We are surrounded by ‘things’; tangible and intangible,things which we attach value to,things we cherish and things which are just there,everpresent.There is a tarpaulin of sentiments which covers us .and these palpable ,corporeal ‘things’ become a part of it and we stay together under the tarpaulin.It is when we start associating with these objects that the abstract and the definite merge together.These objects maybe a piece of jewellery passed down from generation to generation or it may be one of the banal,day to day items of our life like a pair of slippers we don’t want to part with or a banyan tree which has been there for ages,under whose shade I played inane games,and my grandmother used to put her chair there in the evening and look at the passers by.If anyone were to cut that tree,it would have pained me because that tree had been my companion since my childhood.Often I feel a sense of exuberance on finding some long lost object drowned in the sea of my wadrobe or lost in the labyrinth of my study.I feel an immediate consortium with that object.Maybe it becomes a part of my identity(not a significant part but still a part).Maybe I am childish,unable to detach myself from such trivialities.But sometimes these trivial objects makes one realise where does one stand.
An incident which happened to my mother triggered me to write this piece.I will digress no further and will begin with my story.Usha(I won’t call her my mother or Mrs. T because there is more to her identity than being a mother and a wife) owned a pair of green slippers.A very down to earth,middle class pair.Nothing remarkable about its make.After being used for a considerable period of time ,the slipper gave up on her on a rainy day in a market near her residence.Usha left them in the market place,on the crossroads and came back home barefooted.Everyday she would go out to buy vegetables or grocery and she would see her slippers lying in the mud. The sight of her slippers broken and muddy would make her heart heavy.She was unable to make sense of her feelings.Why did she feel such pangs of despondency?One day she comes to me and cries. “The slippers are gone”,she says.It is then that she realised the significance of the green slippers.It symbolised her life.The slippers-dejected, desolate,broken,splintered,perforated,used,performing performing its duties till its exhausted.Similar is her life which is spent in fulfilling duties,keeping up appearances,fitting in the roles enthrusted upon her.A woman who is so tired after the day’s work that she can’t read her favourite books.They lie on the table licking dust.She has no time to get dressed up,drape herself in a saree and go out and relax.Her clothes are comfortable and no nonsensical.She prefers dark colored sarees so that even if they get oil stains,it would’t show.She hardly does anything which pampers her senses and enriches her life.Her life has become a monotonous cycle of getting up early in the morning,fulfilling her duties throughout the day and then dropping dead in bed at night.Her husband goes to work in the day,her children have gone to far away places to brighten their future.She calls her daughter once everyday,dying to talk to her and share something(these are the strings she holds on to).but sometimes even her daughter snaps on her.
Alone ,like the slippers,and finally gone without leaving an imprint on anyone apart from her flesh and blood;like the slippers,whose loss won’t effect anyone but its owner.I think this is what Usha feared.These insecurities and fears came out in the form of tears.what she dreaded was maybe the loss of her identity.A thought which had never occurred to her before.Maybe because she didn’t have the time to think.
Her tears didn’t convey this message to me then.But now thy do.Maybe because now I understand,if not fully then partially, what being a woman is.I want to prove her insecurities wrong.I carry a piece of her with me and this piece I will pass on to my child.She is my fountainhead,my stimulus. Usha will never vanish.