Some day this will pass and I will be able to look back and smile, we have to tell ourselves when we are faced with a terrible blow. The yearning, the restlessness, the regret may even seem ridiculous in time. But, till then we have to break the time into tiniest of parts and try to squeeze life from each of the them.
How long can one carry this burden - unfulfilled desires, unmet expectations, wrong perceptions, unrequited love and broken promises? Life is littered with disillusionments but we have to move on. It took a Buddha to realize that desire is the root cause of suffering, and it took a Buddha to get over all desires to reach Nirvana. For the rest of us, the task is not easy, even if we listened to what he said. We stumble, we fall, we question, we cry. Sometimes we rise, sometimes we just resign. But there must be something worth living for we are still here.
A dear friend asked, "Arundhati, why is it so hard to live alone?" She is going through the horror of a bitter, long drawn divorce. For several months I have seen her coming to terms with life sustained only by an ardent faith. She breaks down like this sometimes, when the burden becomes unbearable. She cries her heart out and when she is done she wipes her eyes, stands erect and tries to negotiate with life on her own terms. I can't do much for her except for lending an ear. But I am in awe as I see her rise again and again from the ashes of her conscious. Yet, when she asks, why is it so hard to live alone? I have no answer.
Through our lives we get into various relationships - brother, sister, parent, husband, wife, lover, friend. Each relation comes with a baggage of expectations. If they are not fulfilled we are hurt, if they are fulfilled we end up with still more expectations. At some point of time, when the burden becomes too much to carry, we start struggling to get out. But more we shake our limbs to escape more we find ourselves entangled in the mire. Liberation does not come easy and loneliness seems like the greatest of the curses.
Just as a flame would burn till the end of its fuel, a relationship would sustain only until it has substance. So many of our relationships burn out. Some exist as mere shadows - sometimes just for the sake of society. Yet we cling on to them either out of social pressure or emotional dependence. We try to stoke them, struggle to breathe life in them only to be disappointed again and again. For so many of us end of a relation seems like the end of the world. We get desperate to a point that we are willing to sacrifice our self respect, our dignity, our principles and values to sustain a relation.
But, if a relation demands the sacrifice of your self esteem, is the relation worth it? You fall in love with a man who is not even willing to take responsibility for his actions. Is he really worthy of your love? The ability to love unconditionally is the greatest power of all. Yes, you are prepared to make greatest of the sacrifices for the person you love and that is noble. But if your love rips you off of your self, is it even love anymore? How far can you go and how much could you loose?
Any relationship should be based on the pillars of attachment, trust, sacrifice and mutual respect. If any of these is weak it would not take time for the relation to crumble.
If there is anything we are entitled to in this life, it is dignity and self respect. It is our right as the children of God. Any relation which crosses these boundaries should and would die.
Yes, it will hurt when the relation to which we gave everything comes to an end. But if we step out of the pain and regret and open our hearts wide enough, we will see that, actually, we do have a choice. We could choose to close ourselves with hatred and wallow in self pity or rise above ourselves with compassion and strength. Our dignity is our legacy but it is our responsibility too. We are the guardians of the divinity within us and we have to maintain its purity and respect. For this we have to be emotionally self reliant. We have to find within ourselves the strength to live this life away from the context of all the relations - accepted or imposed.
Words of song waft through my mind...
Khulke muskurale tu dard ko sharmaane de
Boondonko dhartipar saaz ek bajaane de
Open your heart and smile and let the pain run shy
Let the drops of rain play a melody around you...