Making most of being
SUMI had always been special. Without being strikingly beautiful or intelligent like her three other siblings, she had, through her ordinary ways, earned extraordinary love and respect from all those she came in touch with. As an infant, too, she could strike an immediate rapport with people. Her mother often wondered how she could be so perceptive and considerate while still in her crib. She rarely cried or demanded attention. Patiently, she would wait for her mother to get free before she asked for her attention.
Her growing up years were the least traumatic for her mother. She was an extremely sensitive child who had the maturity to absorb and rationalise everything that went on around her. She was, therefore, the most sought after confidante in school and college. She could be trusted with secrets and relied upon for sound advise since she was neither judgmental nor opinionated. Hers was an unconditional loving which formed the basis of all her intimate relationships.
When a close friend
committed suicide, she learnt to internalise her feelings. Facing
death in its most unnatural form and coming to terms with the finality
of losing a dear friend was something she could never accept. The fact
that she could not share her friend’s trauma and pain rankled. That
is when she made solitude her most trusted companion.
While Sumi was the sturdiest of four children, her mother often worried about her. She wondered how her little girl would manage in a world which was infested with sharks. Would her innocently trusting ways find favour with them? So far, she had had no unpleasant experiences, but would the future be as benevolent? Would her gentle, sensitive and caring nature find the right match in her life partner?
As the years rolled by, she found walking to be very relaxing. It was not just a way of keeping fit, but also an energy booster and morale lifter. Fortunately, she had been blessed with a petite frame which outwardly did not seem desperately in need of a vigorous exercise regimen. Yet, she loved the feel of the fresh breeze gently washing over her, the skyline changing its hues, the expanding of the lungs and the tremendous lightness of being as each step that she took made her feel expansive, independent, free, creative and full of life-giving energy. Walking became not just a habit but an escape from all the things she did not want to confront. It turned into a refuge soothing her frayed nerves, giving her strength and filling her with optimism even in the darkest of moments.
Her mother often felt that life had not been too kind to her daughter. Married into a family that was only obsessed with making money, she could see her daughter wilting. Having a husband who traveled 20 days in a month to far-flung places, leaving her to manage their twins and to cope with the increasing demands of a large unreasonable extended family was not half as bad as the fact that the two had precious little in common. They were poles apart and had no common interests to bind them together. But Sumi never complained. She went on stoically, taking one day at a time, fulfilling all her familial obligations and duties as honourably as she could.
The only thing she asked was to be allowed to go for her morning and evening walks. And, this was one activity that she liked doing alone. She enjoyed her pace and resented having to match step with another, howsoever dear he or she may be. This was her time and she looked forward to it. Rather than pop multi-vitamins or take anti-depressants, it was walking that was cathartic, therapeutic and life-giving for her. Along the way, she made many friends in the flora and fauna which greeted her during different times of the year. She turned into an amateur bird-watcher, and read various pictorials and books in an attempt to understand ornithology. She developed interesting associations with fellow walkers.
As she surrendered control, she found
herself actually more in control of her life. There was greater clarity
in the way she approached her tasks. Nature’s beauty, as also the
heightened fitness levels, made day- to- day problems appear
inconsequential. Though close to forty, she still responded to
situations with the enthusiasm and energy of a teenager. While most of
her friends complained of body aches and pains, she never let her
medical history be a conversation centerpiece. From walking stemmed an
interest in archaeological monuments and preservation of historical
sites. This again led her to like-minded people and pursuits which made
her feel useful and good about herself. She also became a member of a
walkers’ club, where people from a diverse age groups undertook
long-distance walking expeditions. She had no complaints from life. She
was happy where she was and she could look forward to the future without
feeling trapped or unhappy. Walking and, through it, her contact with
nature provided the balance and the life-sustaining energy for her to