Metro Diaries: Retirement
Saumya opened her eyes much before the alarm rang. Thirty five year old habit of getting up at 5 everyday had trained her mind like this. She did not need an alarm, but then old habits die hard. Just like every day she finished her morning chores and began driving towards her yoga class. With a thousand things running in her mind she seemed to be carrying a cobweb of thoughts along. 25th November it looked like any other day but then somewhere in the realms of her mind it stuck her it wasn’t. On this day thirty five years ago there had been a moment that had changed her life completely.
54 year old Saumya was like a typical middle aged woman simply dressed in a plain salwar kameez, she looked like someone who could easily get lost in the crowd completely unnoticed. Neatly parted hair, combed into a plait, peppered hair reflecting the years she had added to herself, wrinkled yet soft and tender hands with tinkling red bangles, a huge maroon bindi adorning her forehead along with a dash of vermillion in her parting. She displayed her marriage nonchalantly through that black beaded chain (mangal sutra) around her neck.
It had taken a moment for her to become like this. She had been like this for so long now she could hardly remember how she was earlier. That moment when this marriage tag was presented to her was the time it all changed, never to become normal again. It felt as it a huge tornado had stuck her life leaving nothing but debris for her; and today even after 35 years she had not been able to collect them completely. Saumya was more commonly known as Mrs. Pillai. Her own identity weighing down somewhere between those two words which now defined her. After that day she had ceased being Saumya anymore. Shankara Pillai her husband of 35 years was a government official on the verge of retirement.
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Retirement was something even Saumya was looking forward to. Not from her job but retirement from life. It might seem she wanted to die and become free from her worldly duties. For her the world or for that matter anything else had ceased to exist after that day. She wanted to retire from this marriage. A culmination which was long dead and yet the ghosts continued to haunt.
On her way, Saumya’s glance fell on a young couple standing under a tree. Hand in hand, they didn’t have eyes for anything else in this world. They were completely lost into each other’s eyes as the boy was narrating something which made the girl blush with a smile. Saumya smiled trying to imagine the sweet nothings that would have been whispered by the boy and tried to feel the jittery feeling the girl might be experiencing right now.
When was the last time she had felt like this; Saumya did not have an answer for she didn’t know what it felt like to be complimented. Receiving compliments had become a thing of the past just like those bundles of sarees lying in her cupboard. She never wore them anymore. In the beginning she missed them gradually she convinced herself that she was beyond them now and moved on forever.
Her sole aim was to complete her responsibilities of a dutiful wife and retire at the earliest. What would she do after that the retirement, well that is something she did not have an answer for. She liked to reason it that once the prisoner is freed that is when he is able to imagine things to be done for till then he does not know what freedom is. He has to experience it first to understand what to do. As of now retirement is what she was looking forward to with an anticipation that seemed to kill her every moment. And yet she continued to live on waiting for it.