Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hardening

After spending close to six months with us, my mother returned home to India a couple of days ago. J burst into tears watching her disappear into security check-in. Until the last minute she had been denial of a separation we had been preparing her for months. Then grandma just vanished from sight and it was time for us to drive back to our home - the apartment that has played the role of "home" for a few years now but never quite become one.

It is not the little cottage J dreams about with a front porch and a swing in the yard. That dream I have told her will come true soon but never said when. Children don't deal well with inexactitude. Grandma was able to make the place so close to home, that J was glad to return it each day.

So she cried in fits and bursts on our way home. I tried to cheer her up the best I could. It was a few hours of driving, in horrible traffic with pouring rain and darkness for company along with a melancholy child in the back seat. She asked me "Don't you love your mother ? Don't you feel sad she's gone ?" She had clearly seen no evidence of sadness in me.

I had to stay strong so I could support J, I had to bring us home safe, tuck her for the night and prepare for the next day. I wondered if I had the right to sadness and even if I did if I had the privilege to indulge in it. It has been this way for years now - when the time comes to shed a few tears, my many responsibilities get in the way. Then the moment passes, the pain of many uncried tears lingers on somewhere in the heart, but the urgency to cry has gone.

Someday, I tell myself when the din of the daily grind dies down, when things are moving a little slower, when there is some quiet time, those tears will come. I can like J cry my heart out too and then move on in peace. Instead, the din grows louder and more urgent. In my day, the quiet spaces are all filled by the never ending stream of to-dos. The tears dry away for good. I move on too - unlike those who are able to be vulnerable, able to cry when they must and therefore have about them a certain gentleness of spirit, I am hardened.

5 comments:

ggop said...

It is touching to see J's attachment to her grandmother.
I've come across some bratty kids who asked me if "I spoke funny" like their grandparents.

Priyamvada_K said...

:( Sad to read J's response, and sadder to read her mother's.

Letting loose and crying can also be a luxury...Take good care of yourself, and watch out for grief's cousins when you can't vent it through tears: anger and rage. If you find yourself becoming angry/irritable, take an hour for yourself after J goes to bed, and cry. It really helps. The peace this brings cannot be described.

Priya.

Anonymous said...

Hi there
I landed up on your blog through a DesiPundit link and your posts had me hooked for the better part of the day. Some of our posts, especially the ones in marriage, relationships and divorce, resonated deep within me. I am going through a mini crisis of sorts in my marriage right now and your posts have clarified a lot of things for in my head. Thanks for sharing.
S

samudrika said...

When I was a kid, my mother was always the strong one. She never cried even through all the situations that seemed awful.

Sometimes you need someone not to cry to make you feel that things are not as bad as they seem. They make you hold on even though you may be breaking up inside.

Now as an adult when things seem beyond my control, I think of my mother, her face, tearless, determined to see yet another situation through and I don't cry.

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - I have heard that too from desi kids in the US - poking fun at the accent of their FOB parents and grand-parents. It does impair the bond of love that exists between grandkids and grandparents...

Priya - I hear you. I long for the peace that having cried you pent up tears brings. Unfortunately, mine seem to have all dried up. I have none left to cry.

Anon - Thanks for stopping by. Glad to know that my blog helped you make sense of your own relationship. A small crisis in marriage can be the thing that forges a stronger bond between the two. So I wish you luck and much happiness. This too shall pass as they say :)

Samudrika - Thanks for stopping by. Isn't it amazing how we all admire our mothers (or fathers) for being strong ? The rock of the family ? When you become the parent yourself and are forced by circumstance to be the rock you realize that they might have had reasons beyond their control to be who they were. Maybe they would have rather not been so strong.