5.30 a.m. I wake up with a start. Groggily I reach out for my phone and hastily check Skype to see if there are any messages from Brian – my long distance partner of two decades who I have never met. Yes, you heard me right. Ours is one of those stories most people find it difficult to believe. We had met online in 2004. And it was love at first chat and have never looked back ever since. Strangely enough, he is more real to me than the people I interact with every day. So I can safely conclude that in this age of changing partners like clothes, we are still going strong.
Usually I wake up to an avalanche of hugs and kisses, links to interesting YouTube videos or peculiarly interesting narratives of his everyday life. But today my phone hasn’t even beeped once. There isn’t a single message. Why? You may ask. The reason may lie in a small argument that spiraled out of control. Yesterday, I expressed my ignorance on a certain topic and he laughingly pointed out that if I explored the world more, I would know. Snarky he can be, but he is usually sensitive to my feelings. Being a student of Literature, I do read between and at times beyond lines. And I was offended. Because I felt he was mocking my complete lack of interest in anything that doesn’t concern me. I thought that he was being patronizing as I was an Indian woman. Did I forget to mention that he is an American? Anyway, he hasn’t messaged. Well, if he doesn’t want to, I won’t either. Two can play at this game.
I am not really sulking. I just feel bad. Pushing my hurt feelings away, I drag myself out of my bed only to find my pet bunny jumping around in his cage. He has dirtied his cage and wants to be let out. Before the animal lovers are up in arms against me, let me mention that my bunny is allowed to free-roam in the mornings. He is caged only for a short time in the nights. Muttering under my breath, I clean his entire cage, his area and feed him.
By the time I am done, I am breathless. Every chore leaves me exhausted. Because three years ago, my kidneys failed and I have been on dialysis ever since. I come from a dysfunctional family and have suffered immensely on account of my horrible father’s alcoholism. The trauma endured had left the demon called rage in me which took the form of very high blood pressure that remained unmonitored damaging my kidneys in the bargain. Before you feel sorry for me, let me tell you that I have fought back and have managed to come back to life, and I do lead an almost normal life.
Now it’s 6.30 a.m. Time to go downstairs and get a packet of milk from the nearby store. It takes me ten minutes to do that. After a cup of strong ginger tea, I again check my phone. But as luck would have it, still no messages. Slowly and sadly, I drag myself to the bathroom and cry my heart out. I cannot cry in front of my old mother because it will affect her tremendously. Now let me tell you something about my mother. A source of unconditional love, she raised me single-handedly, enduring the torture and abuse of our tormentor – the poor excuse of a man who I have to call father. If I have been able to bounce back to life, my mother’s love and strength is responsible for that. Mom can endure anything but she cannot bear to see me crying. Self-centred as I maybe, I try to spare her that pain at least.
After my bath, mom makes me some breakfast which I consume with great relish. After that, I prepare my notes for my classes. I don't think I have told you that I work as a private tutor, right? Before that, I used to work as a teacher of English in one of the international schools in the city. I was and am quite passionate about what I do. I am considered one of the best teachers here. Though I had a problem with authority, I thrived in my profession. And in the winter of 2016, tragedy struck and I was diagnosed with kidney failure. It was then I experienced the other side of human life. The sympathy that was doled out to me was horrendous. Still I kept working and when I couldn’t endure it anymore, I resigned. Though it was risky, the decision proved to be the right one.
It’s 10.30 a.m. now. Students arrive and I spend some time discussing the nuances of certain words, for instance, empowerment and liminal space. It turns out to be quite interesting. How I wish I could record my sessions and upload them online! But I do nothing about it. I am quite camera shy and get quite conscious once the camera is on. Maybe one of these days, with the help of my students, I will do something about it. Anyway, I give my students a writing task and remind them that they need to work with total engagement and involvement. A lesson I have learnt very well and follow myself. A lesson reinforced by Sadhguru’s YouTube videos which were heaven-sent in my most difficult times. Not only did they raise me from the pall of depression that had descended on me since my illness but also instilled in me a desire to better myself. Ever since I have made a positive effort to count my blessings and to take every day as it comes.
I check my phone. I am thoroughly disappointed that there are no messages. Is this it? Is he finally fed up of me and have called it quits? Have I been too pushy and demanding lately? No. He cannot do that to me. He will be back. Reassuring myself thus, I proceed to take my lunch. But mom hadn’t made anything. So I take my phone out and order some South Indian food. It will take at least half an hour for the food to be delivered. I lie on my bed and start contemplating about my life. And I am attacked by a bout of self-pity. I curse my abusive father. I still hold him responsible for everything in my life. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive him. I know I need to do that for my own healing. But I am not ready for it. At least not today.
I don’t realize when I drift into sleep. By the time, I am up it’s 4.30 p.m. Again I check my phone. All quiet on the western front. Will he never message? I miss him dreadfully. I know I can message him and end this torture. But I have always been stubborn. I want him to message first. I want to see if he misses me or not. I have to know. And there is also the question of ego. Who will cave first? Well, not me. Deep down, I want to talk to him badly. But I control this urge and try to drown my sorrows in a cup of ginger tea. Yes, a cup of stimulating tea is my answer to everything.
It’s 6.30 p.m. I stand in my balcony and admire the orange sky with swirls of red. The scene is straight out of an artist’s canvas. Enthralling and breathtaking! I lose myself in its natural beauty. Boy, it’s rightly said that the best things in life are free. But are we thankful for these gifts? No. Instead we waste precious moments craving for things we don’t have. Immediately, I become aware of my own stupidity. What the hell am I doing? Instantly I send a prayer up in gratitude and ask for forgiveness for not being able to see how blessed I am. I realize my foolishness in holding onto my ego. I reach out for my phone and type out a hello to Brian. Life is too short to be wasted in misery. Life is too short to be wasted hanging on to your ego problems. Life is too short to be holding grudges.
As I am mulling over these thoughts, suddenly I hear my phone beep. Absentmindedly, I pick up my phone and to my delight, I have a message from him. He says, ‘How have you been? I missed you.’ I grin and type back that I miss him too. Needless to say, everything is alright with my world now. Everything is fine now. I am at peace again. And I come back to my room, open my laptop, start typing out this narrative which I complete in one sitting. And with a small sense of achievement and a huge smile on my face, I go back to bed, more peaceful, more serene and more tranquil than before. Good night, everyone!