A lot of people ask me whether I write a diary. I always respond with a smile and a polite “No”.
“But why not? If you can write a blog, then why not a diary?” they ask.
The answer lies in a story. A story that embarrasses me but one which I am willing to share because its mine to tell. And thanks to Robyn for her post which prompted me to do so!
I have always wanted to write a diary since I was ten (from the time I heard about the Anne Frank story). However my procrastination beat my inspiration and I never got around to do it.
Soon enough I turned thirteen. Like any other girl out there I too had my first crush. And like most girls at that time, I did not even dare to drop any hints. A whole month passed and nothing changed, except that I got myself a diary. 😀
Needless to say, I called the diary by the boy’s name. Every entry in it started off as “Dear B” and sometimes if I felt happy I would even draw hearts on the pages. (I know!) 😀
Things went fine for about half a month. I kept writing in the diary and my crush just grew bigger with each day.
It is pitch black darkness. I wake up to feel a hand stroking my hair. For a moment my body stills, then relaxes as I realize it is Amma checking on me like she does every night. But today, something is different.
She sits down by my bed and continues to stroke my hair.
“Hey..” she says slowly knowing that I have stirred.
Being too lazy to speak I hum in response.
“Everything okay with you?” she asks.
“Yeah yeah.. Go back to sleep, Ma.” I say as I pull the covers up closer to me.
“Things are well at school?”
“Of course.. Please let me sleep.”
For a few moments Amma does not say anything.
“Who is B?” she asks slowly.
I freeze in bed. In the dark she cannot see my face. But my eyes are wide open and my heartbeat accelerates.
“What do you mean by that?” I hear myself ask and I know it sounds more defensive that it should.
“Nah.. I was just curious that’s all..” I hear the amusement in her voice.
However, I have no idea what she expects me to say.
“He’s in my class alright..” I blurt out finally.
“Oh okay.. I found your diary today” she informs quietly.
“Its not what you think, Ma.” I reply weakly.
“Shh.. Just go to sleep..” she says. With that she strokes my hair and kisses my cheek.
Then tucks me in and leaves the room. And I just lie there in the dark; feeling whatever it was that I felt.
To sleep after what had just happened, was she kidding me? I was wide awake. My heart pounding so loud that I could hear it in my ears. I felt a wave of emotions surge through me.
I was ashamed and angry all at once. Ashamed because Amma had found out something I had kept a secret. Given the surroundings I was born and brought up in, I did not know if crushing on someone was okay. Nobody had told me whether it was right or wrong to feel the way I did. All I had heard in thirteen years of existence was disapproval for girls who eloped with men they loved; stories of unhappiness and misery, of shame they caused to their families.
“Well you haven’t eloped and you are still here – in your bed, under Appa’s roof,” I told myself.
“But what if Amma thinks I’m falling out of track?” I wondered. (Yes, I used to worry about disappointing my parents.)
“Then that’s her problem! Not yours!!” my alter ego answered.
And then at some point, my frustration turned into anger.
Amma had no business reading my diary. She did not respect my privacy. Maybe I was not an adult then, but was I not entitled to my personal space?!
When I was not writing a diary, I had told her infinite examples about how my best friend’s mother never read her diary; about how my friend could trust her mother to leave things out on the dining table and come back to find them untouched.
Why couldn’t my mother do that? My friend was going out with boys. I did not do that. She would flirt all around school. And still her mom never read her diary!
Here I was, playing the angel and I couldn’t command as much respect? From my own mother?
I don’t remember when I fell asleep that night. All I remember is waking up feeling tired the next day morning.
I did not go to get my coffee from the kitchen like I did everyday morning. I lay there on my bed wondering how to face Amma.
It wasn’t fear or anger but sheer embarrassment. This was not something I wanted to discuss like buying a new dress or getting a haircut.
Besides, I would never forgive her for breaching my trust and reading my precious diary. As I phrased clever statements for my heated arguments with Amma (which I assumed would start soon), the alarm started blaring.
The moment I switched it off and sat up on my bed, I was surprised to see Amma standing there leaning against the doorframe with a grin on her face.
Before I could say anything she asked me playfully, “Good nap?”.
That was the first and last time I wrote a diary. Now this might seem very childish to you. But, I can never bring myself to believe that anything written down in a diary can ever remain private.
What makes me so sure? After we finished high school, when my friend came home one day she told me about how her mom had been lying all along. Her mom had read her diary cover to cover. But had refrained from saying anything least her daughter quit writing one altogether. I’m not going to lie now – I felt extremely happy to learn that! 😀
Anyway not writing a diary doesn’t mean I’ll take my secrets to the grave with me. I share them with real people around me. People who can give me shocked reactions, empathise with what I say, tell me if I was right or wrong, guide me to be a better person. Even better, they bring people closer to me because they realise that they know something the rest of the world doesn’t.
More to say later. Cheers! 🙂