“You are so selfish, Maya.” “I can’t believe I married such a self-centered and self-obsessed person.” Deepak said all this and much more. Maya sat there, on her side of the bed, listening. Well, not really. She was numb. She didn’t feel a thing. She wasn’t listening or even hearing. She had heard this and heard this and heard this over and over, in the last 1 year. She felt like all her energy had been sucked out of her. She couldn’t ask or say anything anymore. She felt like an enormous doormat which has become so dirty and filthy from this person walking and stamping all over it, that no one even remembers what color was it to start with or if it’s any use anymore. All that was left now, was for someone to just tear it apart and throw it away. Nobody will look at it or consider picking it because it’s so dirty and ugly. Yes!! That’ll be the end.
When she got some time to just be with herself, Maya remembered, how she was this feisty, go-getter, ever excited person. She had moved on (or so she thought) from her break up with Veer. She was sought after at work for her professional excellence and her smartness. That’s when she met Deepak. And what a charmer, this man. Swept her off her feet. Made her feel every bit beautiful and followed her wherever she went. He even was with her through a difficult time when she fell very ill. Sometimes Maya had wondered why wouldn’t he just let go of her?? She wasn’t really in love with him. Or it was just that she was looking for Veer but where would she find him? She was only ‘going with the flow’. She married Deepak. A known devil is always better, she thought. She wasn’t emotionally invested but she had to get married. This marriage made her father happy who now approved of this boy. Veer was not a ‘fit’, he had said.
Well, the feisty girl was in a new role, full of dreams. She embarked on this journey with hope and with all her love and commitment. Her dreams were never material. They were full of love and laughter and memories. None of these would last long. As if they were destined to be shattered. As if she has signed up for this. She lost her job 3 months into the marriage. That’s when she saw a different Deepak. She paid for everything and continued doing that. She considered it her responsibility since she had offered in the first place, even if it meant selling off her jewelry when she was short of some. Deepak started drifting away. Late night work. Away at weekends. Never reachable. Never approachable. That was a new reality. And every time Maya asked a question, she heard how selfish she has become and that she’s not the same person anymore. It was told to her so many times that at some point she had started believing that. So much for the first year of marriage!!!
With the first wedding anniversary approaching, Maya had gathered all her courage to speak to her dad about Deepak’s affair with another woman and telling him that maybe this was a mistake and walking out of this wedlock now could be the way out. But it wasn’t that easy now, was it? As if Maya was destined to now go through a lot of pain, which could make her a better / stronger person for sure but it was going to hurt a lot before that. Daddy dear fell ill and fell very very ill. It shook her whole family. Like always, her family took precedence over everything. Even her broken heart, her tears, which she would let go off every time she found a lone corner when no one was looking.All that courage she had gathered earlier, was now turned to being with dad and help him heal. Months passed and then a year and there she was, standing before her father’s body. Immovable, lifeless body. She had lost her favorite man. She did not cry. There was so much to be done now. So much to manage.
And how beautifully she did all of it so daddy’s soul finds it’s peace. It was time to be back with Deepak. She has only been there once a week in the last 6 months. Deepak had drifted further away. He seemed to have his own life. And the day she completely lost him, was when she took a bold decision to not accept any inheritance or fight for it. That’s when the late night lectures of how she was selfish and self- centered and self-obsessed, started. She felt that her soul was being crushed. Helpless and numb she sat there, on her side of the bed. She had moments when she thought of Veer and how beautiful her years with him were. She hadn’t really let go of him.
A small job kept her busy and from losing all of her dignity. She always had 2 hours every evening before Deepak got home from work. That was her time. Her time to weep. Her time to feel helpless and so unloved. She had nowhere to go. Like all temporary things, this did not last either. Things worsened. Deepak would be away for days. They never spoke now. He took away all her money. He made her feel like she was not needed and that she was only taking space. All this had to end when Maya finally said she is going to end the marriage. She couldn’t take it anymore. She hated the person she had become. She was so helpless and defeated. Once enterprising and lively Maya, would now just shy away from talking. Her mind was always thinking about which hotel has Deepak checked into with his girlfriend. Yes. She had seen bills from hotels and messages he sent to her one day when she took his phone to search for a contact. She was exhausted, her trust just taken for granted. This had to end. And she decided.
