mother couldn't control herself further and cried bitterly. I know it fully well that after this, her father didn't send any money to them nor did he visit them at any festival then on. Her mother started a small tea stall and they made their living somehow. The tea stall was their necessity in the process of living and they have spent years on it.
"My daughter, you should now get married. A handsome young man has come from the army." When her mother told her this during our meal time I was speechless, and later asked, "Which one from the army are you talking about?"
"The same one who comes to drink tea everyday," her mother laughed.
My friend replied in a not too certain tone, "Mother, when I go away after getting married, you will be left all alone. I do not want to leave you all by yourself, perhaps I am unable to leave you that way."
Her mother became serious and said, "maybe after your marriage I will also find happiness. It is said that he has a good income in the army. He is quite an appropriate and handsome husband for you!"
I just smiled for her sake. I feel like laughing at words like army, earning, and appropriate. I naturally compare the man who wants to marry my friend with her father who has gone to war. Somehow both the faces coalesce into one and I feel as if it is jeering at me. If I have to tell the truth their faces are quite similar. But even, the word 'marriage' makes my friend shy and she turns sentimental and runs up to the roof.
The flowers, trees and small plants are dancing with the music of the wind. Everybody will appreciate me and say, "What a lovely flower, how pleasant! How charming !" Maybe, people will insert me into their hair and maybe others will compose poems seeing me.
From the roof of my home, the room of the military man can be seen. From his room where a dim lamp is burning, a continuous tune of violin is heard too.
I came to know that the man also sang, and I don't know why my mind tempts me to listen to his songs. And really, the man sang songs which sounded very sweet, indeed. When I listened to his songs, I felt like submitting myself to the music all through the night, just sitting down right there. Many pages of my life are blank and I felt like coloring the blank pages of my life while I listened to the tune of his songs.
Her mother told me early in the morning, "Look! that young man comes today, your friend has to give her decision. Your eyes look slightly red, maybe you went to bed last night quite late."
I try to evade her but in my ears reverberate the tunes of the same songs and somehow, somewhere, the man's face appears before me.
Three men came, including him. My friend comes out. The man smiles slowly and my friend feels uncomfortably embarrassed. Why was she feeling so weak and sentimental?
I try to remember my ideal, which includes a life which I wanted to live, and the unexpected struggle to achieve it.
Alas! after marriage, She will be in a bondage. That means she will have to live like a slave as she have to spend all her life in his charity.
Where will her ideals go?
Her desires will spill everywhere and she will be lost, unable to control herself within herself. Without any reason, somehow all of her hopes and imaginations that crowded inside her just a moment ago, are shattered to pieces. She feels like running far away from that man and reject him outright. She observes her mother deeply and find her smiling. The man is talking about something for the preparations of the wedding. She feels a rush inside and begins to breathe fast. I too experience a kind of freedom. Her mother enters inside with a sad face, "What happened to you all of a sudden, my sweetie?"
I started to cry and say, "Mother, she doesn't want to get married. Please do not force her. She wants to live freely. She does not want to re-live your life. She does not want an unsuccessful life."
Mother tries to pacify me, "She is a woman! She is not permitted to stay all her life with her mother. Look, she does not have to be afraid of anything. He has decided not to accept any monetary gift. And besides, these days it is extremely difficult to find a good man."
Again, a cold blast of wind enters through the window. There is a storm blowing and there is a flash of lightning within me and the heart is shrieking with a terrible situation. What should I or shouldn't I do for my friend?
I don't obey her but stay inside and slowly start to point her mother at the picture of her husband hanging on the wall. Mother goes on staring at me without blinking her eyes.
Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup associates and writes for http://www.mediaforfreedom.com/. She is specializes in in-depth reporting and writing on peace, anti-war, women, terrorism, democracy, and development. Some of her publications are: Women's Empowerment in South Asia, Nepal (booklets); Prevention of Trafficking in Women Through Media, (book); Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media Activism (media research). She has also written two collections of stories. Sarup's interests include international conflict resolution, cross-cultural communication, philosophy, feminism, political, socio-economic and literature. http://www.mediaforfreedom.com/