Your Life Is Not A Failure.


Do you sometimes think that your life is a failure? Is that really so?

I met Sumathy akka after many years. She was not really my sister. I just called her akka or sister, out of respect.

When I was newly married, I was a tenant at her house. I lived on the ground floor in the front portion of her big house and she lived in the apartment behind mine, with her mother and three sons. Two other families lived on the first floor.

I got introduced to her at a vulnerable period in her life. She had just lost her husband a few months earlier. She was terribly depressed and refused to come to terms with her loss.

I was newly married, and completely naïve (make that ignorant) about cooking and housework.

At first she just stared silently as I struggled with my chores. She could look into my kitchen from the common washing area that we shared.girl-with-kitchen-things-10083162

I was a comedienne of sorts and a chatterbox. I made digs at myself as I went about my work and slowly I was able to draw her into my conversation.

Soon she was giving me tips and helping me out. We became good friends even though there was an age difference of 20 years between us.

Her mother told me one day, her eyes brimming with tears:

“I thank my Gods that they sent you here. My daughter would have wasted away but for your company.”

I stayed in that house for five years and then we were on our way to other cities where my spouse’s work took him.

But when I came to Chennai, I would drop in at the lovely house where I began my married life, to catch up with Sumathy Akka and her sons.

She was proud of the way her sons had turned out. At that time, her first son had married well and she was deliriously happy.

The years rolled by and it was only after ten years that I was able to visit her again.

But this time she was back in square one.

dead-and-dry-tree-is-isolated-on-white-background-100141279Depressed and unhappy!

Just like the first time I had met her.

She was not living in the big house. She had remodeled the garage at the back into living quarters for her self. I was shocked to see her in such sorry confines.

“My life is a failure,” she said as I sat sipping her filter coffee.


I spluttered the hot beverage by the suddenness of her statement.

“I lost my husband when I was 38 years old.  I struggled to get my sons educated.”

“You did a good job of that. I am sure your kids are proud of you.”

“My first son and his family have converted to another religion. “

She mentioned the religion by name.

“I am still a Hindu and they do not want me to worship my Gods in the house. That is why I live here alone by myself.”

“You could move in with your other sons.” I said, trying to be wise. “Where are they?”

“My second son started a business and met with colossal loss. He was even imprisoned for some time. Now he lives in another city and refuses to talk to me. His wife rings me up sometimes, wanting to know what we were going to do with this house, which my sons will inherit after me.”

“What about your third son?”girl-eating-food-with-chopstick-10067550

“He is in Singapore. He has married a Chinese girl.” She said. “I stayed with them for a few days. But she eats fish, prawns and chicken every day. You know I am a total vegetarian.”

“My life is a failure.” She said again and I did not know what to reply.

When it was time for me to leave, I pacified her:

“What your sons make of their life is their problem, not yours. The world has changed so much. Converting one’s religion or marrying a girl from another ethnic community or being a failure at business is not a big crime, you know.  You just keep thinking so.”

Seeing her woe-be-gone face, I started babbling.

“Your life is NOT a failure… You are a grand old lady… You did the best that you could for your sons…now it is time to live life on your terms…enjoy your grand children…make peace with your errant son… visit Singapore again and teach your Chinese daughter-in-law, your vegetarian culinary delights…”

Did I not say that I was a comedienne of sorts and a chatterbox?

She gave a wee smile at my outpouring and walked me to the gate.

I hope I was able to cheer her up.

A little at least.

Just like I did, many years ago.

Story By : AN. Written By; Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

By Ohmmy3d,  

By debspoons,

By digitalart,

By tratong,

This entry was posted in Sometimes Sad, We Indians! and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Your Life Is Not A Failure.

  1. foziasaeed says:

    Success isn’t always shown with a big house, fancy car and lots of money. The older lady in the story had raised three boys as a single parent, the path her children have taken is by their own choice.
    I hope she was able to go to Singapore and get to know her daughter in law and speak with all her sons again.

  2. Alyssa Al Alawi, UAE says:

    Thank you for coming back with this beautiful and touching story. I have recommended your site to all my colleagues and although they may not be leaving their comments I must inform you that I get great feedback from them and some have asked me to convey their delight at your stories. Looking forward to your next instalment.

  3. Shantini says:

    A touching story. Reading it left me feeling so sad. all the more fascinating since all the stories are true.

  4. Naushad Ali Basheer Ahamed says:

    Hi Mum,

    I must say this your best post yet…. very touching….very very touching. A little bit of chicken soup for the soul.

    Someone else above had commented about the measure of success. I quite agree with them.

    What was more heartening is the fact that the story teller – had the puck to say – “Its that time in you life where you LIVE life in your own terms”

    – Live – gather more memories and take them with us for ever.

    I’m reminded about a little something from the Harry Potter series….. Do you know why the Dementors go for you soul and not your life ….

    What are we but for our memories …. take that away and we are but flesh with moving parts.

    We setup reminders for loads of things everyday …. but we should setup an everyday reminder to LIVE – not just exist ….. the day we decided to Exist and not Live is the day we died.

    ::: Love :::


  5. TBM says:

    Wow. She’s been through a lot. I have to agree success isn’t measured by wealth, but by how we live our life. Memories are with us forever.

  6. A. Thayub Ali Zubin says:

    I really felt sad that not even one of her sons took the responsibility of taking care of their mother! But as far as the individual decisions are concerned the lady could not do much about what her sons decided to do out of their lives. But personally I feel the mother should give in a little bit on her sons as he has to please 2 ladies now, his wife and his mother on a 60%/40% ratio repectively. So obviously all what you think will not go your way! But now she should put aside all that happened and and try to make the most of what’s left in her life! Cheers!!!

  7. Sharon says:

    The lady successfully raised her sons as a single parent and gave them the tools to be financially successful. What they did with their lives after they had left the nest was in their own hands. From what I can see she was a good mother and a good person. If the sons chose to take a wrong path it was not because of her upbringing. They were grown men who took those decisions. I wish she would not think of herself as a failure.

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