(excerpts from The Old woman’s maid)
If comparing the seasons with the butterfly’s famous serendipitous life stages is clever, then certainly to liken it to the life of my landlady is more appropriate. From a young age, she was the type to identify her blessings as they came and not scale them with measurements, or glut at how better off she is or isn’t or such. If she had bothered like most others around did sickeningly so often, it would have stunned her to see the scale floored on the plate of blessings gone. She had loads of reasons to complain about how life treated her, but she never did. In the neediness of her struggles she wasn’t lucky to be perched high up in the safety of height, to prey on time with that sort of impossible patience not real enough to be innocent.
She simply detached herself from all the cruel remarks and lived on. Over the years, she didn’t copy those who only humbled themselves because they were powerless. With the increase in her age, she had proven that what matters most is the destination of the being, surely and certainly burning itself out with time.
The stakes are always too high to falter and bother over inconsequential trivialities of daily living. She stuttered on the way here, but never strayed. If she couldn’t fairly satisfy people, then she most certainly cannot satisfy God, who is poised everywhere as time and patience; all in one sameness and form.
She embraced humanity like a mother does when saving her only child from drowning. Struggling along, she identified the invincible arms of inner peace from the deceptive entangling ropy sea weeds of wrongly labeled evil. She kept away from the many harbingers of this negativity and thrived into a good person.
My landlady has six children; three boys and three girls, all from her first marriage. She gave everything to her first husband but their marriage became the predicament it wasn’t meant to be. It demanded and got her best always and at the end, it was all worth it. She entrusted what little faith she had on the limitless hope she covered herself in. Her life was fair, it is hard to apportion any blame.
Her late husband was a good man, if there ever was one. It had nothing to do with him but with what he had done. He ran away into the lifeless embrace of another entity, when it was obvious that he was financially ruined and going to be socially discredited. My landlady found herself widowed still relatively young, with six children after just ten years of marriage. She struggled on after the finality of her spouse’s rude escape, her coldest season ever. It was harsh and as concrete hard as winter at the Poles. Her senses repelled this tough monster. She pegged her faith in hope and the future, in her children and the roving power of change and it paid off ultimately. With time she actually won, outlived yesterday’s difficulties and found herself poised for a successful today. Change made sure of that, but like all sweet fruit surely go stale, her bed of roses had its share of thorns.
Her children grew into an attitude that wasn’t of her own making. In a subtle manner they claimed they weren’t indebted to her or to their father’s memory. If she knew their minds as beings she had some help conceiving, if only she knew where they were then and could reach them? She wonder if a pact would have been reached with them. As it turned out, she couldn’t tell if they wanted to live, to want and wish and need. She only knew what she and her husband wanted when they conceived to have children. Like every conscious parent, they knew what they wanted and planned for it in a broad sense, if not in every detail. They had their wish and it was satisfying their personal need to have children. They got this with the birth of child after child, six times over. With every new child they appear to achieve extended immotarlity. They unconsciously kept making one relationship after another take shape like taking small baby steps on a continuous staircase of a lifelong ascension, that will most certainly end with one final fatal drop.
As parents they had thus unconsciously stepped on their individual off-springs to get to the next level of their aspirations. They fed onto an old idea and refused to nourish a healthier new one instead. They fear that when too many new ideas are being mooted out to replace the older ones in use, they are being changed merely for being old and not for being obsolete and utterly harmful and unhelpful.
As my landlady’s six children aged, each child revealed their own unique personality. Each child’s wants, all their separate wishes as well as their needs, were all made clear with time, in its slowly piling essence. These same things that the couple didn’t know about each of their six off-springs, before the children became their true selves, were clearly revealed. No one could tell their hopeful aspiration before they took form in them and were stated in their words and deeds. They are lost now as then and ever, as is the vagueness of their knowledge.
My landlady’s late husband had been incensed by the traditional logic behind being successful in the amassed might of being remembered long after he was gone. He queried people’s endless pride in the living assets children had become, she didn’t. When they argue, she averts her eyes respectfully in the traditional fashion. He considered that as rude by his enlightened European standards.
He was out of sorts in most other ways, his mental gaze followed the local crowd but he walked alone in his logic, like a harmless funny madman in a crowded market at dusk. The market people will look on amused, but still stay at a safe distance away, remaining only for the entertainment and not hurrying home.
Her children went to good schools at her expense, slaving humiliation and her selfless sacrifices. Now that they are all established, with spouses and reasonably comfortable, they all turned away from her over powering love with a diplomatic apathy that always seems to uniquely speak for younger people when it involves their much older kin. She continues to live alone with none of her children offering to her take in and savour the ever present love she yearns to drown them all in.
‘The old woman’s maid’ available at the following links: