Since childhood, I had always been an awkwardly tall and thin girl, with an athletic physique. ‘Chicken legs’, ‘ManGirl’ were my second and third names. Like all parents who care and want to introduce their child to confidence and kindness, mine would go on to say, “You should hear it from the right ear and chuck it from the left”— as if that could ever work. ManGirl used to irk me to no end. How impudent? Who said that only men were allowed to have the physique of an athlete? I was tall and thin, and fast and proud.
Well, when I look back at those kids grown up, with their bellies popping out, I wonder who is clucking now!
I smiled to myself at this memory; I was on taxi ride to the other part of the city. One of my friends from childhood has become a mother a few weeks ago. We were in touch all through her pregnancy and I had decided to visit her after the baby arrived.
It was the most awesome slide down nostalgia. We stacked albums on albums, and photos on photos; we dug up the oldest of memories from our school and college days. The little slam books filled with the largest ambitions were the best. At one point of time both of us laughed ourselves to tears reading those. There was only one difference. Mine were tears of joy, hers not so much.
I paused, and let her cry it out. Initially, I tried to figure out the reason behind it, was she missing the freedom? Domestic issues? What was it? When she calmed down, she looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Gaining your heart’s desire is also a tragedy. After the happiness settles in, there is an emptiness and a question: What next?”
And then, she looked at her baby, as if to draw a connection. Emptiness? Did she mean that after the birth of her child, she felt physically empty? Because that does happen in several cases. But I had been friends with her for more than a decade now, I knew that if this was the reason, she would have consulted someone. She’s always been the diagnose and rectify type. We moved through the rest of our conversation swiftly, and I decided it was best to let her be. We hugged, and I left. On the ride back home I tried to wrap my mind around what she had said, a conversation from the first year of college played before my eyes.
“All I want to do is get married and have kids. That’s my ideal life.”, she had said. We were sitting in our college garden, and laughing about random things in life. I giggled along with her, thinking that she was quite sorted that way, knowing how she wanted her life to pan out.
Is that what she meant?
She was married, and had a child now.
Is their no excitement and happiness left? There is nothing to travel to now? Does everyone just get stuck after getting where they have always wanted to be? So you sweat and grind, day and night, to roll a giant rock up a hill and then, its there.
Or, is this just the chicken-talk? Is it really, only a matter how much you can dream? Not far, not high, just how much. Yes, destiny and fate will dent it up, but isn’t the shape of our eighty years truly decided by our imagination, or it’s lack thereof.
Maybe, while taking care of her child, she’ll reach for more again and build a baby-care blog . Maybe she’ll become an amazing cook and write her own recipes. Maybe she’ll have a restaurant of her own. Maybe her current monotony will give rise to things much more exciting.
My cab halted and I got off at the giant entrance of my training academy; I thought maybe, just maybe, she, and many like her, will decide to quit having space for more regrets in their lives.
Sketch By: Aurnaub Bose