Somya Sethuraman

I am back

In Life on March 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm

I stopped writing last year when my life was constantly under a scanner. My job at the government was always being scrutinized. People who I thought were friends were actually being over-critical of me. And somehow the “happygoluckygirl” tag they had attached to me was too much of a burden to carry when in actuality I was grappling with both personal and professional dilemma. I had no time for myself and I was finding it hard to even breathe freely in the life that I had so perfectly crafted for myself.

While at work, I wished to be with my husband who had never really seen a calm or happy me after our marriage. I would get back from work only by 9pm with nothing but worries on my mind. My husband would get surprised at my half-eaten lunchbox. While dumping away the unpleasant smelling food, he would often worry for me and ask: “Don’t you feel hungry at all?” Both of us would quickly try to make something for dinner but at the dinner-table, we would end up discussing work. It ruined both our appetites. Morning were worse when I felt most torn apart between my personal and professional life.

While at home, I was incessantly making and receiving work calls, doing household work and talking to my parents or in-laws on the phone. Even moments when I sat with Ravi in our balcony, my mind would wander and I felt this restlessness and helplessness that I had really never felt before. My body ached all the time, I couldn’t sleep and I would constantly twist and turn in bed hoping sleep would come. I would try hard to imagine happy things but bad thoughts came more naturally.

Yes, that was how I really felt and I don’t know how I let myself get into such deep shit. I am a really strong person and probably that’s why I could never imagine that I could possibly let life get out of my hands.

I finally quit my full-time job and many people assumed I had something bigger in store for me. Either a better job or probably a baby. But I had quit because I had spent more time than I had thought I would spend on that job. And more importantly, I was lost and I had to find myself again. Not only had I made my life miserable, I was also dragging my husband to lifelong misery. For several weeks even after I quit, I felt the same. I couldn’t concentrate and I was also upset and worried about the bright career I had given up.

But things improved.

After our marriage, I had never once sat with my husband to talk about the mundane things in life. To just chat about the good weather or how lovely the breakfast was or how loud our next door neighbors were. We had never taken a holiday or spoken about our life together. Even though we knew each other for several years before our marriage, we had somewhere lost touch due to the complexities of life. We were just two individuals living under the same roof, discussing our problems and life as two gentlemen on a coffee table would do.

I am able to share all these things today only because it is easier for me to analyze my past and talk about it. I do think I have made some serious amendments and also sacrifices to change my life. Today things are much better. I wouldn’t blame my job entirely for how I had felt though. My problems ran deeper, they were within me and the biggest mistake I had made was to put them aside. I had assumed that they would go away with time. But healing takes a long time and one has be willing to take those steps to begin the process of healing.

I work part-time now and I spend the rest of my time just gazing at the birds, reading, running errands or waiting for my husband to come home to share my little stories from the day. I have to admit that I sometimes get really bored and get back into the crazy work schedule every now and then. In those times, I try to refresh my memory and tell myself that I can’t have it all. That happiness is not something that we can wait for. The choices we make strongly determine our state of mind.

Life is still far from being perfect. But I am taking one step at a time.

Tamil Nadu flush with pride

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

Tamil Nadu Flush with Pride

The Hindu carried a piece I wrote on our work in the department. Please do take time to read it! Thanks.

Kumari and I

In Life on August 29, 2013 at 6:05 am

I am unwell and usually when I am down with flu, I have sleepless nights and tend to hallucinate quite a bit. Strangely, my efficiency at work increases as I shut myself from all the other distractions of the world. But other than that, I become highly irritable, short tempered and ferocious.

After staying with my parents in Delhi for a week or so, I returned to Chennai last Sunday. Generally, it takes me a day to two to get back to the grind but this time it is taking longer. I still don’t know why but I think Kumari has a role in this.

Kumari is my domestic help and she has been with us for a little more than six months. Her job description includes coming to our home at 8 30am everyday to sweep, mop and wash our utensils, for which she gets Rs. 1500 per month. She usually completes all her tasks within 45mins to an hour. Apart from our home, she works in 3 other houses as domestic help, and also has a fruits and flowers stall to attend to day and night.

Generally speaking, she is very hard working and the only earning member in her family. She lives with her husband and two sons, and their job description is to drink all day long and wait for Kumari to bring them food and clothes.

In the last three months, Kumari has been taking a lot of unprecedented offs which completely disrupts our daily schedule. Initially, I was very sympathetic but when this became a regular affair, I started losing my patience. As it is, 24 hours seems very little to accommodate my hectic job, cooking, packing lunch, grocery shopping, cleaning up, washing clothes, and catching up with parents and in laws on the phone.

In the month of July when I was traveling for work almost 3-4 days every week, Kumari did not come for 9 days during the month, out of which 3 were taken at a stretch. Her repeated absence started affecting my work as I would reach 45 minutes late to work. Even during days when she turned up, she would either come too late or too early.

I screamed at her haplessly a few times but her list of lies and excuses kept growing, and so did my excuses at work for being late. Meanwhile, I developed severe backache due to my strenuous schedule.

Finally, when the trip to my parents’ home in Delhi got finalized, I was so relieved! I felt I could just spring back to normality after a week long’s “work from home”. However, the domestic help in my parents’ home constantly reminded me of Kumari. Sometimes she would even come in my dreams, holding a broom and wearing angelic clothes.

When I returned to Chennai last Sunday, I was looking forward to seeing her on Monday morning. She did not come. I went late to office. Tuesday again, my husband went looking for her but couldn’t find her. Tuesday evening, I developed severe cold and fever, and returned home a bit early. I decided to take a walk to Kumari’s stall. She sat there, as she did in my dream, looking angelic, holding beautiful flowers in her hand and attending to her customers. Her expression changed as she saw me walking towards her. I simply smiled and asked her, “what happened Kumari, why haven’t you been coming?” Spat came her reply, “I have been coming everyday, but you are never at home. So I thought, maybe you are still in Delhi.” I just walked back dejectedly to my dirty and filthy home. As I rested in my sofa feeling terribly sick, Kumari came inside the house quietly without knocking the door. She caught hold of the broom and got down to cleaning our home.

Next morning, when she came on time, I served her hot breakfast and tea and the three of us, including my husband, sat down and cherished those few moments of our seemingly normal lives.

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