“Stop obsessing over your son,” hubby dearest chided me. “He is 10 now. He can take care of himself. How long will you continue to hover over him like this? If he is more than 10 minutes late, you call the driver, if I am 10 minutes late, you start calling me, and sending me messages. It was ok as long as it was me, but now at least spare the poor child.” The sermon seemed never ending! He said a lot of other things, which my mind did not even register. Yea, I have this innate ability to selectively hear things and screen out what I don’t want to hear!
The situation in question was an impending trip to Kanyakumari with the school karate team. As in the past three years, I had flatly refused to send him anywhere out of town, on his own. Hubby had not taken very kindly to my refusal this time. I didn’t want an argument, so I did what I do best in such situations; I walked to my room leaving the conversation hanging in mid air and hubby throwing up his arms in despair.
How unkind! Obsessing wasn’t even the right word! This word was being used too often nowadays, and it certainly wasn’t making me feel comfortable. As if hearing this term from my hubby wasn’t enough, a dear friend said so in as many words. He felt my constant need to keep communicating was suffocating. I don’t know when my son will begin using that term!
I know what ails me, of course I do. I have been living with it practically all my life, so my actions are quite rational to me at least! I have been contemplating talking to these people about it but this has never been a topic I have wanted to talk about. How do I explain that I wasn’t obsessing, it was not even just concern; it was something deeper, something more rooted in my subconscious….it was fear.
I must have been about 12 or 13. It was the day of the result after the final exam. I remember it was the 7th of May. I had fared quite well and had been excited to share the news with my closest friend, N, who lived a couple of streets away. I remember that I wore a green polka dot skirt and matching top. I told my mom and hopped to my friend’s place that afternoon. As I climbed the steps to her apartment, I saw that a lot of people had gathered there, and even more in my friend’s house. I tried to get in the house but an uncle stopped me. He told me, “Beta, go home and tell daddy that G uncle has passed away.” G uncle was my friend N’s dad.
I remember feeling shocked and scared at the same time. Death was not something I had dealt with before. I remember running back home debating with myself if I should tell dad ‘the news’. I remember seeing dad watching TV. I remember running to him and sitting on his lap holding on to him like a baby monkey would hold on to its parent. I also remember not telling him ‘the news’ at all. I didn’t want him to go and see G uncle. I was terrified that something would happen to him if he did. He read the news in the obituary the next day and was sad that he couldn’t go see his friend one last time. And I remember being anxious wondering what he would say if he knew I was aware and had not told him. Luckily that never happened.
It has been more than 20 years since that day, but every detail is so vividly printed in my mind like it was yesterday. It is surprising, since I am quite an absent minded and forgetful person. I am the kind who walks to the refrigerator to take out something and forgets what it was as soon as I open the door. So to remember an event that happened 20 years ago, for every day of my life after it happened is nightmarish to say the least.
People have strange fears and some of them are quite irrational too. This event happened so long back when I was just a child but it left a lasting fear of losing a loved one in my mind.
At that time dad worked with a bank and was quite active in theater. So after banking hours, he and his team would gather for rehearsals and he would often return home late at night. I remember always being anxious till he came home. I remember never sleeping a wink till I saw him back home safe. I was always the one to open the door whether he came home at 1 or 2 pm. When the bus he was travelling in turned turtle near Shiridi during one such tour for a drama competition, I remember being distraught to the point of being delirious till we heard that he was well. And then I shifted to a new city, got married and found a new family but the anxiety to know that he is ok never left me. I call dad at least once or twice a day to keep checking on him.
With marriage, the anxiety spread to my hubby. Hubby’s works calls for late nights too and the anxiety over his well being got added to my already tense mind. Hubby has often wondered aloud why I have to keep messaging him every hour to know when he will be back and to know if he is ok. I didn’t know how to explain it to him.
My elder one is on that list too. He is a black belt in karate, and has won several awards in local competitions, but when his karate master requested me to send him to a tournament outside the city, I panicked. I refused to send him citing his young age. I have been citing the same reason for three years now and master was quite angry with me when he said, ‘It is because of mothers like you that talented kids like your son will not prosper.’ It hurt me to be spoken to like this, but I haven’t changed my stand yet. With mounting pressure from my son to send to send him to the competition this year, I am already panicking. If his school van is late by 10 minutes, I keep calling the driver to find out why the delay happened.
Oddly, I am not plagued by this fear when it comes to my mom or sister or even my little one! I cannot understand why that is so! Apart from these 3 men, there are two of my closest friends, whom I’m anxious about all the time. One of them is a 17 year old friend, D, and the other is S, someone I know just since 3 years. Why the fear is selective, I have no answer. My friend of 17 years,who is more like a brother I never had, just lost his mother and I was worried sick if he was ok. I was calling him every waking hour.
I have this constant urge to know that all is well with these 5 men in my life. So I have to keep communicating with them and not getting a response makes me miserable.
Dad is of course a sweetheart; he loves to hear from me anytime of the day, and never minds how often I call him. But the other four are quite the opposite. While hubby is quick to show his irritation at being sent so many messages every day, the elder one cannot understand why mommy has to be so unreasonable. And S even told me that my constant need to keep communicating makes him feel trapped.
I just hope I don’t have additions on this list. I cannot bear to keep worrying myself sick about more people. And I cannot bear the thought that these men think I’m obsessing over them or I’m possessive. I’m not! I also hope these men read this post and know that I’m waging a battle with myself every day, trying to be sane yet losing my mind and sleep over them. I wish they’d show me some love and let me know they are OK. Communication is my only medicine and by denying me that they drive me insane!