In this century when each person struggles to make oneself a little better than yesterday, she has no time for self-care.

It was almost a routine for me to meet her whenever I went home. With great excitement, I stepped out and walked through the gravel road enjoying the nostalgic smell of the rain-kissed-soil. The old house stands there proudly as a reminder of my childhood days. The giant guava tree gave me a nod of acknowledgement. As children, we used to climb up and down the tree. At times, we were stuck up and Vasupanickan had to bring a ladder for us to climb down. Gone are those days, yet everything remains as fresh as it happened yesterday.

She stood there as if she was awaiting my return. As usual with a warm smile she welcomed me into the house. Though she was talking to me, she kept herself busy doing the daily set of chores. I had a close glance at her. Time has changed her from a twenty-six-year-old powerful youth to a fifty-year-old emotional and irritable lady. It is her metamorphosis that brings me to the realisation that, after all we are slaves of time.

I can recollect the past when her face was fair without any blemishes. Even during those days, she used to struggle hard, spending all her energy in the household chores. I doubt whether she ever had time for herself all these years. After seeing her for more than two decades now, one thing is obvious to me. She can’t continuously sit at a place for more than ten minutes. A hard-core Workaholic! From one work to the other, she shifts like the progression of a day to the next, and without us even realising it, a week passes by. Within ten minutes, she made tea for me, chopped veggies for the lunch, had a small fight with her husband about his careless way of hanging shirts on the bedroom door, and also updated me about her son’s board results.

Today she is that irritated middle-aged woman, with grey hair neatly hidden yet her face, narrates the tale of wear and tear which she forced upon herself all these years. As far as I know, life was not cruel on her compared to many others, yet it is her workaholic nature that transformed her this way. In this century when each person struggles to make oneself a little better than yesterday, she has no time for self-care. All that matters to her is getting up at three o’clock in the morning and constantly running till eleven o’clock at night at a stretch and then hitting the bed tired as hell. Her typical day is filled with constant worries about kids, taking care of her husband, exerting maximum strain through physical labour and then working hard at the public space.

This is what my mind says by Krishnapriya M

A good change I noticed this time is that she reads newspapers keenly. But later on, I found out it was only to collect information for her children. In the modern days of the internet when everybody has a smartphone, a set of WhatsApp friends and groups, constant interactions, and fun, she is away in her world of work, each day getting irritated a little more. When her kids and husband glare at their screens, she throws a sceptical look at them. She doesn’t participate in the discussions regarding the latest troll happening at the veranda.

For her, Facebook and Whatsapp are some alien things that glued people to their phones. But I feel, somewhere she experiences a sense of inferiority when compared to her dear ones, who are miles ahead of her in terms of technology. Like a detective, she often peeps into their screens to get a glimpse of the happenings there. Seeing this, I controlled my laughter and patiently listened to her.

Compared to my last visit, this time she is more restless and often throws tantrums at her family. I wonder if it is due to the aging process or the hormones that work on her. Even when I repeatedly asked her the reason behind the change, she brushed away my questions. When I met her husband and kid, they too shared their worries regarding her changed behaviour.

For me, she used to be an encyclopedia. Whatever questions I had, she answered them gracefully. From the stories I heard, she was as an achiever in school who always stood first in every exam. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get her dream job or reach a higher position like many of her not-so-talented friends. Today, even small progress from the side of her kids fills her with enthusiasm and she makes sure that her friends are aware of it. As she aged, the ‘know-it-all’ attitude also grew up with her. Often she takes up silly issues and talks seriously about it, trying to display her little knowledge and picks up fights with others. I do appreciate her abilities especially the photographic memory, but I must say, the way she boasts about it these days reduces the charm.

Now, when I look at her, I wish she could sit for some time, relax, look around, make some friends and live her life. At present, I am a mere witness, watching her running around, doing a bit of this and that, getting irritated and throwing tantrums often. I wanted to shake her and pour life into her. But I also realise nothing is going to stop that workaholic. When it was time for me to leave, her eyes twinkled as if they wanted to tell me something more

As I am walking back home climbing down the moss-filled steps, with a slight pain, I am reminded of these lines by William Henry Davies:

What is the use of this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.

I wonder if her workaholic nature is a revolt against her stillborn dreams. Dreams are like that, some get fulfilled, and others waft around like ghosts often making us restless.

The clouds looked heavy as if they are going to pour their hearts out. I fastened my steps but the twinkle in her eyes remained etched in my heart. I don’t think any rain can wipe it away.

(Taken from This is what my mind says by Krishnapriya M)
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