What is Self-Love, My Love?

By Priya Porchezhian

She was tired. Too tired to even stand. She kept shifting her body weight on both legs alternatively in repeat. She was waiting for her everyday M10C bus to reach home soon so that she could pick her daughter from her friend’s birthday party. But, to her bad luck, she couldn’t spot her bus. Cursing, the timing, she stood there in the bus stand restlessly. The clouds were black and she couldn’t see the moon either. She was worried if rains could delay her from reaching home on time. Praying to weather gods, she checked the time. The bus was 6 minutes later than usual. She could see people moving super fast in their mopeds, cars and bikes along with their friends and family. She thought how fast she would’ve reached home if her husband would pick her up. She wouldn’t need to stand at the bus stop and wait for the bus, need not board a crowded bus, need not stand amidst crowds until she reaches her stop. Instead she could have happily sat behind her husband in the bike and reach home sooner. This would have happened if their office timings matched, she consoled herself. In addition to the bus being late, she suffered from severe hunger pangs too. The last meal she had was 6 hours ago, which was mostly eaten up by her office colleagues who could never wake up early to prepare their lunch. And, it was a routine for them to share lunch with her. She was dying to have at least a coffee, to suppress her hunger. But, if she spent her time in getting a coffee to drink, there are chances that she might miss the bus, which may end up in misery. Thinking of her, missing the bus, reaching home late, picking her daughter late, preparing dinner late and further repercussions, she immediately diverted herself from the stomach’s call. 

 She checked her watch again, hastily. After waiting for 11 long minutes, which was a bit more than her average waiting time, she saw her bus. And, of course crowded as usual. Filled with passengers who were passionate enough to travel in spite of being in a crowded bus. She blamed herself for not buying a coffee, now that the bus was late. It was late. Late to regret. The bus driver halted the bus few metres ahead from the bus stand. She ran with the leftover energy, and tried to climb the stairs to board the bus. There were too many to compete with her, in boarding the bus. With few pushes and pulls, somehow after four good attempts, she managed to get in and stick by the bus pole. The bus started moving. She showed her bus pass to the bus conductor. The conductor verified and gave it back to her. Pretty soon, she was submerged in her own thoughts. She mentally reminded herself that, she has to buy pink colored pencil box that her daughter has been asking for days, and an automatic helicopter for her son. She has promised to do so today. Meanwhile, her early morning scoldings from the boss peeped in. She remembered how badly he scolded her for missing a row of data. And, how her junior colleague made a nasty comment about her not working properly despite having years of experience. Period. She had to tolerate. Kilograms didn’t weigh her down, but the humiliation did. Nobody praised her when she corrected her mistake, she thought. Her thoughts were soon dissolved when a middle aged man, stout, curly hair with heavy mustache was trying to touch her wrong, who when confronted had the idea of blaming the crowd. His hands slid near her navel, for which she fumed. She couldn’t stay quiet. She gave him a stern stare. Her one stare,  was worth a thousand words. Being a beginner, or a novice, or whatever, he gave up the idea of touching her; afraid of being caught and his identity being revealed. He got down the next stop, and disappeared. Relieved, she got busy with her own thoughts like a snail encircling itself. 

Time flew, and the bus reached her stop. Hurriedly, she vanished into the best shop open and bought the pencil box and the helicopter. She wanted to surprise her children, so she asked the shopkeeper to wrap them as a gift. The shopkeeper told that the gift wrapping costed extra money. She didn’t think twice, she agreed. How could she just stop herself from surprising her children? Just mom things you know! She took the gift bag and walked briskly to pick her daughter from her friend’s home, exactly next to six houses from her’s. There she was pretty in her princess gown, that she bought her last birthday playing with her friends. Her daughter came running when she saw her and hugged. Both bid goodbyes. Along the way, her daughter was explaining how big the cake was and how badly she needed a bigger cake than her friend’s, how she came first before her friends to the party, and about the gifts she received. Nodding head affirmatively, she promised her she’d get one too when she continues to be well behaved. Her daughter promised to be one. She always maintained the calm being and wore a contagious smile, whatsoever happened. The sparkle in her eyes were strong enough to kill every chaos in her life. That’s what made her special and pure. Both reached home. 

As soon as they reached, her son, who was pretending to study mathematics, couldn’t control his eagerness. He was so keen to know if his mom had bought him the helicopter he asked for. He came running to her, and pestered her to show him the bag she was carrying. In spite of being tired, being scolded by her manager, travelling in a crowded bus and suppressing her hunger pangs for the sake of children, she responded with a smile and called both of them. She handed over the ‘gifts’. They were so surprised to see the golden papers wrapped up. Her son was so excited to see how it was, how it worked, so he began ripping the gift wrapper into pieces. Her daughter was not an exception. Soon, within seconds, their ‘gifts’ were revealed. Both the children hugged their loving mother and soon disappeared to carry on their lives with the new ‘gifts’. 

