The relationship between Sunaina and the Sea.
| THE SEA
The world is a single entity encompassing all animate and inanimate objects intertwined in a subtle way such that ,though being invisible to the naked eye the deep profound bond can be perceived by some, whose awareness and love is intense. A mother , holding her child close to her breast is unaware of any separation .She does not know where her being ends ,nor where the childs existence starts .An artist engrossed in his masterpiece is oblivious of any segregation between his own self, the outer object of his creation, and his depiction of that object on the canvas. An athelete; who after an ardous journey finally reaches the peak; falls down exhausted on the mountain, merging it's throbbing beat with the palpitation of his heart
So stood a lonely figure on the sea shore; so silent and stationary, that she seemed a part of the landscape. The vast expanse of the sea , in it's majestic glory ,was spread at her feet. Waves were rising up high and crashing down to the coast, the white foam at their edge forming an ever changing frill at the hem of the skirt, the sea .Thoughts were stirring in the depth of her soul and crashing at the shore of her mind. She stood still like the horizon, where the outer and inner waves appeared to meet.
Hands covered with the intricate design of mehendi, the name Mahendra skilfully written in it; wrists adorned by auspicious green bangles; face and arms covered with Haldi paste;- all significant reminders of tomorrow: her wedding day. Standing on the familiar beach for the last time; hearing the pounding of the waves for the last time; she felt an inner pounding which was squeasing the life force from her , leaving her breathless and gasping.
The pages of life rustled back to reveal the one constant feature in her wavering life of 22 years: The Sea.
Sunaina was 5 years old.
Strange things were occurring in her home. Baba was sitting in one corner of the drawing room, like someone had said '' statue'' to him. Strange people moving in and out of her home , not offering her gifts or toys, all looking at her with sympathy and sadness , bewildred her.Murmurs uttered in low voices ''Poor child she is so young.''; ''How will she manage her whole life?'' ''May god be kind to her'' further added to her uncertainity and uneasiness.
No one had given her a bath, no one had changed her clothes, no one had given her milk or breakfast. Her eyes searched in vain for the familiar loving face of Maa.If only Maa were at home she would have taken Sunaina in her lap; given her a through bath; put on a nice frock for her ;braided her hair with colourful ribbons; and lastly put a black mark on her forehead to protect her sweet innocent daughter from evil eye.
The thought of Maa brought a smile to her lips ; soon to vanish at the realisation that Maa had been gone for two whole days. Never before had she been separated from Maa for even a day. The promise of obtaining a baby brother had made Maa's absence bearable till now; but not any more.
No more did she crave for a little brother; all that she wanted now was the comforting lap of her mother; her calm voice reassuring her that all was well; the gentle smile of hers which brought a reflecting smile in Sunaina's face too.
''O MAA please come home; please please come home.''This ardent plea from her tiny heart brought the result ; but not in the way she had expected.
Her mother's still form came home on a wooden bed. Strangers put her down on the floor; everyone stood beside her weeping. Baba's motionless figure , finally showed some sign of life as he came forward to sit beside Maa. He moved like some figure in a dream, shaky and unsure. Tears were flowing down his face- If anything had shaken her the most on that day's strange events ,it was this .Baba was the pillar of strength to her, Baba was the one who wiped her tears, He was the one who comforted her , protected her. How could tears find a place in his eyes? Sunaina was really frightened now, the very earth shifted from under her feet and she was falling down a deep deep abyss.
People pushed her towards Baba. But this was not her Baba, he was some imposter who had taken her Baba's face. She sat down beside him but turned towards Maa for comfort . Maa was lying on the floor. Her serene face adorned by a red bindi, a red saree draped around her, she seemed ready to go on a journey. But why was she lying on the floor ? Sunaina cried out softly ''Maa'' and held out her hand to touch her loving face. The fear in her heart grew to mammoth proportions; a shiver ran down her spine; Maa's face was as cold as ice.
Bewilderment, anxiety ,fear- emotions which had been stranger to her till now, threatened to engulf her. She could not breathe, she had to do something or she would drown .Panic drove her outside, she was running ,running ,running ,; away from her home full of strange people, away from a still cold Maa, away from a weeping Baba, away from the strange events which her little mind could not comprehend. When she stood to gasp for breath , she found herself at the seashore. The rhythmic rise and fall of the waves was the one constant feature extending from her past. It had a soothing effect on her frayed nerves, as she sat down utterly exhausted; physically mentally and emotionally.
