Whisky Words: Project (10)

This is Submission TEN of The Whiskey Words. The Whiskey Words is a writing project (and a giveaway), and if you’d like to participate, here are the rules.

I want to break free.

She walked with him on the beach.They rarely meet and this is one such rare day. She withheld her craving to hold his hand. It was a public place and they could not be seen like this. Just them together would bring up questions, unwanted questions… forget holding hands.
They have known each other for years, decades even. What started out as friendship became close friends and then something that shouldn’t have happened did happen just like that. By then he was married with two children and she was separated. Why did they cross that line when they did? He just claimed that he wanted to make her happy. She took that as a valid answer and left it at that. When you are best friends with someone you love and respect them, a lot of their flaws are pushed behind. Probably that is what she did too.
Why do we do the things we do? Nobody knows. There are reasons which are very valid, but others do not see it. Only we know and the reason however flimsy it might seem to others is very valid for us, at least at that moment.
As I said, they met rarely, maybe once in a few years. She still remembers meeting him for the first time. He sat across the room from her. Her eyes darted to him every few seconds as she was talking to the others but neither of them made an effort to talk to each other and not even the next time they met. Once they started talking though they spoke and spoke, sometimes all night long. They thanked Graham Bell for his invention which brought them so close together even though they were hundreds of miles apart. When you bare your heart and soul to someone, share all your secrets that nobody else knows then I guess the wall breaks. The wall here broke too.
The initial stage was fascinating, but it started to wear off soon. The topic now came back to sex irrespective of where it started and it starts to get boring beyond a point. Especially if you are used to discussing a whole lot of things about every single thing in the world. They also slowly they started feeling guilty. That was bound to happen too. She didn’t know how to articulate her feelings. He would show his guilt by avoiding her completely and give her no rhyme or reason for doing so. They were playing emotional hide and seek, only, in this case, he would hide away and then seek her when he wanted to. There would be phases of silences which would kill her. Anything she tried to break his wall would end up as a failure. She would go mad and then when she just gave up everything and started building her wall up again, this time only higher, he would come knocking again and break all her defenses.
Today she has been fighting with her own thoughts though. Something told her that she had to stop. She had started recognizing things that she hadn’t done before. She was sick and tired of the patriarchy. She could call him only when he wanted to talk to her yet he wanted her full attention when he spoke to her. She got replies to her messages only when he felt like talking to her. Even if she wanted to go back to just being good friends he said once the line was crossed it was difficult to go back. He told her how women could never get out of an affair because they have nothing else to do and their mind was not busy they kept thinking of the same thing over and over again. Today she had to decide.
He asked her if she wanted to cuddle up with him somewhere quiet. Amazingly she stopped walking, turned around to look at him in the eye and said “I don’t want to do it. Not now, not ever. I don’t want you to feel guilty and surely not because of me.” She had a wide grin, She was happy she could say it finally and felt so free just saying it. She looked at her watch and said “Time for my flight pal, have to head to the airport. bye” and walked away leaving him in the sunset. She felt happy to have had the courage to break the relationship which till now she thought was her lifeline.
Till now she had trusted him and he had let her down many times by not being there when she wanted, while she has ignored his faults and dropped everything to be with him when he wanted her. But today was the day to break free, to make that change forever.
Sometimes we do things which appear as though they do not have a reason, but there is a reason, a very valid reason. We get inner peace when we don’t let others control what we do anymore.
– Shyamala Sathiaseelan


Whisky Words: Project (7)

This is Submission SEVEN of The Whiskey Words. The Whiskey Words is a writing project (and a giveaway), and if you’d like to participate, here are the rules.


“You can do it!
I believe in you.
Of course it is difficult but we are with you. Call us any time!
Try till you succeed. That’s all that matters.
If you work hard, everything is possible.
I love you and I know how high you will fly after the course is over, son.”

Once, I was proud to say these encouraging words to my son. I was being a supportive parent who firmly believed that my conviction in his dreams and success will propel him.

Now, even writing these words is making me cringe with embarrassment.
I had every reason to have faith in him. He was one of the topper at school. He spoke six languages, including two foreign ones. He got into one of the top three colleges in the country and had a good academic record throughout. All this despite no parental pressure (since we have done well in life without fancy degrees) to excel at studies.

After graduation, he could’ve found a great job here but he was committed to learning as much as possible before joining the money-making bandwagon. So, fairly easily, he got into a university of his choice in the USA.

He called us regularly from there. He was excited to be a student abroad.

In a couple of months, I could sense the change in his enthusiasm levels. He had mentioned the academic pressure. Contrary to his expectations, he was hating the snowy cold weather. Additionally, missing his childhood friends, trying to integrate in a different culture and fitting in with students from all over the world was tough on my shy young boy. Whenever I felt he was down, I tried to lift him up and make him see that it is just the newness of it all, which is taking its toll on him.

One day he mentioned depression. We lectured him on how tough he was and he had parents like us, who’d support him in success and failure but he had to keep trying. A few days later, we got the call.

He’d hanged himself.

Within just six months, the people who called him joyful or an optimistic young man full of promise, started labeling him as a weak-willed quitter who must-have-never-been-good-enough! The harshest judgement often comes from the closest ones. But in our case, as his suicide made news in the USA and here, even strangers criticized him.

Of course, a lot of well-wishers offered understanding and meaningful condolences. But, nothing can stop the pain, which started replacing “me” in my soul. In my head, I hear my long departed mother’s voice, “A parent cannot afford to make mistakes. A tiny spark can set the jungle ablaze.”

The tiniest thing you do, has a multi-dimensional impact on your child’s psyche.
So my mind wanders to the past, searching for anything that may have triggered this response in him.
Is it because he was raised by day care employees while we both went to work? Is it because we discouraged him from being a singer when he was 11? Did we allow him to watch too much TV? Or because we never opposed his atheistic beliefs?

So many questions! I know that the guilt will not help and I’m being too hard on myself. I have googled coping tips for hours through the sleepless nights and even tried a few but I just can’t handle this. It’s been a long time but I still cry before bed; or if someone mentions him; or if I see young students laughing in a cafe.
May this be I passed on to him.. this inherent limitation of wavering in the face of problems.

Or may be, I was supposed to learn that however well you know somebody’s capabilities, do not undermine their difficulties.

Listen to them carefully. Be on their side instead of cheering them on the path they’ve come to hate.

Sometimes your loved one needs empathy and not motivation. They need love and probably, a break.

Not all sadness is depression but before deciding if someone is "just down" think, reflect, question, listen and then give an opinion. And yes, depression can happen to a person who seems perennially happy-go-lucky too.

Life goes on, with or without those you love. I will finally accept this someday. We know that he never meant to hurt his parents or make us feel guilty and end our lives along with his. So, I will do the last thing he can ever want from me now – learn to be myself again.

– Janvi Shah (blog)