She dragged herself into the kitchen, to prepare dinner. She poured water, added flour and kneaded them into a dough like consistency. Ding dong. Ding dong. It was her husband. She knew. Over the last eleven years, he’d always come to home at this time from office. All that happened in the 11 years was this: She’d come running to open the door leaving her work half way to greet him, get his bag, keep it down and give him a cup of coffee (which is left untouched, unless it is piping hot!) , search the TV remote, tune into his favorite sports channel and make him relax. And, all these to be done by her within microseconds. Meanwhile, him scolding her for not opening the door on time! ‘What if scolding loved ones, humiliating others are nothing but a revenge taken on life?’, she thought. That day was not a ‘sun rises in west’ day. And, the thing was, both were accustomed to this life. With hands full of dough, she came running from the kitchen and opened the door, only to see her husband scolding her again for opening the door late. She greeted him, kept his bag aside, turned on his favorite sports channel, and gave his cup of coffee. Not considering his scoldings much, she resumed with the dough, prepared chapatis and potato masala. Unlucky are those without ears like her! Then, she first served her husband to save herself from getting scolded again, then called her children and fed them. 

Once, everyone ate, she ate. Ate the leftovers. It’s always while eating, her son would call her to undress him, wash away his bums after pooping, and dress him again. Though her husband is near, he always considered it was women’s duty to take care of the children. The regular cliches though. She would undress him, make him poop, wash him, put his clothes on and again come and eat the ‘leftovers’ of the ‘leftovers’. These things became a part of her life. Post dinner, it was her unsaid duty to wash the utensils, dry them, arrange them in the racks and put her children to sleep. And, in the mornings, to help her husband locating keys, office files, socks and what not! She lived her life serving her family with love and care diligently. For her, her family was her life. And, it was hard for her to juggle work, personal life, family, and career, you know.

 The only thing, that soothed her was the ‘bath’, at the end of the day! Finishing off her works, turning the heater on, she always prepared herself for a bath. This was her mundane task. The bath time late night, at the end of the day once her children and husband slept was completely ‘hers’. No one was there to pester her or scold her. It was only her. It was her own ‘sweet’ time. She left behind her clothes drenched in sweat down on the ground, getting ready to take a bath. Turning on the hot water tap, was the gateway of peace for her. The falling water had always made her take pleasure. It’s sound, the falling water, little drops filling the bucket. Everything made her feel ecstatic and enthusiastic. It was her leisure time. The warmth of the water filled the bathroom with soothing vibes, the aroma of her favorite soap invited her, along with her curiosity to take the first mug of water, hold it like a ‘World Cup’, and pour it on her sleek body. The water made its way through her neck, bosom, her stomach, her abdomen and the legs. It was an experience of pure bliss to her. She took her favorite soap, started scrubbing it all over her body, slowly and steadily. If removing the dirt was 30% of her reason, the remaining 70% was for her to feel. To feel her senses, over her neck, bosom, stomach, abdomen, legs, hands and face. It was to make her feel young. Her thoughts, her body and her soul. 

The warm water ran on the curves of her body, releasing her stress, detoxifying her problems, rejuvenating her senses, touching the inner fragile her, making her forget the lags, water flowing down her finger points like elegant drops of rain. She enjoyed every moment of her bath. She soaked, drenched and splashed. She dumped her hands into the bucket filled with water, forming ripples and watched as it went by. Wondering, how beautifully the wavelets had formed and traveled. With the hose of water, she watered herself, the roots and the roofs. She covered herself with soap bubbles, had a beard with foam and bubbles, for which she laughed at her own reflection on the mirror hanging in the bathroom, sang her favorite songs with wrong lyrics, blew bubbles through her nose which made her cough few times and enjoyed playing and popping them. The bubble baths calmed her skin, refueling her with love, care and energy. Every passing second of the bath. With every drop of water, grams of tension made its way down. As the mugs of water fell, down her body, down onto the bathroom floor, she was a step closer towards the end of her bath. As the water went down by the drain, she felt like a newborn. Born again with abundant zeal. Without negatives, more confidence and with ‘love’. Wrapped in towel, with the warmth still persisting in her, aiding for a pleasant sleep. The only ‘self love’ and ‘self care’, she knew of, to rise, run and face tomorrow again is a ‘tub of warm water to bath!’

About the Author:

Named as Priya What is self love my love, aged 21, born and brought up in Chennai. She is an engineer by compulsion (she says, in order to save her parent’s pride, who thinks anything other than Engineering is a waste of money! ) and an epigrammatist by choice. (Because, that’s what my heart always says!).

Currently a Systems Engineer Trainee at Infosys, Mysore. Priya believes big emotions do not come from big words. “I keep my words simple, and yes, I think that’s what makes me unique.” She writes her thoughts, her opinions and reality. Priya’s writings are mostly a reflection of what she sees and of what she goes through in daily life.

“And, I always love my family and feel grateful to them. They’ve taught me over these years how, nothing but, love lasts.

You can find Priya on Instagram @priyapops.pp or send a email to priyapops.pp@gmail.com. ”