I Try To Die, So You Can Live.

Yesterday, Maryam told me about dropping out of her Masters Degree Program. For a second, for that tiny little bit of a second, I paused, hoping that it wasn’t what I was thinking, except that it was.

There was the baby, she said. And the older one who was going through puberty. And there was the husband who wanted to try a new business. There was going to be little time between shuffling school, the house, and supporting the husband.

But it was alright, I told her. It was family. And it was only a sacrifice we knew too well. The art, the ability to shrink just enough, so everyone else blossoms. So I helped her plan, because what we fear is to shrink too much that it becomes probable to just wither. So maybe the degree when the kids were able to stand, and the husband had just the right time, and energy to let her get the degree she had wanted since forever. It was okay.

Because you see, Mama did it. And maybe she would have had it easier than most women. But she started to want to breath just a little. She just wanted, that since the last of her kids could walk on its own, she would finally own a farm. She seemed genuinely happy in those days. Back bent, weeding, planting, supervising. She even made profit on the first year. Except, she forgot her ultimate reason of existence, to cultivate a person she had chosen to spend her life with. She left him at home, all day, the poor retired man that was our father. She left him with the niece. The niece was to help with the chores, because she had to go to school, and father had to pay for her school, and it was only logical for her to return the favor in chores. And because house helps came with the ability to steal fathers and good husbands. And because father didn’t want to get someone who would steal him from mother, and from us.

What didn’t occur to Father however, was the niece could steal him too. Especially since mother was doing such a poor job babysitting him, what with the time at the farm and little time at home, well the niece decided to gift us a sister. The wicked little niece, and the non present wife and the poor husband. The poor husband who just wanted to be good to his family.

So I got it. Maryam didn’t want to be that away wife. Or the nagging wife. Or the wife who couldn’t give a little of herself. It was just that, it felt like a little of oneself, over a long stretch of time meant a lot of oneself was lost. It just felt like a great loss that I didn’t want to consider. Because although it felt a lot selfless, my brain couldn’t wrap around how truly possible it was, for one person to let go of so much, and be truly happy with it. But they tell me it is how it has always been.

So they say to get married, to have kids, to find joy in family, to be this incredible thing, the centre of the universe of other beings. Except, the core, the centre of a thing is always hidden, somewhere buried. And to keep a living, breathing thing, locked in a background, at the centre of all these people blocking its light, yet drawing its essence, was to sentence that thing to death. And was it fair? To live like that? And who decided that Mother, Maryam and I, had to be the ones to learn to breath only after the others had?

I should have told Maryam to take on her Masters, and let everyone fend for themselves. To open her nostrils and let air really go into them and flow out from her pores. Maybe that way, I could have comforted myself with hope. With the kind of hope that came with owning the right to being happy, without the responsibility of carrying a birth- long duty to die.


Writer. Muslim. Chocolate Chaser.

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