Life is a paradoxAt that moment her entire world had changed and yet nothing around her had changed for anyone.
“Ma’am, Do you live alone?”
“Yes. Is anything serious?” Sneha asked.
“Are you here with a family member?” the doctor asked.
“I have come here alone. My husband passed away two years ago and I don’t have children,” replied Sneha.
Sensing Sneha’s anxiousness, the doctor tells Sneha solemnly, “Ma’am, I am so sorry but you will have to be strong now. You are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”
Sneha understood this disease as a slow poison that would take away her memories and will make even her forget herself. Her hands trembled. Every word of consolation from the doctor merely turned into a murmur. She left the room with a very heavy heart and decided to take a walk to her home.
It was a beautiful spring day and nature was at its best. Kathmandu was beautifully decorated with colourful flowers. You could find every shade of bougainvillea and the purple Jacarandas were in full bloom. Everywhere around her, she saw happy people. This world was so beautiful and colourful but her world was gloomy and dark. At that moment her entire world had changed and yet nothing around her had changed for anyone.
She was alone amidst hundreds of people. Neither anybody knew her nor did anyone care. She was walking towards her home but unaware of where her life was taking her.
She spent her week arranging money for her medications. Her doctor arranged a treatment centre and an old age home where she was supposed to spend her life from then onwards. After a week of acting strong, she decided to write a diary to herself hoping that she could read it or at least somebody would read it to her and she could relive her life.
Doctors say that I am diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I am in my initial phase. They say I should be strong but they underestimate my capabilities of staying positive during difficult times.
I decided to write in this diary so that I can reflect back on the wonderful and blissful life I have had. This diary is a memoir and a happy piece of memory.
I am content remembering that in my life, I have had one true love, a happy family and a very reputed career. I still remember the day I first met him. Our parents had arranged it for us. He was able to create a first strong impression. This handsome man dressed up so neatly in a blue shirt and black pants. He was a stunner and very stylish as per the fashion standards of those days. He was this ball of energy whereas I was the shy one. We met at a cafe and I remember the way he was trying to woo me. Back then people would turn their heads when a man would give a woman a rose but he gave me the whole bouquet. He was such a gentleman and I was already head over heels in love with him.
It took me a while to express my love for him whereas he would just not stop expressing how much he loved me. I felt like the luckiest girl out there. He was much more than what I had asked for. My decision of marrying him was the best decision of my life. The day we got married is my favourite memory. Given an opportunity, I would relive that moment over and over again.
All it mattered for him was my happiness. After a few years, we realised that we could not have a baby together. When our society was okay with him marrying another woman for the sake of having a baby, he held my hand. He told me that our relationship was more precious to him than having a baby. He was with me through thick and thin. I could not have asked for more from life.
I always wanted to be a dancer and he did everything he could to make sure I thrive in my career. I have lived the best life I could dream of. They say nature always tries to maintain balance. Maybe not having a child of our own and getting this disease is nature’s way of striking balance between the happiness he gave. Thus, I have no complaints.
Things are tough now, but I have been strong enough as I promised to be. I only have to thank life for giving me love and happiness.
When you realise that you don’t have many sane moments, you have to create your own bubble of happiness. You have to create your own story and tell it to yourself till you yourself start believing in it. Life had not been as fair to her as she had written in her diary. Her fairytale was not true. She had her dreams and aspirations but society said marriage was more important. She got married to an unknown person but he was a good and educated man, as per society. The consent of her parents was termed as her consent to get married.
The entire story of a man wearing a blue shirt and black pants trying to woo her was merely a facade she created for herself. Young Sneha was married when she could not grasp the changes around her. Everyone around her expected her to be a nice and quiet girl, which she managed to become. She was quiet because by now she knew she would have to give up on her dreams of becoming a dancer.
Her husband, Samar, seemed mysterious to her. He would not talk much but gradually they got along together. Time had brought them together and she had enjoyed happiness with him. One evening, she told him that she wanted to be a dancer and he laughed at that idea of hers. She tried to convince him of her dreams but he said you should be taking care of this home and his parents rather than daydreaming. That day, she lost all her hope. She wanted to just go away but she had nowhere to go. Society said that women should compromise and she obeyed. She was not weak or fragile but then the norms were so strong that she had to kneel. She had compromised on her dreams. Although it was the gender-stereotypical norms of society, she blamed herself: her dreams were the reasons for her heartbreak.
She respected her husband but the respect was not mutual, for when he used to get drunk, he thought hitting her was okay. This came as a shock to her but then society justified his actions. It said, “Taking care of the economy is not easy on men. Women should rather take proper care of him because he is more stressed.” Sneha compromised and repeated this to herself every single time; she became his punchbag.
Sneha decided to work and upon declaring her decision, she got hit again. This time society said, “Don’t you dare propose such things. It is high time you start thinking of having a baby and becoming a good mother.” There was justification for every single thing he did. She succumbed to all those justifications.
Then she found out she could not have a baby. This was a big blow to her. She was deeply saddened and even contemplated ending her life. She grieved for herself and society decided that she was a disappointment for her family. It said that Samar should consider marrying another woman. In this case, Samar disagreed with society and society applauded his decision as kindness towards his wife. Her family would taunt her for not being able to give them a baby and this was again justified by society. She had lived her life that way, compromising and yet smiling.
Sneha’s life is considered a normal one for a woman. Society considers it normal to succumb to gender stereotypical roles, normal to let go of your ambitions, normal to get hit by your husband. These things have been so common in every other woman's life that we term it “normal”.
For Sneha, Alzheimer’s became an opportunity to forget her life that society had deemed normal. This became her chance to forget all she had endured and to make herself believe that her life had been exceptional. At those last moments of sanity, she decided to let go of her normal and embrace the facade she always wanted.