The regular sound of the waves lapping against the shore reminded her of her mother's heartbeat as she held Sunaina against her breast. Today the sea was her mother, the gentle waves reaching the shore ,a lullaby her mother used to sing ,listening to which Sunaina lapsed into a deep and calm sleep.
The years passed.
Sunina was 10 years old.
Her life was a witness to many changes; a''new mother'' first ,followed by a baby brother.This was the brother for whom she had lost her Maa. She could still hear the soft voice of Maa '' Sunaina will get a baby brother, His laughter will fill our house with joy, you will play together, share all your secrets .Your lives will be bound by the invisible thread of love forever.''
Maa was so wrong. None of it was true. Not only was she was not allowed to play with her little brother , her new mother kept him away from her shadow also. Sunaina was always at fault, be it the way she talked, be it the way she walked , be it the way she dressed., Nothing she did was right for her new mother, who was always scolding her for one reason or another.
To her surprise and sorrow Baba too had changed. He no longer showered her with love and affection. All his attention was focussed on her ''new mother '' and brother. Just that day he had brought a Robot for her brother; it moved on it's own, had glowing red lights in it's eyes, and made a sound ''make way ,make way'' as it moved. Though curiosity was building up in her ,Sunaina controlled herself and watched her brother play with it all evening. He even slept holding it close to himself. The next day when Sunaina got the chance she picked up the toy to see how it worked .So engrossed was she that she did not see the slap coming till she was hit squarely on her face.
'' Do not ever touch my son's toys or things' 'Shreiked her 'new mother' wrenching the toy from her hands. '' Is it not enough that I have to share this house and food with you, I will not allow your miserable presence soil his possessions too. Your inauspious shadow will bring some harm to him. Get out of my house now.''
The sting of the slap did not hurt her so much as the sting of the cruel words. Although this had been a regular feature in her life , Sunaina found it difficult to get immune to the daily taunts and insults. Tears welled in her eyes as she rushed out of the house. She was running away from the house where she was considered inauspious, where her Baba no longer cared if she lived or died, where her brother shrank away from her shadow lest some harm befall him.
She reached the familiar shore near the sea and found comfort in its vast lap. There was a gusty wind today, lapping up the waves as they ran mischeoviously around her feet, tickling her and challenging her to catch them if she could, as receded back.The previous events of the day faded from Sunaina's mind as she started running with the waves trying to catch them, trying to hold them with her tiny hands.
Today the sea was her long cherished brother.
The years passed by.
Sunaina was 16 years old.
It was that phase of her life where everything was beautiful and loving. Strange thoughts crept into her mind, stranger feelings found a way into her heart, making it beat so hard that she was afraid that everyone could hear it Her face was often flushed and it had no relationship to the soaring temperature outside. She had no control over her thoughts and feelings, especially when they were about Rakesh.
How desperately she wanted some friendly ear some willing heart to unburden her complex musings .Some one who could understand her, who could help her tide over this mystifying yet sweet crisis of her life. She longed for a bosom buddy into whose arms she could throw herself as tried to make sense of her confusing contemplations.
As before her feet turned towards the only safe haven in her troubled life , the sea shore.The late afternoon slanting rays of the sun had just enough light so that she could unburden herself without feeling selfconcious. Thoughts , which she had not even acknowledged to herself; wore the garments of words and danced off her tongue even before she realised what was happening.
'' Rakesh'', she had finally done it. Uttered that word which was the source of all the upheaval in her life; at the same time source of all the joy in it too
.Good in studies- He had a scholar badge in all the classes ;Good in sports-He was the football captain of the school team ;Most popular student not only among the students but also among the teachers- all this and much more summed up in that one word Rakesh.
