“What happened? Stop crying. Aiyye! Strong girls don’t cry“, Prabha teacher said.
That day Acha left for the first time to Saudi Arabia early in the morning at 4. I was only five. I saw him again only after three years.
I pulled up my uniform frock and wiped my tears. I’m strong, I told myself.
“Why are you crying? If you cry who’ll console your sister?“, Geetha aunty said.
Mom had fainted for the first time because of low blood sugar. I was twelve.
I wiped my tears with the back of my hands and tried to put a smile.
“Why are you crying? Stop crying. Strong girls don’t cry. Mummy aur Renu ko kaun sambhalega?“, Raj uncle said.
Dad had met with an accident and was not recognizing any of us.
My eyes which had already welled up, started pouring. I escaped into the restroom.
“Why are you crying? What will happen to my son?“, said my mother-in-law.
I had entered her house for the first time after tying the knot.
“You have no right to cry. You have chosen your way. What will happen to my husband and my daughter? If something happens to them, you’ll never be able to live peacefully. I’ll never forgive you.“, said Amma from the other end of the phone.
Dad said, “I have nothing to do with you. I am only worried about my wife and daughter.”
I didn’t know where to escape in that foreign land, the house that was supposedly my new home. I swallowed my tears.
“Don’t respond to her angry outburst. Please do it for the peace of the family. And don’t cry. Your tears will curse my house. Mere liye beta…”, said my father-in-law as I travelled with him in the chartered bus every morning.
Honestly, tears had stopped flowing even when I wanted to cry.
“Why are you crying? You family will listen. How will they feel?“, asked my doctor and anesthesiologist as they pricked yet another set of needles into my lower abdomen to pull out endometriotic fluid for biopsy.
I screamed no more. The last set of tears still rolling down my cheeks. And as I feared, my Dad was right there outside the room in tears. But I remember. He spoke to me that day for the first time in eighteen months. “Was it you?”, he had asked. I felt like I had woken up from a trance.
And because I had held on to my tears for longer than required, I broke down inconsolably when I first held my firstborn close to my chest. That cry was not out of pain as the doctor stitched me up. It was all those tears that I had held up for consoling others. I had allowed them to flow for hours much to the curiosity of my mother and the nurses around. I cried because I no longer wanted to live with those tears. I wanted to let them go. I wanted to truly rejoice the birth of a new life I was responsible for.
I had promised myself that day that I will not let this happen to her. I will not let her stop her tears because she has to care for any of us. But I failed myself. I do ask her many times to stop crying for fear that she might catch a cold. For fear that her head will ache. For fear that her throat will dry up. For fear that she may throw up. For fear that she will get more hurt.
Strong girls do not cry!
Strong girls do cry. Strong girls should cry.
In fact, everyone should cry when they feel like and not hold onto the grief. There is no point holding on because you’re still crying within. You’re not letting it out. The pain doesn’t go away unless you give it an outlet.
I had written multiple diaries thinking that it will help me let the pain go. It didn’t. In fact, the written word kept it alive. Every time I saw or remembered them, it hurt. And so, I have burnt most of them. The ones with sorrowful memories. The ones with memories of friendship lost. The ones with people who have hurt me like no one else. The ones that has made me scared of getting friendly with most people. Burning them has actually helped. Every page that got burned and every word that blew up helped me forgive the person, the situation and above all, myself. You must cry. It helps get rid of pain. It helps forgive. It helps get rid of negativity. It helps control our temperament.
My man spoke to me at length the other day and I thank him for doing that. And as promised to him, I forgive every single person who hurt me, including myself. I am human. And so I failed. I failed myself more than anyone else. I always thought I was sensible. But I had chosen to be senseless and lost precious friendships to gossip-mongers. I regret. But, I have to move on. I have to move on for myself and for others. Nobody can be blamed for the same mistake for longer than required. We must move on. We must forgive. We must help ourselves heal.
A big thanks to Sridevi Datta whose words made me open up to myself and acknowledge what hurt within.
The problem with us humans is that we get entangled in the web of life and relationships. And in the race to maintain relationships, we forget to care for ourselves. It is easy to lend a listening ear to a friend or a family member. But it is difficult to acknowledge that some days we need an ear or a shoulder too.
And now on when a friend cries, I will let them cry. I will help them let go. I won’t say, “Don’t cry. Strong girls don’t cry.”