She had always hated the word. Retreat. Such a shameful word. Bearable when it was temporary, a necessary break before the win, but retreating before an enemy because you cannot win, that wasa truly shameful loss. Coming from a long line of samurai, her Bushido was as rigid as it was ancient. To her, defeat in any sphere of life was an insult to her being. She had lived her life by the code, following it even in midst of rapidly changing eras. Yet here she was, defeated by the enemy no one could stand against. And so, finally, she had decided to come here. To this place, known simply as The Retreat.

It was a nice place. Beautiful, serene, peaceful. If only the name had not brought up those dormant feelings of defeat.

She knew it was irrational. Old age was not something to fight against. It was a natural process — proof of a life lived. She had aged gracefully, her soft white hair unmarked by dyes, her wrinkles unhindered by chemicals. All who saw her felt naught but respect for this titan. A woman who forged her way through a man’s world, and redefined the meaning of success. She was not egoistical, however she did feel a certain satisfaction in her life.

She had achieved respect, power, and money professionally and also been the wife of an incredible man, and the mother of two beautiful daughters. They had inherited her fire and she knew the empire she built would be safe in their hands. They loved her, and would gladly have taken care of her. Or she could just have stayed in her own house, there were plenty of people to ensure her comfort. And yet she decided to come here. To this place, because she believed it was time to leave behind that world. Standing here, she did not doubt her decision, even though a vague reluctantance slowed her steps.

She smiled reassuringly at her daughters. Both had wanted to ensure their mother would be safe and happy in this self inflicted exile. They had made it clear that they were both very unhappy with her decision, and even now, standing at the doorstep of her new home, they couldn’t help voicing their concern.

“We don’t understand why you have to come here Ma. Why?”

How could she answer that, when she barely knew herself? All she knew was, this felt right. Despite her voice of reason telling her it was unnecessary, her other self, the one whose voice she had learned to trust, insisted that this was the right way. And so, here she was now, making her way to her new room, saying her goodbyes, and now finally, she was alone.

…to be continued.


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