The Sorrowful Woman

I want to be free. I want to sit in my college-sweater and read to my heart’s content. But I don’t want to be alone. I want you with me. But not forever, no, not even all the time. The child looks happy. I wish he could understand what I was going through. He must see me as unnatural, the doll with no maternal instinct, stuck in a life people had planned for me.

My husband took me out the other day. He thought I was getting better. He called me a “cloistered queen”. I live in his tower, through no fault of mine. Or his.

I wish I could be alive.


The Sorrowful Woman is a third person short story about an ill woman. A mother and a wife, she gives hands over her duties to her husband. Their child, a young boy, is relegated to a nanny. The nanny feeds the child lunch, races with him to the mailbox, makes them all laugh, knits dresses for herself and plays chess with the husband. The wife asks for her removal. The husband changes his life to fit in household chores and the upbringing of the child. The woman absconds to the guest room, where she tries to write poetry and puts on personalities like sweaters. Spring comes. She sets herself to the Herculean task of a giant feast for her family, love sonnets for her husband and stories for her child. Once completed, she commits suicide.


My husband brings me a sleeping draft every night. It helps me sleep. Maybe he puts something in it, maybe his words are enough.

“You need a rest from us," he says.

I feel like the luckiest woman alive.

I hit my child the other day. I knew for a while that I was going to hit him. I wished I could think of him as something else than my son. A fairy prince with a sick mother. Or the most capable eight-year old in the world. The boy with the heart of a lion and the soul of a unicorn.

The nanny is capable. It does not surprise me that she has taken so intimately the roles I have shed. We are all brought up to be perfect in the train of life, completely unable to stop the train and call a destination home. Our sighs are knotted in scarves and thrown off in the rivers of dependency while we stand on the bridge of selfhood. The fleets of man know not to dive after these precious treasures. The sails blow in the wind, declaring more independence than our scarves ever could. We accept out fate as the figureheads at the prow, cemented till eternity.

Even though the train never stops in its tracks, we are pushed off from our seats to be put in our rightful places.


The sleeping draft is portrayed so inconspicuously that it becomes conspicuous. Why would a husband give his own wife medicine to make her sleep? Shouldn’t a doctor be involved? Or was it safer for the husband to save her face?

This reverse fairy-tale is about a woman driven mad by the society or by her family or maybe even by her own self. She hits her child, distances herself from her loving husband, brushes her hair and stays in the guest room of her own house before committing suicide. Her husband complies, remaining supportive throughout her self-exile. Her son could not care less.

The hysterical woman is, after all, married.

#RavneetKaurSandhu #hysteria