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Search for My Other Self!
|by Prof. Dr. Jennifer Marie Bayer|
I Imagine! I am thirty five years living on this human habitation, still quite lost feeling my way through moments of my disturbed self. Its like the churning of the wide oceans out there and one never knows when and why its impact blazes new life.
At this point in time I am desperately in search of a partner in life. And believe me it has been a horrendous hurdle all through. My nervous anxiety is seen in my movement and body language. I hope you will appreciate after you read my quest for the eluded within quote ‘happiness’.
Are you smiling? Me too!
I grew up in the midst of many of brothers and sisters, in a similar state, whose parents either deserted us or one parent died and the other was too lost to take on the responsibility to nurture us. They thought that deserting us was the end of the game, but did not realize that no matter who looked after us, we could not address them as “amma” or “appa”. Many times in our silent selves we would wonder, if our parents were around somewhere, why did they deny us the privilege of ‘parents’?
We have no answer, nor can anyone justify their absence. We suffer in silence, and are reflected in our personalities.
Each one of us is a quirk is some way or the other. We did overhear silent talk among the cooks and clerks that most of us were born out of wedlock. We could not fathom what it meant at that time, but we do now. All of us looked up to this silvery haired Doctor Amma, who decided to nurture us because our dear mothers, for reasons known only to them, left us on the verandah of her nursing home where we were born, for want of resources to see us beyond giving birth to us! Hoping against hope, I am sure, for all mothers are mothers, Doctor Amma would mould us into healthy individuals. What a selfish decision! And I am sure they did what they did under circumstances that led them to.
Doctor Amma, I am sure, tried her best to save me from death, and in her subconscious dreamt a life for me. Coming to think of those moments in her life, when in the midst of a mountain high of responsibility, her dream was to evolve the sapling in me, and I am sure, each time, would peel of the dried petal of the flower in me and reach out to blossom me to a healthy individual.
I am thirty five years past time of my first breath. My poor Amma! I wish you thought twice before surrendering me, for I am sure I would have not have disappointed you. I could have been your most obedient son. You could have explained to me and I could have empathized with your suffering and pain. You could have given me the opportunity to look after you in your last days. How can I explain to you my bleeding heart?! And if what is said that you are out there hovering over my being, lead me to my partner, if I am destined to have one. March 2012
Growing up in the children’s’ home, on hindsight, built us as individuals we chose to be, in spite of support in all spheres of life, pouring in on us. Nurtured with our caring housemother our routine was like any other child with parents, even middle class comforts. Food! tasty and sumptuous, clothes donated by generous public, sometimes good used clothes and sometimes brand new clothes, school sometimes a temptation to skip, and the best part playing was a joy.
Let me tell you, each one of us lived in two worlds, the one we are in and one we wish we could have been in. You know something, we had everything, even a child in a hut did not enjoy. But we did feel jealous of the child in the hut. He had his ‘amma’ and ‘appa’. I for one felt sad in my inner self that I had no parents to call ‘amma’ and ‘appa’. Watching other children play tantrums with their parents pierced my heart, I could feel the pain. I could not be talk about this in my other world because I had no one to talk to. Having not seen either my parents, I would stand in front of the large size mirror on the wall and ask myself, do I look like my mother or father? I noticed I felt comforted when my answer was I look like my mother.
School leaving was what I yearned for. I found it tough to value science and maths. Had I listened keenly and remembered the formulae the subjects would have been easy to scrape through. But my span of attention was quite low, my eyes was always darting and my scattered mind wandering beyond the class, my stretch of imagination watching those on the road to and from school, riding scooters and driving cars, was to drive one of these machines some time some day, maybe a car, why not a bus? Or an airplane? Mind you all this dreaming and imagining never kindled me to seriously study. The rule in school was no child should fail and repeat the class, which is not a good idea, as I took it for granted that this is the system through school and college.
All my dreams were in vain for I did not complete my school final. My dreams of dreaming big in actuality, having left school twenty years ago, led me to owning a mere bicycle!! At least a bicycle, I did earn from scratch, you must appreciate. Does the phrase ‘what a jerk!’ come to your mind dear reader?
Life after school was a challenge, especially having failed my school final exam. For several years after I was on my own. Having left Children’s Home, I worked doing odd jobs, and built up a wide network of friends. We enjoyed each other’s company. One thing we neglected. Improper and irregular food and lack of good sleep took toll on my health. The few years when I was on my own, I often bumped into my childhood nurturers. They genuinely care for me, from the concern they showed with questions about my job, my health and my life. I lied most often. And they knew I did.
