(Written in 1996)
It is a chilly winter morning in Allentown in America. I look out of the window from my son’s apartment and see the stark naked trees silhouetted against the grey sky. Just a few months ago, they were dressed in green leaves which turned to resplendent fall colours and dropped dead to be raked away as rubbish. But the bare branches have a beauty of their own and story to tell-of a vibrant past turning into a colourful present and getting ready for a rejuvenated future. Isn’t that what life is all about? As I approach my fiftieth year, I wonder what I should do to keep the memories of those bygone days, alive. The trees shed their leaves and come back to their original glory. What of humans? All we can do is record the vignettes of the past and let it be a silent witness to what we were and why we are-what will be, will be. Que Sera Sera!
“Why don’t you write your autobiography”? Suggested my son Anil. When does one write one’s autobiography? When one is a celebrity going on eighty or when one turns fifty? I am not sure about my qualifying for the first. I am giving myself a birthday present on reaching my half a century milestone in this beautiful world. What will be the purpose of this mission? A narcissistic urge to blow my trumpet? Conceit? Frankly, no. It is just a desire to celebrate my womanhood. We women tend to be self effacing, underplaying our accomplishments-letting our labours be taken for granted, happy to be unsung achievers. It is said that a life worth living is worth writing about. I feel it is important for us women to document our lives as we go through many experiences that are unique to women and writing about it, helps men understand us better. We are often urged to ‘keep quiet’ about all that happens to us, by family…friends and society. We are conditioned to believe that all that happens to us is our cross to bear .For me…life is a lovely journey on which God has sent us and expects us to write a travelogue to record the sights and sound in our life
Another reason for embarking on this back-patting mission is to document my experiences in the context of prevailing times. Hopefully, these could serve as guidelines for women who feel helpless in a situation and wonder which way to go. Many times, while at cross-roads of decision making, I often looked for role models and they were hard to find. When I did, I learnt how to manage life in a smarter way. I wish better sense had prevailed when I made many bloomers earlier! But, that is what life is all about, to learn out of one’s own mistakes and learn even more from others. The latter is a wiser move and that is why I am writing this book-to reach out to you, my readers and share both my wisdom and folly, so you can wise up before it’s too late!
Instead of going on a chronological walk down memory lane, my reminiscences are categorised under various phases of my life. There is nothing earthshaking about my story. If you want one good reason why you have to go through these pages, here it is-because I have taken the trouble to write it! I have set out on this journey on the premise that it is human tendency to be curious about our fellow beings and look into their lives. If we can relate to the person we are reading about, we feel a sense of belonging. There is a special pleasure in seeing our reflection in the other’s portrait.
I am an ordinary woman. But I have an extraordinary ability to pack into my life great moments of joy, even out of negative situations. This is what I’d like to share with you.
It is always difficult for a person who wants to be a mermaid, to survive in a world of giants, wizards and dwarfs. That is how it has been for me. I think different, behave accordingly and articulate the same. To continue to be a mermaid which is after all a figment of the imagination, when giants and others expect you to follow them, can be a very lonely journey. But I enjoy it because it is my life and I will live it the way I want.