Down The Leafy Path..

I have a friend, who I met in college, the brightest student in class by miles. And when I say bright, I mean someone who could discuss Marxism with Marx himself, or tell you intricacies of Freud’s work that most people would not be able to comprehend. But, she never rubbed her immense wealth of knowledge in anyone’s nose;  you could walk past and not even notice her- reserved and simple, yet gifted with a brain so sharp that one word out of her and you knew this was someone who had spent years curled up with them books, from Robert Frost to Dostoyevsky. Not that she’d tell you that. But you knew. Also, she was the one you went to when the exams loomed dangerously on your head!

I lost touch with her, as I did with a lot of my friends, after college. We all went our own ways into the big bad world, our bosoms full of idealism and dreams. But, in all the years that I was not in touch with her, I would think of her off and on, and when I did I always imagined her deeply lost and involved in the world of academia, which is the only thing she seemed to be meant for and enjoyed.

But, when I did finally reconnect, I found that she had abandoned all that seemed so dear to her and gotten married soon after college. Nothing wrong with that, but she seemed the last person in the world to be doing that.

Anyway, it was what she did and I never asked her why. She married someone in the army, had a son, nine now and immersed herself in her domestic world. She seemed happy when we talked, but I always detected a twinge of regret in her voice, something I didn’t explore further.

But it made me think. Why did she make that decision? It was not for love, that much I know, since I vaguely know the man she married and I know it was not an impulsive must-marry-him decision.  But, it was not for me to question a friend’s decision, even if I wondered about it often, and she largely seemed happy, so, I let it be.

A few days ago she wrote to me and herself addressed the matter, if only indirectly. Her words are here, and I am sharing this without her knowledge, but they are so beautiful that I feel I should share them. Also, they encapsulate wonderfully what I feel about my own decisions in life:

“Introspection is a dangerous activity. It makes you look back and take stock, not a pleasant thing to do. In life, you walk down a road… then, a path opens up on the side and for some reason you leave the road and start down that path. It’s a beautiful path, tree lined, shady, and edged with dainty blossoms. The fellow travelers that you encounter are polite, friendly and nice. The path does get bumpy occasionally, but, there are no steep gradients, neither up nor down. The path is more of a dirt track and you walk in a slow unhurried pace. The scenery is pleasant though, it seldom changes. Slowly and imperceptibly, you stop taking in the scenery or feel the cool shade or even notice the fellow travelers. Even as your feet carry you along the path, your mind wanders back to that road that you got off. What all did that road have to offer after you quit it? Once in a while, through the gap in the trees, you catch a glimpse of that road. You dimly make out people walking in confident purposeful and fast paced strides. This sets you wondering. How is the journey on that road? What happened to the friends you parted from when you wandered off down this shady green path? You try and imagine their glitzy, high – octane life, full of accomplishments targets, achievements and hefty pay cheques. You feel a twinge of envy as you envision their confidence and their self-assertiveness, their ability to say no when they wish to. You gradually endow them with all those qualities that you seem to lack. The exciting journey of the busy roadsters creates a tiny black hole inside you. Soon you spend all your time peering down this hole even as your brain is slowly sucked into its lightless oblivion. How close you are now to becoming Flaubert’s Emma Bovary, even if by nature you are neither hedonistic nor adulterous. The wooded path palls on you, the cool shade suffocates you and the pleasantries of the sweet folk, you find tiresome. The timid flowers by the wayside seem so tiny, so pathetic…

Sooner or later in life we reach this stage. Bewildered, you ask yourself,” where am I? How did I get here? Would I have been better off on that other road?”

I still don’t know why she look the leafy path and I don’t want to. But my point to her was this; that no matter what path you take, you’ll always peer through the trees to look at the other one and wonder if that had been better. Someone who took the fast paced one would wonder if being with the kids on the shady path had been a better one to opt for…it’s the ultimate quandary and I can safely say it is one that most women face.

Women, not men. Men believe that there is only one path for them, and they take it. They don’t feel the angst of wondering “what if?”, of agonizong over life changing decisions, of watching their friends stride along a path that they would have liked to be a part of. It should not be this way, but it is. And it’s a shame.

6 Comments

Filed under mommyrage, ramblings

6 responses to “Down The Leafy Path..

  1. lm

    Stay away from that friend. What a downer. She has too much time on her hands. I’m a mother of two and I work part time. I never wonder about what if I didn’t end up where I am. And I never watch my friends move along and wonder. Does that make me a man? No – it makes me somebody who is challenged in my home and outside of my home. This is the 21st century. If you feel stifled at home, get a job for chrissakes. It will be better for your kids if you are happy.

  2. It is indeed a beautiful letter. I’d be in cloud nine if I could right like that.
    Regarding work, it is never too late to start. You can slowly start doing what you like and believe me, as much as it sounds cliched money isn’t going to make you any happier than you are right now. A lot secure for sure but happiness is in your hands. Though I am writing this in your comment box, it is more of a reaffirmation to myself.
    And I can’t stop reading your blog. Whenever I get a moment I open my phone and start reading. Awesome words and style.

  3. Lovely mail from that friend… Im in an exact situation and thinking of taking that plunge!

  4. Work Mom

    It’s a beautiful letter. What is she doing now, your friend? You could tell her to blog, like you. She’d find an outlet for all that creativity.

  5. I did read it…in fact, I sat and read your entire blog in a single setting. The only reason I didnt leave a comment was because I felt silly leaving a comment after EVERY post saying how much I agree with you! 😀

    In fact, I even mailed your friend’s words to my friends…so moved was I by her poignant choice of words! She has such a beautiful way with words!! Incidentally, having let my old blog die, I have started a new one called From my cosy nook. 😀 Let’s see how long this one lasts!

    • crabbymommy

      You know, I still get a shiver down my spine and a lump in my throat when I read her words. I cannot begin to tell you how bright and gifted she is. Have you read Thomas Gray’s ‘ Elegy Written In A Country Church-Yard’? If you haven’t, you must. Not sure if you like verse. But why I bring it up is because there are these lines in it that have always reminded me of my friend, who, by the way, I have not given up on. I keep goading her to write. Anyway, here they are:

      Full many a gem of purest ray serene
      The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
      Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
      And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

      I am going to check out your new blog. I am sure I’ll love it. I just need time to do it, have a million things to do – am working from home, a little, so it’s getting busy.

      Thanks again for spending so much time on my blog.

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