‘You should’ve tried more.’
Father has always been quite reserved. He’s been stringent about his ideals and principles. I respect him. I always have. It’s not that he was my hero. Neither did I ever call him the best father. But I’ve seen immense respect in mother’s eyes for him. And that was enough for me to feel content. Having him around us was like living in a safe haven. But today when he said those words – ‘you should’ve tried more’ – it snatched every bit of that refuge away from me.
I could say how much I tried. But I thought it was conspicuous from the way I’d walked in, staggered, struggled to speak through my tears and dropped onto the floor realizing it was all over. Was it not? How much more misery it would’ve taken to prove that I’d tried?
Mother took the suitcase – the only one I’d managed to pack before I left – and walked away silently into my room. I got to my feet, drawn and feeble. Father stood in my way. I avoided meeting his eyes and hurried my steps. His inquiring eyes ate at me as I wobbled away.
Once in my room, I grabbed mother’s hand and broke down. She said nothing. She didn’t stop me either. Instead, quite to my surprise, she started unpacking the suitcase. I pulled away.
‘I tried…,’ I gasped. ‘I tried to be an ideal wife just like you. But I failed. He’s inhuman. I couldn’t bear it anymore. Sorry Mo…’
She threw me a piercing glance, cutting me off. ‘You know what it takes to be ideal?’ she asked tonelessly. ’27 years of pretence that you’re happy, safe and respected. Then one day your daughter calls you an ideal wife. And you realize that’s all you have taught her – to bear inhumanity and stick with it for years.’ She smiled which only knifed my heart more. ‘I’m proud that you failed to be like me.’
Written by Chirasree Bose