Winter In The Heart

dark path

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Silence screams into the ears

As she walks down the path of her heart.

She sees old, long-forgotten dreams,

Dreams that lie shattered along the way,

Each jagged piece cutting into the ground

That is her heart.

 

She hasn’t visited this place in years

Each emotion that passes by in the winds

Brings with it a feeling of déjà-vu.

And yet, all emotions feel new,

Strangers pulling at the strings

Of her heart.

 

She comes to a ruined mansion.

Regret dwells here,

Housing the damaged rooms,

The empty, cobwebbed corridors.

Fear is nearly a permanent house guest

He comes accompanied by Grief.

 

Hope had once lived here,

When each room was all light,

When each window was open wide

To ideas, opportunities, love.

Sunshine rained in the backyard,

Fleecy clouds shone across the blue sky.

 

The sun does not shine here anymore,

The healing rains do not shower.

No ideas flower in the window boxes,

No love grows in the garden.

No light enters the mansion;

It is a perpetual night.

 

Occasionally, a flame flickers,

In one corner of the highest tower

Reminding the walls of what once was.

The candle bearing the light

Had once belonged to Hope.

It has now melted down to a stub.

 

Tonight she sees it flicker again.

She looks on bleakly, not daring to believe.

Her heart is all void,

All covered by a blanket of wintry snow.

Courage comes and stands by her

Hoping against hope.

 

The flame wavers about in the winds

Now gaining strength, now losing it,

Love too looks out her hiding place;

She hasn’t seen Hope struggle in so long.

A star or two watch down, disinterestedly;

They have seen all Hope’s attempts.

 

Regret wakes up suddenly now

He creeps up the staircase slowly.

The door creaks open, bringing Fear with it.

Regret opens its dark wings.

The flame extinguishes in its wake

And all is dark again.

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Not Being Able To See

In A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson, there is a scene, where the protagonist, Ellen is being interviewed by the principal of the boarding school where she has applied to be a housemother. At one point, he asks her what she fears. And she replies, “Not being able to see.”

Being blind isn’t what she meant. She meant being limited by something (prejudice, love) to be able to gain a clear perspective on a situation. Basically, she meant that she was afraid of being ruled by own emotions, her own fixed ideologies.

I’m sure that many of us struggle with this. There has been a time period in my life when I was so consumed by what was supposed to be, that I failed to see what actually was. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had problems with perfection. It was particularly bad during this period. I had such a clear vision of a Plan, that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) accommodate any curve balls. Admitting to myself that I tried something and failed isn’t easy for me. It’s not about other people; I don’t accept my own failures with an open mind. And this is the reason why I could only see my so-called “failures” instead of what I had actually achieved.

Today when I look back at that time, I realise that the situation wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t like my life was doomed if just one single thing went wrong. My plans weren’t that off-the-track that I couldn’t redeem. I know now, that I could have avoided a lot of pain, tears, irrational fears, had I been able to see.

Today has been one of those days. You know, when nothing seems to be going right. When your judgement is addled by mood swings. When your own view becomes so myopic  that everything seems a disaster. I was agonizing for half a day about what was going wrong with absolutely everything. For the major part of the day, I could only see the flaws.

And then I stopped. I decided to let life happen, in its own way.

It’s so easy to become lost in the perfect picture of the future. I’ve mentioned before that I make a conscious effort at trying to be in the present. It still doesn’t come that naturally. But I try.

I fear it too; not being able to see. Because I know what that kind of narrow-minded worry can do to me. Instead, I try to let out the steam; cool off, call up my mother and rant about people and things that she barely knows. But I try not to let that anxiety sit in my heart. It’s better to be annoying to others for a little while than harm yourself with worry. People who are close always understand.

Grief

It was her decision to abort the child. Her own. No one asked her to. No one advised her to.

Her husband wanted her to abort. He knew the pregnancy was dangerous. He knew he loved her too much to risk losing her. And yet, when she had told him her decision, there was…something. Surprise, a mild shock, or was it disgust? Did he want her to beg and cry to keep the child? Did he want to be that voice of reason in the midst of unreasonable maternal instinct? Did he want to prove that he loved her but he considered the fact that she loved herself to be unwomanly?

She saw these emotions passing through his face, but the final one was relief. She was relieved herself to find that emotion on his face. Relieved to know that despite all, he loved her.

The doctor came in then. He nodded when they told him, his eyes all the while on her husband. He was the one who must have convinced her, of course. He waited politely for her to shed a few tears, which she did. But the doctor looked on quizzically. She was in physical and emotional pain, no doubt. But she seemed composed when she signed the papers. No hysteria, no drama, no refusal, no changing the mind at the last moment. Perhaps she was in denial; this was all a bad dream.

 

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She felt every movement, everything that was being done to her. For all her years to come, she would be able to remember exactly what was done to tear her baby apart from her. Her husband said all the right things, did all the right things, and still, she felt he wanted to detach himself from it all. His comforting her felt slightly cold, his demeanour slightly icy.

The following few months were painful; the words and the sympathy felt forced. She wondered whether he blamed her for losing the child. She wondered if their families thought so too. His mother resolutely accepted when they told her, but she kept waiting for her daughter-in-law to break, to reproach him for making her do this.

“Maybe it’s all for the best. She isn’t…well, it’s difficult for women nowadays to appreciate the love for a child…” her mother-in-law broke off when she saw her standing at the doorway. She had been stricken by the words. Was she really not loving enough to be a mother? Did people imagine it was easy for her to let go of her child?

If she had wanted to risk her own life for the child, would that have made her a good mother? Wasn’t “sacrifice” the accepted standard for the society for being a good mother? Wanting to live, wanting to try again for a child, wanting a healthy pregnancy, wanting to be able to see her child alive and happy; this was perhaps, too selfish.

“I want to try again,” she told her husband one day. “We should see a doctor about the complications.”

He agreed, if only to make her happy.

“Do you think I’ll be a good mother?”, she asked him, five months into her pregnancy.

He nodded, smiling slightly, before turning away.

He didn’t ask whether she thought he would be a good father. Neither did his parents, who were very supportive of him when he wanted her to terminate the first pregnancy.

The girl was born healthy and on time. The family rejoiced. She was the perfect baby.

“Do you think I am a good mother?” she asked again when Tanya was a feisty seven-year-old.

He hugged her impulsively and tightly. She caught the words I’m sorry… breathed into her ear.

She grieved again, after all these years; this time, only for her lost child.