My epitaph

“To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die” – I read this line when I was probably 14 years old and it simply stuck; I could never forget it, I don’t know who coined this line, where I first read it or why I remember it even. It simply is there and keeps popping up now and then. This line has always come to me when I have a doubt or if something dissatisfactory is happening with me, around me and I am groping in the dark seeking a way out, searching for a ray of hope; light.

Most of my youth I frittered away aimlessly searching for a goal and my true calling. I joined courses thinking this is what I wanted to do, and this would be my last, I had finally arrived. And very soon boredom would sweep in and I would be searching again. Then for some time I would do job hunting take interviews and start working.  After marriage, my husband, poor soul, would be on tenterhooks whenever I used to get into one of these job hunting frenzies! He could not reason with me and I used to be like a woman possessed, just stomp off, step out and get a job.  I realise now that it took nerves of steel on his part to be able to cope and endure a spouse as crazy, wilful and dominating like I! I worked as an audit assistant for some time when my son was a toddler. My husband was on an easy timeline at that point in life and used to be home, cater to our child and see that one of us was always available for him. Probably one reason why my son dotes and idolises his dad so much till date, even though, nowadays they barely exchange a few words whereas I spend every waking minute with the kids!

When our son was 3 years or so, we both got busy with work and careers. My husband dissuaded me from getting into fulltime work; but my madness inevitably crept in and then nothing worked. One fine day I simply went, marched into a college, met the chairman and sought a demo session for the post of lecturer. I went on Friday and Monday I started working, appointment letter in hand! My poor husband said nothing at all, with great reluctance and heavy heart he agreed that our son would be dropped off at the crèche after school, and I would collect him in the evening on my way home from work.

This continued for a few months and my new job was taxing me, I was an excellent lecturer but the subject was not to my liking. Again my sense or boredom was approaching and I was getting irritated with the students, their lack of interest and easy going attitude towards the course. B.Com students are usually there just for the degree and most of them have a business waiting for them or are already pursuing MBA on the side. So this course and class, lectures are for them just a chance to have fun, be with friends and play mischief. It is very draining and discouraging teaching such a bunch. Invariably, I used to start fresh every day with a new resolve of gaining their interest and every evening my hopes would plummet. I used to be a very grouchy person when I picked up my son and in no mood to play or give him any good company. I was too full of the dismal day and simply needed a rest. Playing with my son, spending some quality time with him became rare, very rare.

One day I took an off and we spent the whole day together, just the two of us, my son and I and we were playing, happily laughing and enjoying every moment. During the course of the day he innocently made a remark, “Ma, I would always like to remember you like this only, laughing, and having fun with me.” I burst into tears that night, what had I turned into, I was not a good mom, I was so busy working that I had forgotten how to be a loving person. My son was cherishing this moment, imprinting it in his memory to remember me by! He has no good memories of me! I came home to him every day and got him what? My share of irritation, frustration, anger and spite! When did I become like this I don’t know, and that line came back to me, simply popped up – ‘To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die’. And with a sinking feeling I realised I was dead already, and my son was hanging on to some shreds of the good me, to desperately continue to love his mom, remember her with some long lost good memories.

I never went back to being a full time working woman after that night. If that line was to be my epitaph, I was long way off the mark. Many messy memories needed to be cleansed and fresh loving ones were to be reinstalled. I would have to work really hard to make that line come true. I did work and I can humbly say I have achieved success too. My son is still very close to his Dad but I am his darling mom too, and he has many things to remember me by, in case I cease to be tomorrow. I am sure he will miss me and always feel my presence whenever he may need me.  He has been such a beautiful gift from God to us that I feel totalled humbled and grateful. He has taught me many lessons and helped me become a better person in his own simple, unassuming, innocent way.