When I was ill with Tuberculosis I returned home for support. They willingly took over and ensured that I regain my health. I was also employed by them. I still did not learn to be honest.
I was to carry cooked food from the children’s home each day to feed the lone elder resident at the newly started Home for the destitute elderly. The food would be nicely packed with milk and fruits. The old man would wait to hear my cycle bell ring. I however, would stop by at a home, whose husband had gone to work and kids to school. To woo her I would share the old man’s food with her which she looked forward to thrice a day. We got friendly sharing our joys and sorrows and she on her part would serve me my favorite meaty stuff. Wow! I was having a hell of a time. Till one fine day, I was caught red-handed. I lost my job, the good food and all hell was let loose once again.
I left the sheltered life of my alma mater. I began to pick up strings that lay knotted. In untying the knots I sailed into company that led me to arrange village festivals, grassroot political meets, and other such social happenings. The Tuberculosis re-appeared. I went back to the children’s home for sustenance. I was re-invited with open arms, given shelter in the home for the destitute elderly. This is my third phase in my life. April 2012
I worked in the Home for the elderly. Taking residents to the hospital was most enjoyable for I have this innate knack to convince Doctors and medical staff to attend on our patient immediately. I also enjoyed doing other jobs, like painting doors and walls, climbing roofs and trees for odd small fixing. One lucky day, a specially-abled beauty arrived to stay at the Ashram to continue her studies. She stung me. I fell head over heals in love with her. She needed help in moving around the Ashram and I willingly volunteered help. My ardent prayers seem to have been answered. I began buying her small trinkets, chocolates, brought in CDs of her choice and I thought that my love was kind of returned from her body language, her voice, her sweet talk.
It turned out my reading was wrong. She returned to the home from where she came. We kept in touch with each other for several months. All the time I was given the impression that one day we will be man and wife. That I would have the pleasure of moving her around and showing the world how humane I am, however, in a few months time she said she was calling from Tumkur and that she was happily married.
What a shock! I could not believe this could happen to me, although I have seen this happen in the many films I watched. Crest fallen I continued to see her in the shop assistants, nursing community, girls offering arati in the temple. I was nuts. Anxious all the time, I would commit silly mistakes, race across streets and main roads, sprain a muscle, break a bone, tell lies and get away with all this, just because all elders around me are the same ones I grew up with, so humane and their concern often irritated me.
An unwed mother in her early teens arrived to stay with us until delivery time. Here was another chance for me. Who cares if she went through the trauma she went through. Pretty and nubile sorrow on her face made her more pretty, I was smitten again. I found my way to her heart, through my prayers, little presents, and chocolates aplenty. She really encouraged me. She looked forward to someone to talk to, a brotherly touch, I declined to admit, for I really fell in love with her. We would find space for ourselves, while the elders were in their own world of joy, sorrow, pathos, for after all what will one expect these elders to do after their own children showed them the door.
Poor souls! After dinner, most were happy to be here, whereas some could not accept their fate, after the eventful life they had, till the time the little property they amassed they signed off to their favorite child, who even now they cannot believe what they did would turn them out of their own home.
Sadly, after she delivered her child, a few weeks of convalescing, she was shifted to the home for these kinds of asocial cases. I used to call that home and ask to talk to her, but was always refused. I had to stop, for a complaint was made with the home I stayed in. Crushed to the core, depressed to the hilt, I silently endured the feeling of listless anxiety. I found succor in my new job of assisting an elder senior citizen, in his early nineties. I got to travel with him and his family to different places. I had to dress smartly, keeping their standards of living. I even had the chance to air travel to Delhi. What a chance blessing, I thought. The deep core feeling of not finding a woman to love me kept chastising me.
I also worked in the children’s’ home doing jobs like gardening, digging earth to level the ground, construction work, petty shopping and the like. The roving eye in me just could not keep my emotions at bay. My eyes fell on one girl. I would wait outside home each morning and evening to catch a glance of her. She knew this and would also look out for me, and then shy away and turn towards her sisters as if she never eyed me. It turned out that my friend was kind of infatuated with her friend and every morning waited at the end of the road to walk her to school, this in spite of the instruction that they walk to school as a group, twenty plus girls and boys. I took this as a great chance to follow suit. So we two would wait for our girls and each day walk them to school. We carried chocolates in our pockets and would slyly pass them on.
