AN INCOMPLETE ME
(…the nature of human longing and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams)
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
I remember. They think I’ve forgotten, but I still remember. It was a full decade ago that this took place, yet against my will, I remember.
A decade ago, I had the perception that the world we live in is a safe place. A place void of all wrongdoings and wrongdoers. A place of happiness, amity and all round prosperity. Hence, the only thing that I longed for was my family to be with me forever. That dream was sent crashing into the depths of the ocean when my parents told me they were leaving for Australia, without me.
They said they were leaving so they could, and I quote, “Build a better future for you than we can in India.” Some might say that it’s crazy for me to still remember this, but what’s crazy to me is that they thought a six year old whose imaginary friend was a mini version of herself could understand their dream of building a better future for her.
To build a better future for me?! That was not my dream neither was it something that I longed for. Nonetheless, it was what was chosen for me and I had to live with it. My priorities changed, instead of thinking about being with my family forever, I began thinking about keeping my family happy.
I desperately wanted, no needed, my parents to come back but there wasn’t a way for me to voice my thoughts out loud. Why? Because they put a beautiful tagline on their reason for going to Australia. Me. Therefore, if I am to be the one who calls them back, then I would be acting ungrateful of my parents’ sacrifices, and I couldn’t live with the guilt of that. So, I thought best to keep mum.
This silence caused by my longing to keep my family happy, truly changed who I was. Before my parents left, I was a loud and outspoken person, but this separation from them caused me to messily shove all my feelings and thoughts into a trunk and to keep them tucked away in the corner of my mind and heart never to be seen again.
There are times, even now, that the trunk likes to make its presence known to me, somehow dragging itself to the center of my attention, directly beneath a spotlight. This is when I lose sense of my current self and go back to a time that changed me forever. In the moments that I am reliving my past and I hear the creaking wooden steps, the not so padded footsteps of a person attempting to worm their way through and take a peek at what’s inside, my immediate instinct is to toss it all back into the trunk and slam the lid down, hiding everything. That’s what I have learnt to do all my life.
I want to scream out the truth. I want to tell them that I haven’t forgotten, and I can’t no matter how much I try. The grief is like a parasite that has settled itself into me and consumes my entire being with every heartbeat.
I no longer wish that I hadn’t experienced that. Instead, I wish I had told the truth long ago, so that I wouldn’t still be suffering. Just so I wouldn’t be feeling as though I relive that time every single day of my life.
In order to fulfill my longing to show everyone the strong side of me: the side that can walk into a storm and walk out unscathed, I have been suppressing an important part of my being. I suppress the vulnerable part of me every single day, and all those who love me, love a version of me that is incomplete.
Now, I long for something bigger than to keep my family happy, I long to keep myself happy. I long for the day when I can stand up confidently and yell off the top of a building who the real me is.
Until then, every time I close my eyes, I will see a line thrown across years and against my will- or maybe in tandem with it, I am unable to differentiate now- I will remember.
I used to think the world was safe. But that was a long time ago