Freedom from a poisonous marriage, Maya had found some of that courage back. She met friends and family again. It wasn’t over though. She had bigger mountains to carry. Yes! Mountains. That’s what they felt like.A family that loved but only if their conditions were fulfilled. Maya always, brushed things aside saying, “they’re my family. Can I not do so much? Can I not let go of little things?” She never realized these little things could have made her so happy. She loved and she loved and she loved. She kept giving. Never received any.
During these years she also met people. Men! Dates set up by friends mostly. She found herself at a loss for words every time she met a guy. Blank!! Did not know what to say to them. Just smiled, answered questions, may be asked some and that’s it. Waited for them to call back and that never happened. Why would it? She made fun of them and moved on. Moved on? Ha! Never. It broke her heart. She’d often think how no one in the world can ever be like Veer. Veer!! Who was happily married now? Maya looked for Veer in every man she met. No wonder she did not ‘click’ with any of them.Things not working out with these men was a blessing for Maya. They were a blessing because her heart wasn’t really open to letting anyone in. She hadn’t sat down to hear herself or her own grief. So it was a blessing.
Maya made new friends. Some of these, god-sent people made her want to love herself. She began listening to her heart more often now. But she was always careful to not say that to her family. She was scared to tell them that she was happy. They’d point out all that was wrong with the world. Her mother would tell her all that she wasn’t doing. After all, her identity was all that she did for people and not the person she was. She was happy but she wasn’t free. Every now and then she would be accused of being irresponsible. She always found herself emotionally locked from all corners. No escape. Family first. And hence, she always said with a smile, “they’re my family. They love me. I love them. Can I not do this much?”
Maya was on a journey of self-discovery and it was happening. Slow. But it was happening. She had once again started speaking her mind. No one liked it but she said what she thought. She felt good when she did that. She felt good because she did not have to pretend to be someone else. She loved everyone tremendously, to no end. But all that was remembered by her family was that she said what she felt and that was considered rude. After all, she’s in India, she’s divorced, she doesn’t have a huge bank balance. She has a voice?? No! She cannot have a voice. Nah! She is not allowed to do that kind of thing. She must agree with the family. They may be being very demeaning and hurtful but she must agree with them.
Maya being Maya, she did that also but for a very very short while. She tried. For the love of her family. Again!! But she couldn’t. It was against her being. That wasn’t her. She could pretend to be a different person than who she was.
Her journey into self was still on and that kept her going. And that became her power. It did when she stood her ground and her family found it so easy to say those words to her. Words that made her cringe, words that made her numb. Her family, her most loved people said to her, “Maya, you are a selfish, self- centered and self-obsessed person”. “You don’t see anything beyond you”. That was it. That’s the day Maya promised herself to not fall into this trap. Her journey of self-discovery brought back all her power to her. She said, and she said politely – “I am here for you because I love you”. “I want to always be here for you and share many moments of happiness and sadness together”. “I want you to know that there is someone I love much more than you. And that’s me”. “I love myself for being kind-hearted, for being a fun person, for being full of mischief, for my smartness and my intelligence and above everything else, I absolutely love myself for being genuine without a drop of self-deception”. And this is where the real love story began. The story of Maya being in love with every bit of herself. She is free. She’s free of having to give a piece of herself to every person and not keeping any with her. She has stopped being someone she’s not. A person she doesn’t know. She’s herself. She doesn’t fear to be selfish. In fact, she loves that now. She’s not afraid to be who she is. She’s not afraid of people disliking her sometimes. She’s in love with all those people who love her just the way she is. Her wings may be crooked but they open and man do they make her feel beautiful. Whoever truly loves her sees the beauty in that as she herself does.
She’s felt something else too. She has felt her heart open up. Her heart is no more bound by the mold called ‘Veer’ where she always tried to ‘fit’ people in. No, she doesn’t do that anymore. Her heart is now open for someone who enjoys her love for herself and is willing to share just as how she is willing to give her precious love to him. She isn’t at a loss for words anymore. She has a lot to talk. Above all this, she’s happy and she’s content.
This is just the beginning of a beautiful love story. I’ll meet you at the next turn with this Selfish Maya ?