It was a random flash from the past. My parents walking away from me, my big cousin grabbing me and taking me in the opposite direction from them and buying my a Cadbury's Dairy Milk, my mind having processed that my parents are gone, that I wont see them, my tears choking me, my voice failing me, the helplessness, the failure to understand why. Then came the hugs and cuddles from my aunts, grandmother and cousins. "She's forgotten already", "she'll be fine", "she's just a small child", "she's okay" - all these and more were said because I had stopped crying. It was deciphered that I was all right since I had the chocolate. Nobody noticed I hadn't even bothered unwrapping it. I merely held on to it. I never ate it. I was in pain. Deeply hurt. I did not know why mummy and papa had left me.
Tonight was different. It was the same memory but bizarrely the pain was not mine. The ache was that of the mother who was walking away from her only child. The bolts that must have shot through her bosom at having to turn her back at her wailing little girl. The struggle she must have gone through between the urge to turn around, run back to her daughter and the need to keep walking straight ahead. Did she look back? Did she cry? I don't know.....I've never known.....never asked my mother. It had always been my memory with me being the sole proprietor of any associated agony. Not anymore.
It is thirty-four years later that it has occurred to me that I was not the only one subjected to torment that night. For the first time I walk by my mother's side instead of gloating in self-pity. I have to admit I feel a bit naive when I think about how long it has taken me to realize that I was not alone in that situation. And I certainly wouldn't have grasped it even now had I not become a mother.
This particular memory of mine is one of the stray ones as it stopped causing any distress ages ago. Yet it was anything but purposeless tonight. I am humbled by what unraveled in my mind. How often do we deem ourselves to be the only victims in life's many a thrown-at-us situations. We carry on sulking for the 'poor ME' for time everlasting. It is the easiest thing to do. There's always someone else to blame for it or God's Will if we can't find a culprit in human form. We conveniently forget that there were others in it too. We frivolously refuse to acknowledge that others could have also suffered their fair share.
The realization and the subsequent admission to those involved, may not come naturally to all. But if they do happen, consider yourself fortunate because that will be a path to redemption from the grief you have harbored for God knows how long. Life is too short - there wont be enough room for all the happiness you wish for unless you throw out some of the unnecessary, unwanted misery.
Feel it happen when you reach out and say 'the pain was not just mine....it was yours too'.
Note: My parents were flying out of India. They had to leave me behind with extended family as was the norm in those days for couples with young children when immigrating to USA. My parents returned after 14 months and I know that the longing to be together was mutual. My mother refused to leave me behind ever again.