The other girls carried our tale to the elders. I was admonished. I denied this. My friend I learned had been doing this over the years and the police even warned him to keep away from girls from the Home. During my time I walked my girl to school, I had proposed to her and told her that I would wait till she turns eighteen, when I will approach the elders to take her hand as my wife. She kind of got a little too close to me that I felt she too was in love with me!
Early in February this year (2012) the girls for reasons unknown to me, I learned later that they disobeyed elders in the Home, were given a talking to, for which they thought it right to run away. That morning I was late in catching up with her, and therefore, rode my bicycle in my usual mad way, in search for the group. And lo and behold! In the middle of the road, from a distance, I noticed an auto, the two girl getting in, and the little girls crying out, (Akka, Odhog bEda) sister do not run away.
My heart skipped beats as I raced towards the auto, pulled out the bag of my girl, while the other too got off, as the driver knew she did not have the money to pay him. While she was determined to fulfill her stance that she runs away, in this melee I heard her ask her boy for hundred rupees. He backed out sighting the police will be after him as he was not interested in running away with her. My mind worked very fast. I took my girl’s bag and left in my friend’s house. I gave a coin and advised to call home and inform of her sister’s running away. I told her to return home and if questioned feign sickness.
I immediately received a call from our dear Manager advising me to go in search of the girl on the run. I swallowed deep, did not inform her that I was on the scene, and promised to search for the girl in the railway station. Ten minutes later I called the Manager, pretended I was on the railway station, that I searched everywhere, and even informed the police of the missing girl, and told her that I would search the bus stand, all the time knowing that I was wantonly hiding facts, so as to save my face.
My unrequited affairs are like my shadow following me. And here was I hiding facts at the risk of a girl’s future, for if she is found, her physicality will be tact, whereas if she stupidly runs away with no point to reach she will be exploited by the eagle eyed males in search of such an opportunity. I did feel a guilt pang through my being but I went on the with pretension that I was looking. Whereas in fact our Manager went straight to the railway station and found her requesting a woman to give her money to buy herself a ticket, just realize she was alert enough not to be booked a ticketless traveler. She was brought home and allowed to introspect. I of course continued to deny till I realized I was cornered to the hilt in so far as my friend’s clothes was concerned.
I was ostracized, ignored, and I felt the hurt. In spite of this I pursued my girl in the home. As humane as are my elders, their search for a bride has been going on for over two years now. The major obstacle in my case is that my ‘caste’ is unknown. When I was deserted on the hall way of the nursing home my caste id disappeared into thin air. So even though there were extremely poor, parents looking for a chance to palm off their daughter to a prospective bridegroom, caste was the foremost hindrance.
Then a widow with her two year girl child appeared on the scene. She wanted her child to be cared for in the home. As was the nature of our elders her life story was found to be out of the ordinary. She was willing to enter into a second married life provided the man accepts her child. No man was willing I am told. Bright ideas seem to emerge in solvable situations, and so my the never ending circumstances of my looking for a bride and never finding one, seemed in fall in a maze.
Why cannot you choose her as your bride and accept her child as yours was the question put forth to me? Knowing my elders I quickly conceded. I was introduced her, liked her, accepted her suggestion that we take care of her child, which will also be mine when we married. I returned to inform everyone my joy of getting married. Most were overjoyed. One of them sat me down with advice that I reconsider this arrangement, for after all she was first tasted by another man, which deprives him of the first night for both of them. This cut them through and through.
In desperate anxiety I had to recoil my acceptance. Once again my elders counseled me. I realized I will make two hearts happy. What if she has been ‘tasted’ by her first husband? Poor man he died two months soon after their marriage.
His family sent her back to the Government system from where they took in marriage to their son. She returned in sorrow but felt blest with his child. And it is now my turn to care for both of them, which I will till my last breath. In the midst of Authority, it often happens that my sense of proportion gets blurred and I cave in. And when I am on my own, introspecting, a bright idea inspired me to call one of my sister’s husband miles away. I have this sweet talk way of entering a conversation. I bravely requested him to take care of a girl I love for five years till she turns eighteen, at which time I will marry her. Surprised as he was my request was denied.
Courage dawned and I decided to walk the path chalked out by my elders. We were married in the Sri Mahaganapathi Temple, in the presence of our elders, sisters, brothers, friends and well wishers.
Too cool to be true! So dear reader isn’t my story a live drama, enacted over time, devoid of a writer, director and producer? You could christen me a ‘hero’, a ‘foolish villain’ or a force blown by the wind!! I feel fulfilled.
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