Should I be grateful to have been born?
As a tempestuous teenager who had a marvelous hate-hate relation with her mother, I’d often scream at her face, 'You did me no charity. Did you ask if I even want me to be born? It was for your pleasure, I got nothing of it.'
Or, ‘You know nothing of raising a child. If I have one, I’ll do a better job.’
Better or not, I’d tackle the task differently.
It took me some years, not till I was twenty-six precisely, that the total gravity of her sacrifice swam into my notion. Sacrifice is a wasted term in my cultural geography, a randomly over-utilised notion. The societal mechanisms teach us it is noble to sacrifice. We go to the brink of self-annihilation for other people’s contentment and convenience. We are taught to give up all that is comfortable and precious to us personally, so the mechanics of the human race can function smoothly around us. Some of us think nothing of this self-banishment. Others make it a point to glorify their extreme endeavour at keeping it going.
We will strengthen the circle at the cost of demolishing the centre.
The centre never holds, perpetually out of focus.
Since birth, we are told to find our reason for existence in another.
Sometimes it works – whenever I’ve sat down with the profit and loss sheet of my occurrence, found the balance screwed beyond all redemption, and the rare moments I have seriously questioned the efficacy of keeping up this elaborately painstaking and repetitively failing system (my life, in case you’re confused what system it is I speak of) two thoughts have kept me in existence, both of these outside my skin.
My dogs have surfaced in my inner eye. They would miss me terribly. They, in languages impenetrable to human reading, wouldn’t be able to explain their sorrow. Or understand why I needed to go missing. Even when I slept all day, delayed serving lunch, neglected to cuddle play or even look at them for hours on end, I was still a physical reality. I may have had failed myself, but they never failed me (no, not even the ones who ate the spine of a book or ran a teeth-hole through my favourite sweater.) In choosing to withdraw from the battle of daily sustenance I would be failing them, causing irrepairable confusing damage.
My thought at this point would veer to my human family, compatriots, comrades, co-sufferers, blissfully unaware of the conspiracy boiling in the dungeon of my mind. To have my dead body dealt with by a helpless mother or a forever desolated sister, or worse, to disappear without an explanation and address; for them never to know why, for them to be broken for the rest of their living days.
That, is not something you do to people you’ve ever loved.
That is betrayal.
Even when my family has maimed me with disgust, left trailing heirlooms of hurt, I have managed somehow to grit my teeth and bear it. I promised myself I would not stake my claim on my life as long as my mother was alive. Even today, when little love is lost between us, we are creatures from different planets who could never adjust to each other’s ways, or try, having to see my dead face was the one legacy I’d spare her, the last useless unspoken token of my gratitude, the ultimate.
God, it takes effort to not go away, to hold on. At times such irrational exertion one part of my brain can’t justify to the other.
But such is the stuff stubbornness is made of.
So how to warrant for my existence, when selfish reasons fail?
This is where the second chartable ground steps in. ‘Make your life mean something, make it worthwhile enough for another being, be of use to someone who really needs you, a homeless puppy, a severely injured dog that may need nursing. Imagine the difference you can cause, being that instrument of relief.’
Be that One, I ordered me.
Charity is a misnomer. If anything, my dogs have done me this huge charity: they have kept me alive. In concrete tangible terms, at a severely stressful juncture in life, I would wake up, leave bed and make a conscious struggle at carpe diem because someone else needed me to continue.
The Other. Can be and often is, our chief purpose of keeping on breathing.
For an extremely selfish being, finding a purpose to exist beyond my smug narcissist’s crust, was my unashamed crutch.
My faith in existentialism gets entrenched deeper with such discoveries. How another can affect me, so profoundly, that warring brains come to still, sense and reason of choice gets abandoned, my heels dig in…and I move beyond the moment of cause and effect.
As I migrate towards another attachment in life, yet another, that extreme detachment goes nowhere out of sight. I have a mountain calling me to die on its lap, an icy slope waiting. Waiting. It never lets me forget.
The day I am ready, I will go. My stubborn heart knows the aches it’ll leave behind, the disappointments, the hurt of betrayal; but my being knows how stubborn my spirit is.
But till it is time to go, I will go on...