An Ache for Innocence

মেহবুবা জুবায়ের's picture
Submitted by mehbuba [Guest] on Sun, 25/03/2012 - 8:04pm
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An Ache for Innocence
By: Iris Zubair

I have been missing my childhood so much lately that I’m almost ashamed of it. At the age of 22, nobody has the time or sympathy to make excuses for wishful thinking. But I find myself doing nothing else these days. I daydream and imagine simpler times in my life when every decision didn’t seem so monumental, so incredibly life changing.
For most Bengali women, this age means you are ripe for marriage picking. Sometimes I feel like an apple that’s about to fall from the tree, but is still clinging on for dear life because life from up here is too easy to bear the impact of hitting the ground. Our parents suddenly turn into obsessive matchmakers that don’t waste any opportunity in a conversation to remind you that marriage should be a principle component in your day to day thinking.

It’s absolutely maddening and I hate it. I make sure to tell my mother so every time she dares to bring it up around me. Other daughters might grit their teeth and bear through it but unfortunately for my mother, she had me and I’m far too dramatic to not express myself.

I’m also too selfish to even entertain the idea of marriage. Marriage implies the epitome of growing up and being an adult. After that, the only next step is to have your own children and thus, the process of adulthood is officially complete.

The problem with that for me is I’m not ready to grow up all the way yet. I know that I am an adult as far as my age goes (although my mother never ceases to remind me that adults support themselves financially, so technically in her book, I’m still a child), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m ready to make such huge leaps and bounds in my life yet.

Another reason I refuse to grow up so quickly, a much bigger reason, is that I still yearn to be somebody’s child.

Ever since my father died, my mother and I have become a team. We are co-parents to my younger brother, we handle the household together, I am her financial consultant and she refers to me with personal/professional problems. I am her partner. Any mother-daughter relationship comes rarely now and in fleeting moments.

I have, of course, consented to this completely because I know that is what she needs. She needs somebody to step up and shoulder some of the responsibility with her and I am more than willing to do so. I have been my mother’s confidant and partner since I was 13 years old and my father first lost his job. I am beyond used to this.

My mother and I never really had a very close relationship while I was growing up. She was never very good at communicating with me and often the only way she spoke to me was through a series of insults and shouting. I was never pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, popular enough or talented enough for my mother. By the age of 5, I was convinced she hated me.

But my father, on the other hand, made up for the slack on my mother’s part by spoiling me with gifts and adoration. He was always buying me toys and candy, always beaming when he saw me. He would talk with me for hours, put me to bed, tell me stories and listen to music with me. I could ask my father anything and everything in the world. He was my safe place.

I remember a day when I was very young and my father and I were in the car, which was probably our favorite place in the world to spend time together. I had just gotten prescribed reading glasses. They were thick glass-rimmed pink glasses with rainbow stars on the sides. I was so young at the time that none of my other friends had to wear glasses. I felt like an alien.

I remember wanting to ask my father a question, but it felt kind of foolish. Finally, I worked up the nerve.

“Daddy, do you think I’m prettier than my friends?”

Instead of giving me a direct answer, which was completely against his style, he told me a story instead. My father was kind of like Socrates in that way.

He told me about a woman who worked as a maid in a rich household. One day the lady of the house asked the maid to make lunch for her son and bring it to the school.

“Give it to the most beautiful child in the school,” the lady said.

The maid complied and brought lunch as she said she would. The following day the lady of the house came in yelling at the maid, “I told you to bring lunch for my son! He said he didn’t get any lunch!”

The maid calmly replied, “You told me to give the lunch to the most beautiful child in the school, so I gave it to my son.”

Even at that age, I knew that was as far as he would go to answer my question. But I gathered what he was trying to say. He was telling me that no matter how I looked to anybody else, that I was a jewel to him. To him, I was the most precious thing in the world. Essentially, it didn’t matter what objective opinion decided I was pretty or I wasn’t. To my father, there wasn’t and could never be anybody prettier than me.

And therein lies the beauty of being somebody’s child, of being precious to someone. The past few years of my life have been so treacherous and cruel that I’ve begun to feel as special as the ground that I walk on. I’ve gone through life so numb lately that I’ve forgotten what special even feels like.

These are the times when I ache for my father the most - the times when I need to be reminded that I am still a jewel.


Comments

রাতঃস্মরণীয়'s picture

very nicely written, we all have our own memories with different significance. but the memories of childhood, it's always the best ones.

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প্রেমিক তুমি হবা?
(আগে) চিনতে শেখো কোনটা গাঁদা, কোনটা রক্তজবা।
(আর) ঠিক করে নাও চুম্বন না দ্রোহের কথা কবা।
তুমি প্রেমিক তবেই হবা।

মন মাঝি's picture

You are still a jewel to your mother and will always remain so, whether or not she always successfully communicates this to you.

By the way, don't grow up and stay dramatic as long as possible. দেঁতো হাসি

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রাতঃস্মরণীয়'s picture

চলুক

------------------------------------------------
প্রেমিক তুমি হবা?
(আগে) চিনতে শেখো কোনটা গাঁদা, কোনটা রক্তজবা।
(আর) ঠিক করে নাও চুম্বন না দ্রোহের কথা কবা।
তুমি প্রেমিক তবেই হবা।

উচ্ছলা's picture

চলুক

Life can be a treacherous 'biatch' but you must move on, shine on. Always know this: Someone loves you and you'll stay precious to someone.

Thanks a ton for sharing your childhood memories হাসি

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