Loneliness holds different meaning for different people. I realized it often in the course of time. You might be surrounded by hundreds of people, and still feel alone. You can be with your partner, with whom you’ve spent half of your life, and the vacuum persists.
I’ve seen the longing in the eyes of the aged couples who are left behind by their children, settled in different cities. On the contrary, I have also seen people who will be physically present in a gathering of twenty, but still be missing someone. This can be another example of loneliness. Your heart isn’t just ready to accept the situation just because someone whom you love is not with you. Children at times feel lonely, if their friends don’t value them or involve them in games equally as they do with others. But, nothing can equate the agony of a woman who wishes to be a mother and dreams day and night to feel the pleasure of having her baby close to her.
Back in time, when I was interning in one of the media companies during my college days, I made good friends with one of my colleagues who were married. I was younger to her and probably then could not really understand her as much as I can now. I had all the ears for her and some consoling words were always ready to comfort her. She desperately wanted to be a mother!
Yes, she was one of the ladies I have met so far who had all the femininity in the world. I used to wonder, how amazingly she could strike a balance between her personal and professional life. When you would see her at work, you would not know how much of pain she has within. And, there was none with whom she could share. So, how she started sharing with me is a different story. For now, I could just say that we became good friends over a period of time and she was more comfortable talking to me as I was not a part of the gang of girls who love gossiping.
She was 29 and in four years of marriage. I used to call her Mann. Starting from the issues in a marriage to her endless love for children and willingness to have one, she discussed everything. May be, I served to be a good listener to her and that was one of the reasons for why I was close to her. Moreover, she was not the one to discuss anything with anyone and everyone. She was one of the most positive and hopeful woman I have ever met. She saw tremendous struggles in her life; lost her mother when she was a child, her father married another woman; she was married not by her choice of course. She got a flavor of domestic violence too right after her marriage. I remember telling her in ferocity to complain about her husband, reach out for woman helpline, but this lady always wanted to give time saying that all marriages have adjustment issues initially, things will improve with time. I could see hope in her then and I see hope in her now.
Now, she’s almost 40. I met her accidentally in one of the markets in Delhi. She was engrossed in buying some fabrics, laces, and buttons. Ensuring that it’s her, I said, “Excuse me, Mann is it you?” The moment she heard me, she turned around and we had an outburst of happiness. We sat in a coffee shop to catch up with all the missing events in between and the whereabouts. That’s when I got to know that she runs a boutique, separated with her husband after 10 years of struggle and runs a NGO for children. I felt proud to have known and met such a lady in my life. Today she is strong, confident; meddling with her dreams, but despite all that, when she was describing it all to me there was something missing. I could see in her eyes the loneliness not because she parted from her husband, but because those plenty of children in the NGO she owns cannot replace the feeling of being a mom. I knew she wanted to say more and talk endlessly, which she did in a rather different manner.
“I want to feel the skin of my baby, give warmth and hold those tiny hands. I want to see how he/she would look. I know it will happen only when the right time comes.” Mann used to say with undeterred hope. That right time never came but those words echo in my ears till date.