Maybe it has to do with being an only child, or perhaps those endless hours in hospital the first 15 years of my life, or simply the fear of being singled out in a negative way, but I find solace and comfort in corners. There is something about having two solid walls behind and beside me that offers me a false sense of security that is able to calm me down, for the most part.
Mind you, being in a corner and backed into a corner are two very different things, and believe me when I say that I have experienced both first-hand. The former, I do willingly, the second, well, I’ve learned to stand my ground. But there are days, oh there are days, when breathing becomes difficult and it becomes impossible to fight back the tears. I honestly don’t remember when I last – ever? – walked out of the office in tears and questioned my sanity. The irony of my situation is that I used to coach stress management, and I am brilliant at it on most days. There was a time when being pushed to do more, fight harder to get the top marks, make sure I end up on the honor roll, win the competition, or be the leader, was nothing out of the ordinary. I bowed my head in acquiescence. That is probably how I ended being a doormat and emotional punching bag.
In her mid-40s, my mother had reached the pinnacle of being a woman who would not keep her mouth shut and fight back, raise a fuss, and step in to defend a person or tear someone’s moronic behaviour apart. Then suddenly she mellowed after menopause and I wondered what on earth happened to my warrior mother. Choose your battles, she said, and rise above the rest. Not all fights have to be fought, and not everyone is worth your saliva. I stared at her in disbelieve. Excuse me? ! I retorted. Saliva? Surely she meant time. No. I had heard right. Keep your mouth shut and don’t allow yourself to be dragged into the mud, unless you feel strongly about it. Save your words for those who matter, with whom you are emotionally invested in. God I miss my mother so much.
So what’s my position these days? Post-menopausal serenity? I don’t think so. Abuse survivor more like it, and this is something I worked hard on the past three and a half years, coming to terms with what I have been through and how never to be pushed into a corner again.
Survival instincts of abuse victims are triggered by the smallest things, and most people never see it, only those who know what to look for.
Today’s photograph was was shot at the train station. These two women are seated on the top of these stairs every blessed morning. It is perhaps the most obnoxious place they could choose to sit together, especially given the fact that there are a lot of benches around the station to choose from. The first couple of weeks I muttered in annoyance to myself that this would never fly in Germany. But lately I’ve been looking at them with the greatest of envy, missing having a close friend to sit in a corner with. One of the fondest memories I have with a friend – MK this one is for you! – was sitting under a rusty hut in the middle of Sarojini market in Delhi with a good friend and adventure buddy MK, who never stands on ceremony. We had our piping hot chai, didn’t care about the smells, noise and dirt around or beneath us, we just sat together and talked about life and the world. So yes, any corner will do if you have the right person to simple BE.