It is that wretched day again. Every year it would knock shamelessly on my door ready to tear my insides apart. I look at the blaring alarm clock with the intention of smashing it against the wall. It is time to get up, though right now it's the last thing I want to do. Eventually, I gather myself and get ready for the day, preparing mentally to keep up a fake smile all along while all I want to do is to lock myself up and cry.
I cry a lot. My mother used to say that people who do this have the cleanest of hearts. I believed it to be true until I went out and found out that people call it over-sensitivity.
That’s what he used to do. He would always point out how ridiculously sensitive I was. Maybe that was one of the reasons he left me? No. I know the exact reason of him leaving me, not because I understood him or anything, but because he was very clear in words about it, “You cannot give me the one thing that I want. If we cannot keep each other happy what is the point of being together anyway? Instead of smothering each other with our choking presence let’s move apart and let ourselves breathe.” He wanted to breathe and I was the tinge of poisonous smoke looming in the air, stopping him from doing that.
It is depressing, you know? The fact of not being enough for someone. It eats you up from inside leaving you in pieces. You’re never complete again but fragments of a person you used to be once. It makes you question your existence, it makes you believe you won’t be able to be enough for anyone ever, not even yourself. But my case is different. I actually am incomplete, almost inhuman and the thought of it haunts me day and night. It rings into my head until I am ready to explode and this awful day makes it worse.
With this continuous, deafening ringing, I head out for work, already dreading the day ahead. It is ironical, me working as a teacher at a primary school, almost amusing. On the less painful days it makes me laugh, but not today. Today, it makes the pain even worse to bear. I convince myself that it’s just 6 hours of ordeal after which I can come back to my dark gloomy place and cry as much as I want. That mirage of shedding tears can help me drag through this day.
As I reach the school I can see it decorated with all sorts of colours, ribbons, and paints. I was supposed to help in this but I always come up with an excuse. My colleagues, aware of the sorry state of my life, do not insist.
“Look, Sadhna Ma'am is here,” shouts a kid and runs towards me. I smile and pick him up.
“Happy Children’s Day, kiddo,” I murmur to his giggles. I fish for some chocolates in my bag and hand them to him. Soon all of them would surround me and will be asking for candies. So I decide to pay a visit to the staff room and collect some.
My first class is in 4th standard today, so I make my way to it dodging between the sea of children running about in completely random directions. However sad I may be, they always make me smile; a smile that is immediately followed by a wave of despair that clutches my chest. I adorn my face with the best possible smile I could fake and enter the classroom, planning my words for wishing them a day dedicated to them.
As soon as I enter, I am unsure whether it is the right classroom because I can see a cake kept at my desk. Students do that sometimes for teachers on their birthdays, but today wasn’t mine. I thought they were mistaken but before I could think of anything else I am submitted to a roar of chanting “Happy Children’s Day, Sadhna Ma'am.”
I giggle in surprise, glance towards the blackboard and at once my eyes are filled with tears. With a mingle of yellow, blue, pink, green chalks a single line adored the board, “You might be the most childish adult in the school, but you have been a mother to all of us.”
And as I sob uncontrollably with my students surrounding me with flowers, chocolates, and cards, it hit me hard. Maybe I am not as futile as I think I might be. If these pure little bundles of joy can love me this much maybe I am a person worth loving.
I might not have been enough for him because I couldn’t give him a child, but I have become enough for these orphans by being a mother to them. I need not continue being fragments of a ghost. I am new and I am complete.