Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Go-Getter

The year was 1986. She was 25, a university topper with high ambitions, when she had got married. If she were given a chance, she would have studied more, enrolled herself in a Ph.D. and become a tenured professor. But as her parents and the society desired, she got married.

She moved to her in-laws’ house, two hundred kilometers away, in a big city. A patriarchal house at that, with a joint family of over ten members (including a couple of cousins, IAS aspirants, of her husband). The first day, she was handed over the kitchen; the mother-in-law heaving in respite that now, after all these years, she could relax. Three times a day, she would spend hours in the kitchen, making dal, subzi and over fifty chapatis each time, feeding everyone before she could. It wasn’t the kind of married life she had anticipated for herself. She thought of a more academically stimulating household that encouraged women to go out and chase their dreams. But the society wasn’t so back then.

She kept quiet; her tedious routine silently took her dreams away. Two years later, a son was born. Life became busier. Now, with the kitchen, she had to take care of the baby, too. The joint family helped, but soon, her husband was transferred to a rural village in North Bihar, without electricity, without proper water. She accompanied him taking their little son along. The kitchen became smaller now, but the upbringing became difficult. She took it upon herself to teach the kid – read out books and stories to him, taught him alphabets and numbers and readied him for school. By this time, a daughter arrived. The process continued. The husband was transferred back to his sprawling city, just before taking care of the two kids could go out of hand. Two kids and kitchen followed her everywhere she went, until the son turned 17. She worked day and night to assure that her son, who was preparing for the JEE, had proper nourishment and rest. She would make coffee for him at two at night, 6 am breakfast before the school and the 2 pm sumptuous lunch when school got over. Her years of hardwork reaped a result. The son cleared the JEE. All of a sudden, she found something that she never thought she had. Time.

The year was 2007. She was 47, an age where most people comfortably cocoon themselves in the familial comfort zone. However, she had other plans. She resumed her studies, something that she had dreamed of pursuing twenty-two years ago. It took her time and efforts to regain her confidence, to brush off the layers of dust enveloping her prior knowledge and once she did, there was no looking back.

The year is 2014, the son is a graduate from IIT, the daughter is a graduate from DU; however, both of them are pursuing unconventional careers, careers that require one to shun away the comfort zone – one, being a full-time writer; the other, a freelance photographer. On a stuffy summer afternoon of 2014, the son receives a call from their mother, a lecturer now, who has some news to convey. After much jubilation and celebrations, the son changes the mobile contact name of his mother from Ma to Dr. Ma.


This is the story of my mother. For twenty-two years, she gave up on her dreams to fuel mine. She resumed her studies when I entered college. Seven years later, she completes her Ph.D.

Ma, I'm proud of you! Your passion, resilience and determination continue to be my biggest source of hope.

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