THE ART OF FLOATING

I float. The surging waves incessantly whip my taut yet aging skin etching ravines. The vastness and emptiness of the swelling ocean surrounds me as far as I can see. Flawless blue all around…too perfect to be real. And I stay afloat…. not sinking…not seeking the shore…but perfecting the art of floating…I close my eyes, willing myself to be blind conjuring happy images, pressing my weight on my shoulder blades letting my head relax into the water as if I was resting my head on a pillow; arching my supple back, strutting my heaving chest, dangling my weary legs ……I stay afloat…getting better, every day, every moment.  At times when the sea blankets the sun, darkness surrounds and I gaze up the night sky and I see the countless stars shimmering, shining perfectly ….and I wonder could they also be floating like me in the vast sky ….

For a long time, I weighed the decisions of my life, seeing the pride beaming on my father’s face. I was cautious not to disappoint him after all like every young girl I too loved my father fanatically. This does not imply he was the best of the husbands but my mother was an exemplary lady who made sure we did not harbor any dislike for my father. When I reached adolescence my new-found self, sought new friends and experiences. Friends …most of whom I soon realized my father had no liking for. Like most fathers he saw them as a malady awaiting to blight his precious daughter and of course sway her from her steadfast path to success. Initially it was a struggle being yoyoed into pleasing my father and my friends. Eventually, I gave up on my friends. I quarantined myself from them and shrouded myself in isolation. I stopped making new friends in college because I knew I could never meet their demands. He was my Sun. He commanded my days and nights, summers and winters and my life revolved around him.  I failed him many times…like in my choice of profession and spent many guilt-ridden nights. But still he was a wonderful father, the best anyone could pray for, who professed his love for me every day and never did once grow tired of doing so. Years later, I excelled in my profession giving him some occasional moments of pride but deep-down uncertainty gnawed me and I always wondered if I was ever good enough for him. Did I ever live up to his expectation? He chose my marital alliance too. And to be just to him he did ask me of my preferences and did find someone who met those expectations or so he thought. When my marriage showed its first cracks, I resolved to walk away from it. But back home I saw my father shattered at the thought that he had let down his daughter. I decided to mend the cracks in the marriage and make things work. I buried my pride, compromised my likes and dislikes, altered my priorities all with the belief that in my successful marriage lay my father’s happiness and pride. For days and nights I have felt myself drowning in an overwhelming ocean of disappointment, frustration, apathy. I would struggle to keep myself afloat and wonder why I needed to do it. Wouldn’t be easier to just let go and sink ,..sink into the abyss…but the thought of my father would egg me to hold on….so I resolved to perfect the art of floating ….float in the wide ocean as long as I can ….my skin pruned …pallid ….waiting to bloat….rot….but I continued …

Some years back he passed away. Initially I was struck with fear knowing he is up there watching me. I felt stripped …I wondered if he can now see through all those fake smiles, nods and poised exchanges. The façade had fallen…and I was on my own. I had been a twiner with no direction or choice….and now I was a twiner with no tree to lean on or lead me on. Desolate, I limped. Those cracks that I had craftily swept under my posh carpet have widened. The ominous ocean threatens to swallow me. My brine puckered skin itches me. The harsh waves howl into my ears deafening me to madness. But I seem to have perfected the art of floating. Oh Yes I have …….or nearly so. Yet in those rare moments of sanity, I dream of the day….. I can swim ashore leaving all behind and molt these salts licked scars and feel my naked skin, the day I can hear my clear voice not muted by the deafening din …. the day I can touch the grains of sand , plant my feet firmly and rise my head high.

Till then….I stay afloat….perfecting the art of floating.

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