One must get their education at the age of fifteen. One must get married by the age of twenty-two, have children by twenty-four and live the rest of their lives for them. My mother was a conformer. She lived all her life to please those around her, even when it wasn’t necessary. Such is and has always been the pathway of the Indian society.
My father was a good man. He proved to be a good son, then a good husband, and to me an unconditional support. The only problem was, he was raised in the stereotypes and he was inflexible. He wanted me to conform too.
Now, I am what most call a rebel at eighteen, an underachiever at twenty-two and a runaway at twenty-four. Let me clarify, the only thing I was an underachiever for was a rote-learned education, but you know how it goes. About the time I realised I had had enough of the Indian stereotypes, my mother did too. She had worked forty-six years of her life; first, working for her parents then her husband, then her unthankful children. So, on the night I decided to run away, she came to me and asked for a plane ticket to Nepal.
I was a writer, not a great one, but a writer nonetheless. I could’ve taken her with me had she wanted it but she had said something like, ‘I want to do something other than what I’ve been doing my whole life’, and what could I say to that? The desperation in her eyes was more than mine. The woman who always feared for me had I been out of her shelter later than 11pm on any day, the one who fed me with more love than anyone could possibly imagine, the one who feared for herself had she been left alone in her own home for more than one night, she wanted freedom. How could I deny her that? So I bought her a ticket. She could have afforded it herself with all the savings she had but this was me giving her a ladder to freedom. It was me giving courage to the one afraid. So she left; with her bank account and her closet, ready to be something other than herself.
It’s been five years since then. I’m experiencing life in remote parts of Egypt and writing about it. I’ve had three best-sellers so far and they are what keep me going. I’m quite proud of myself and yes, I still have no man on my arm. I received a postcard last week from her. She refuses to communicate electrically unless there’s an emergency. She says sending post cards makes her feel like she is on a forever vacation. She is in Bhutan right now, has been for a year.
Sent there by Japanese Buddhist association for women to ‘spread happiness’. I don’t exactly know how she got into this line of work, but her duties entail going to countries where there is a majority Buddhist community and just connecting with single/divorced women/mothers. She was born a Jain. She’s fifty one now, and to be honest in all my life I’ve only seen her so happy once and that was when my brother was born. She says she was equally elated when I was born but that’s a different story. She sends me pictures of her and her friends from all over the world. To be honest she supplies me the stories I sometimes need to build up strong female characters with formidable backgrounds. She spreads happiness. She says she feels like she is finally worth something more. She calls herself a ‘Late Bloomer.’