A Woman Called Sneh

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Her name was Sneh* and she tried to BE Sneh.

What had she to show for the effort to BE Sneh? Nothing really. Or perhaps that isn’t quite accurate. She did have a failed marriage and a string of other failed bonds- daughter, mother, sister and friend. Her record was faultless and consistent. She simply did not know how to process love. She neither knew how to give, nor how to take. What a terrible sin…!

Her name was Sneh and she tried to BE Sneh.

She had always been an independent little beast. She was too much of a rebel in addition to being impossibly opinionated- and vociferous. Like all rebels, she was idealistic. The idealism is not a bad thing in itself actually, as long as it is kept hidden and not thrown in people’s faces. You aren’t supposed to be unconcerned with people’s expectations of you. You are certainly not expected to make that lack of concern obviously visible. There is nothing that enrages people more… nothing that makes them resent you more. The very things that you love most about yourself- the things you feel give you the right to use the word ‘brilliant’ for yourself- are the things they hate about you. Or maybe they hate it that you KNOW you are brilliant. Brilliance gets polished when treated with abrasive independence, turning it into a mirror. She never understood that she could never be forgiven for BEING a mirror that has no power to lie.

Her name was Sneh and she tried to BE Sneh.

After her marriage ended she knew for sure that there was something intrinsically wrong with her. The deck was stacked against her. In a fit of rebellious belief in her own brilliance, she decided she would change herself. She devoured books on how to be tactful about her brilliance. She tried to learn how to camouflage her sparkle; hiding it like a disreputable vice. She tried to conform, to bend low so she would not tower about those around her. She cut the tendons in her instep so she would not run past those around her- even when she was standing still. Thick glasses covered her visionary eyes, earplugs sealed her ears, a face mask covered her nose. She hung heavy weights from her tongue so it wont wag too easily. Yes, she wanted to BE Sneh that badly.

But it never works, does it? After all your precautions, you find that the camouflage paint simply peels off you in the slightest breeze. And your incomparable mind teaches you how to circumvent the other impediments as if they did not exist. What you never realized was that for you, dealing with stifling impediments was as normal as breathing. No, it didn’t work. Despite all the elaborate methods of wiping herself out of existence, she shone through irrepressibly, refusing to be wiped out. All the process managed to accomplish is to make her shine brighter and stronger than ever.

She decided to forget trying to BE Sneh. She told herself that BEING Sneh would be forever denied to her. Other people will have it, not she. She told herself that this was the price she had to pay for her independence. She never acknowledged, even to herself, that she was lonely. She decided to concentrate on her work. She tried hard to be happy, to accept what she knew would never happen. When she found that a single soul-sucking WHY would never permit happiness, she made a compromise with herself. She kept her tainted self- with its futile whys and its gnawing hunger of wanting to BE Sneh- hidden behind a false cheerfulness. She managed to get away with it… because there was no one close enough to look into her eyes and discover the sham. Only, she never forgot the sham despised herself for living a lie every moment of her life.

Her name was Sneh and she had tried to BE Sneh. And she had failed.

And then HE came. He? Yes, he… you know… the ONE? When he came he wasn’t the ONE. He was just one of the many people she met and parted with in the course of her days. She had always fought shy of people, refusing to let them come close. She was adept at putting up walls around her in record time. She forbid herself any chance of BEING Sneh. She had shut herself up inside her transparent bubble- made of an impregnable resolve. She could not forget or forgive that…

Her name was Sneh and she had tried to BE Sneh. But she had failed.

She didn’t get time to put up the walls fast enough this time. He stormed into her life. Three days was all it took. Later when she looked back on it, she was astounded. Those three days seemed like a lifetime. One minute he was on the outer-most periphery of her consciousness. The next thing she knew he had taken over. Taken over..? Yes… he took over… mind and body, heart and soul. It was as if she had been waiting for him all along. It was unnerving. The many layers of protection she had buried herself under, melted away like the sun’s rays melt away fragile wisps of mist clinging to dawn’s glowing pink cloak.

She had never met anyone who answered her questions two steps before she thought of asking them… never met anyone who matched her appetite for life… or was as full of contradictions as she was. Their talk was something no one could have made head or tail of. They were constantly jumping ahead of each other knowing what was going to be said next and responding to that. He was the most life giving person she had met. Her resolve burst into a million tiny, glittering shards.

For the first time in her life, she felt alive. She was allowed to be as brilliant as she naturally was. She no longer had to hide it as a guilty secret, to slow her pace so that the man wouldn’t feel stupid. She no longer had to impose a death on herself by pretending to be dully predictable and safely ordinary. What do they call it? Normal? Yes. Is there any word more hateful than that? To ask a woman like her to be normal was as pointless as asking the sun to become as brilliant as a light bulb..!

At last she met someone who was so strong he didn’t feel threatened by her strength. On the contrary, he appreciated the challenge. He didn’t treat her like a dumb woman. She felt secure in his respect for her. What an ordinary thing it is… to have someone treat you as an equal. It transforms from being ordinary to a precious, sparkling gift when you have been parched for it all your life. Then, when you get it, it feels as if the heavens have gently opened and have let forth life-giving rain to quench your parched soul. Her soul danced, every fiber of her being was steeped in a joy that defied description. She felt clean and light… no longer carrying the burden of another’s breath-sucking, mind-numbing expectation. He had set her free.

She had learned that Sneh grows in an atmosphere- not of mere acceptance- but of celebration of an individual’s uniqueness. Then she know why she had failed to BE Sneh. It was because she had never known what Sneh was… had no experience of it…!

Her name is Sneh… and she IS  Sneh- now.

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* a common female name in India, meaning loving affection.

Originally written~ 23rd Aug 2008.

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4 thoughts on “A Woman Called Sneh

  1. namitasunder

    I feel I know Sneh….Thank God She met Him and she let herself be.”celebration of an individual’s uniqueness…..’summed very nicely.Trying to get accepted by others by moulding oneself according to other’s acceptance is so suffocating and the outcome is……na maya mili na ram.

    namita

    Reply
    1. Serenely Rapt Post author

      Namita,

      I think we all know a Sneh. A bit of her breathes in us all.

      There are some people, I am sure you have met them too… for whom the acceptance of another is more important than anything else. They would go to any lengths to get that approval. I suppose that’s where the term ‘bending over backwards’ has come from… 🙂

      Such a pleasure to see you here… as always. Thank you,
      Dagny

      Reply
  2. Rajlakshmi

    ohh your words… Gawd!! I have fallen in love with them… they way you have narrated the story … the expressions… the turmoil of a girl desperately trying to be someone she is not… it’s brilliant. I am sure many would be able to relate to this. So glad that I read this 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      Raklakshmi,

      Thank you for reminding me of this story. It was written so long ago that I had forgotten it. I am pleased you could connect with the story. I guess there is a bit of Sneh in all of us. 🙂

      Reply

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