Saturday, July 02, 2011

Mirror Image

DB and I were waiting our turn at the counter when I saw this woman and her child. Almost reading my thoughts, DB said "That must have been how J and you were before we met". Her stress level was perceptible, the child (about J's age) looked completely worn out. The two seemed to be surrounded in an orb of anxiety. She spoke breathlessly to the customer service agent - trying to explain why it would be impossible for her to come back another time to complete whatever business she had. I could relate. There was a full-time job, raising a child, possibly no support or vacation time. This was the only window of opportunity to complete the task.

After some back and forth, she gave up, grabbed her paperwork and the child's hand and rushed out. In her face, her body language and in how she interacted with the woman at the counter, I saw myself as I was for ten years. No one had held up a mirror to me and shown me how odd I appeared to the world at large. I repeated myself often, fearing that I would not be heard or understood. I assumed the victim position in most transactions and came out of them feeling like one. 

Like me, this woman (she would be about my age) was a desi abroad who may have valued freedom to live without social isolation over having immediate family around and a familiar cultural milieu to raise her child. She had traveled eight hours to make this appointment with a young child in tow. If there was a partner, they were not present in her life in a way that eased her troubles, more likely than not - there was not a partner. I did not find myself feeling sorry for her - it was not often that I felt sorry for myself when I was in her shoes. I could tell she had the strength and the confidence it took to overcome. There would be battle-scars that would like years to fade but she would not succumb to her circumstances.  
In time, she would gain tranquility, she would smile more, relax in her interactions with the world. In time, the tide would turn and she would have the companion that could be there for her when it counted. Seeing myself as I had been heightened my appreciation for what I have in my life. 

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