Today’s story is about Anu, a free-spirited, fiery and a seemingly aggressive girl who is actually a softie at heart.
The early years of her life were extremely traumatic and painful. She was only five when it was discovered that her mother had a terminal illness and so did not have long to live. This was like a bolt from the blue for the entire family and impossible to accept. And for the little girl, her whole world seemed to have collapsed. She was totally lost and heartbroken. She couldn’t imagine how something like that could happen to her mother who was such a wonderful and loving person. How could God be so unfair!!
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In a full house with a father, four older siblings and grandparents she had no one to turn to. Everyone seemed to be too caught up in their own grief. They all seemed to have forgotten her! It was as though no one cared enough. She needed to be comforted, consoled and taken care of but there wasn’t anyone there who could do that.
Such a shock could have destroyed her, messed her up but on the contrary, this chaotic and grief-filled environment ended up making a fighter of the child. Since no one could be there for her, at a subconscious level, Anu decided to be there for herself. She developed the grit, the resilience to cope with the situation. All she knew was that she didn’t want to see tears in her mother’s eyes. She decided to do everything in her power to make her happy. This included running errands for her to doing well at school to not fighting with her siblings. And most of all she learnt to mask her feelings. She decided that no matter what she would never cry in front of her mother or anyone else for that matter.
And then came the day when her mother left them. Though devastated the little child did not shed a tear in public. When too overcome with emotion she would go to her room to cry but in front of the world, she was fine. She remained calm and composed during all the rituals. Her father, her siblings could not contain themselves, could not stop crying but not the little girl! She, In fact, seemed to be taking care of them.
Her immense self-control seemed unnatural. But her mother’s illness and her way of coping with it had made her extremely resilient and very, very private. She had ended up building a wall between her and the rest of the world. And this trait of not showing her feelings became a part of her persona. She never showed her true self to anyone. On the surface, she always appeared to be a carefree, open person but actually, she was just the opposite.
When she grew up she continued to be like this with the result that she couldn’t ever be really close to anyone. She had friends, she had her family but no one really knew the real her. However, all this started to change with the entry of Rajat in her life. Rajat with his caring, considerate, soft and understanding demeanour was able to connect with her in a way no one had ever managed to. She could see herself opening up to him and sharing more than she had done before even with her own sisters. For the first time in her life, she felt a certain amount of closeness with another human being where she was ready to share a large part of her life though still not everything about it.
Gradually as time went by they became extremely close and she started depending on him and accepting him as a part of her life. As expected it wasn’t long before they decided to cement the relationship further by tying the knot. Though a little unsure about how she would manage to live with her in-laws, Rajat managed to convince her that it would not be that difficult and he would always be there for her.
The initial months were not too difficult though she found it quite tough to share him with the other members of his family. Also, she could not develop a closeness with any of the other family members. She was fun to be with, she could be caring and loving but she could not help holding a part of her back. If in a trying situation she found it difficult to reach out and ask for or offer help. In fact when in need she could become very aggressive and behave as if she was in total control when in fact it was the reverse. She could fly into a rage to try to cover her inability or she could treat the situation very lightly. The underlying intention was to push everyone away. This kind of behavior obviously could not be understood by most people.
There were times when she would take important decisions without consulting anyone because she felt she didn’t need to ask anyone and was quite capable of handling things on her own. Like when she was bypassed at work for a junior and for a much-coveted role, she decided to quit and did not deem it necessary to inform her husband let alone consult him. She put in her papers and did not tell anyone at home who realized that something was amiss when she stopped going to work.
She was there but yet still not completely there. It seemed that she was extremely temperamental when actually she couldn’t open up and share all her feelings. Like when her mother in law fell ill once and had to be hospitalized she took a lot of care of her but when it came to staying in the hospital with her she could not say so openly. And when she did it was after her husband prodded her to do so. This did not really sit well with her in-laws.
Many such major and minor incidents became quite difficult to handle even for someone like a Rajat who though madly in love with her could not always understand her behavior, her reactions. At times he would get really exasperated with her and could not figure out how to deal with such situations. If he tried talking to her she would just clam up and refuse to discuss anything though there were times when she could be quite open and receptive but it was really confusing. On top of that, the in-laws had their own set of complaints and Rajat was caught between all of them. Nobody could understand his plight. He loved all of them but they did not seem to love each other.
As a result, a certain amount of frustration started creeping into their relationship. The love was there but the holding back on Anu’s part with time started creating a distance between them. Rajat could not always understand why she had to mask her feelings and not be open about them. Coupled with this was her aggressive and stubborn nature which made her seem to be a selfish, uncaring person. This mix was very, very confusing and frustrating.
The effort involved in keeping up with all this started to get to Rajat and eventually came a time when the situation became impossible for him to handle. The parents on one side and Anu on the other …. he didn’t know what to do. In their own ways, all of them were right, they were justified but it was difficult for them to see eye to eye. He consulted some of his close friends and they suggested that they should see a counselor who would be able to suggest the best way forward. They felt that the counselor would be able to help Anu to open up and share her thoughts and feelings and make her understand how her behavior was leading to misunderstandings in the family. It was quite difficult for Rajat to convince Anu but eventually, she agreed. The reason was that she truly valued her relationship with her husband and did not want it to be affected in any way.
It was definitely not easy for someone as private as Anu to open up in front of a stranger but with the counselor’s prodding and Rajat’s encouragement she gradually opened up. All her pent up emotions, feelings started to pour out. The reserve started melting and she could share a lot with the counselor.
She had to attend many sessions with the counselor, sometimes without Rajat, sometimes alone but the desire to save the relationship made her go on. The sessions also helped her in improving her relationship with her in-laws. She learnt to open up, to share and this was appreciated by her in-laws.
In fact, the sessions brought the husband and wife very close and also resulted in their deciding to have a child.
Thus their love for each other helped them to not only save the relationship but cement it further.
Anu was now actually a free and carefree person and not a seemingly one…