She was speaking more to herself than to anyone.''I have had a crush on him for so long that I can hardly remember; but so have half the girls in school .It is nothing new , what is new and exciting is the fact that He has finally noticed me. Can you believe it, last week while practising for the annual day, he came up to me and complimented me, that my act was good .He actually looked at me directly and you know he even knew my name-Sunaina .I would have swooned if Shruti had not pinched me. But you know insted of saying something witty or funny or even complimenting him all I could do was look at him with a silly smile stuck on my face. I feel like kicking myself, such a golden opportunity and I made a mess of it What will he be thinking about me? And my dear Sunaina what makes you think that he will waste his precious time thinking of you ?I am so stupid, Iam so so stupid''She kept on wringing her hands till they were red and bruised , but not as bruised as her mind and ego.
'' What is this happening to me? Am i suffering from some disorder?My flights of fancy, daydreaming, laughing at my own musings, crying at my own insecurities--This definitely is a sign of some grave sickness. But at the same time this sickness gives me such pleasure that I don't want to be cured of it. I want to go deeper and deeper into it till I am no more only the disease remains. Am I loosing my mind?' 'Sunaina's agitated voice addressed the sea.
The calm waters observed this outburst indulgently, it;s waves lapped around Sunaina's feet, giving her encouragement and approval. Like a confidante it buried all her secrets in it's bosom , only whispering sweet nothings into her ears. This was exactly what she needed. Some one to listen to her topsy -turvy speculations in a noncritical manner, some murmers of validation and support. Thiswas enough to give her frayed nerves some relief as she sat on the cool sands watching the red sun go down into the sea.
The years passed.
Sunaina is 22years old. Leaving her childhood and adolescence stages she has stepped into adulthood with it's added responsibilities and obligations.
Her mother , no longer ''new'', has arranged for her to married to the son of her distant cousin--Mahendra. They live in Kanpur and have a wholesale business of clothing, was all the information they thought it was necessary to give her. The most significant decision of her life was taken without her consultation or consent. Her father , her mother, they were her guardians--they would always do what was best for her--the logic of her mind failed to alleviate the panic in her heart.
She would have to leave all that was familiar to her; Her home , her Baba, even her step-mother and brother, to go to an unknown city, to live in an unknown family, with an unknown person. However turbulent her relationship with them had been, at least it was familiar; a routine she was accoustomed to . Now all that was set to change. What made this transition even ore unbearable was the harsh fact that her bond with the sea would be severed forever. As the day approached closer ;She felt her heart being wrenched from her; the life force being drained out of her very being till only an empty shell remained.
One last and final look at the sea had brought her to the familiar sea shore today. To hold the memory of it's grandeur in her heart forever, To capture the sounds of the lapping waves moving eternally, into her ears forever, To hold on to the the touch of the foam, as the waters slipped out of her fingers even as she desperately tried to catch it. The intense pain of loosing it all , broke down all her defences and tears, which could not be held back by her eyelids, finally rolled down her cheeks ,, down to the sands below.
Time and space ceased to exist for Sunaina ; Only the pain and tears remained. She did not know how long she stood there, waiting for the deluge to come to an end.
When she opened her eyes , the scene in front was pristine , fresh and new.The torrential rain washes away the grime and dirt leaving nature in it's resplendent glory. Sunaina's tears had washed away the pain and grief leaving her eyes and heart clear and full of love. She saw the sea with rejuvenated eyes which revived her perception and renued her emotions in a unique way.
Sunaina had always reached out to the sea in times of turmoil and insecurity; it had always responded with great astuteness and acumen; giving her exactly what she needed at that moment ;a mother's love for a 5 year old Sunaina; a brother's mischevious antics for a 10 year old Sunaina; a sympathetic friendly ear for a 16 year old Sunaina.Then how had she assumed that it would not respond to her emotional strife today; in her greatest hour of need?
Today the flawless expanse of the sea was the bosom of her beloved; the perfect place to rest her troubled thoughts before she embarked on the new journey of everlasting peace. The waves beconed her to offer her complete being into their eager arms. Sunaina's soul longed to merge with the soul of the universe; she craved to go back to her source; loose her insignificant individuality to gain the immensity of whole. All was offered at the altar of love.
The red setting sun was her wedding saree. , The chirping birds at dusk , the auspicious sound of cymbols and drums ,announcing the arrival of the bridegroom. The evening star was the priest, a witness to the final union of Sunaina with her cherished one , the sea.