PS. A very candid personal post ahead, might bore a lot of people :D
To have lost her father when she was a child. Mummy says, being 8 years old, she felt the gravity of the situation like a torrent. Life was never to be the same again. Granny had to fend for 3 daughters. She had to complete her Bachelor in Education and get a job in a school. Very scrupulously she saved money and fended for her kids. Being the eldest quite a bit of the onus fell on Mummy to support granny's endeavours. As a child, helping in the cooking, household work and care of her sisters. As she grew, in the choice of the courses she could take dependent on funds (she is a brain). Then in the time she could keep delaying her marriage. She was dismissed sometimes for being 'dark' but eventually she got my 'fair' dad as her life partner.
Marriage came with its own baggage. Papa had a big family with 7 siblings and he being the one in the city - a lot fell on him. There was a lot of cost cutting on the part of my parents. But I remember my paternal grandparents till their dying day say that my mom and dad took them to Calcutta. Which was a very big thing for them! Mummy always says their blessings were a major reason why we are where we are. (May they rest in peace)
As soon as sis and I were a bit grown up, Mummy had to take up a job. She says it was because Papa encouraged her, but I am sure there was a bit of financial pinch behind it all the time. She joined as a lecturer in a government college. Government job came with transfers and movements. I was too young to understand, but I remember a span when I was with Papa and my sis with Mummy. I never gave it a thought till much later, but I imagine Mummy living away from one child and her husband – I feel it is a lot to cope. There was a phase when she had to live in another town all by herself and sis and I stayed with Papa to not discontinue our education. She used to make an over night bus journey to come and see us over weekends and holidays. Much later when I joined NIT and used to make over night trips in the bus, I could feel some of the pain Mummy must have. We used to travel in groups, so some small talk between us group of girls would distract me from the thought of my family. But imagine having no one for company and waving your kids and husband goodbye from the bus window. I remember my eyes singing with tears every time. Sis being the kiddo used to cry out loud.
Not only the emotional aspect, the journeys were physically taxing too. In the winter months, the buses would be veritable refrigerators. No amount of clothing can protect one from the chilly winds as the bus sped through deserted hilly terrain. Mummy used to say, during the rainy months, there would be sporadic landslides. The bus would need to take a detour, but the only way to reach a point where a detour could be made was driving in reverse for something like a kilometre many a times. It sounds a very desperate attempt to keep on working, but I feel the needs must have been that dire. Sis and I never faced any sanctions on our demands. We were given the best education and infrastructure to progress. I know many of my friends whose parents had to curtail some of their wishes to make ends meet. I really appreciate what our parents did and how they maintained the perfect balance by never spoiling us. Till date, sis and I understand the value of each penny we spend.
My parent's struggle makes me a bit less judgemental of some of the choices my peers make. Now a days I see a norm being rampant of partners not being co-located, being even in different continents. I know it sounds bizarre and beats the whole purpose of being a family, but then I feel, its human nature to stretch and see if something works out, 'this one-time'. If they do, and God willing the situation does not arise again, its all good. If it comes over again, the first stop gap solution makes them undertake the venture again. If they came out of it once, they can surely manage again. Thus goes on a vicious circle. I am no one to interpret other's lives, but I surely am not quick to jump to conclusions when I come across such scenarios.
Life went on and mom finally landed with an awesome job in a place where she could be with us! Hurray! But by that time I was ready to leave the nest. J The job was too good to be true. Location wise, salary wise, challenges wise, people wise. It was just splendid. If things are too good to be true, they are too good to last long. There was a decision to consolidate branches of the institution and Mummy was offered her position in Ranchi. Since by this time sis and I were on our own career paths, she did not think twice about calling it quits. I squirm to think how the decision might have felt for her. With still close to 15 years of service there might have been so many more accolades she could have attained. (She was always appreciated for her teaching, her personal involvement with the students and her fantastic presentation skills) Being a working mom, I quiver whenever I am presented with a choice of career vs. home. I know I always choose home, because I have only one shot at it, I always look back at career with forlorn eyes. Thankfully such instances have been few and far between, but I hope I am not presented with the calls that Mummy had to make.
Tomorrow Mummy reaches here to be with us for some time. Chiyaa's constant illness and my full time job warranted the need for extra support. We have decided to go the two pronged way. Chiyaa will goto day care one half of the day and Mummy would take care of her for the other (Since mil had left after a year's stay, calling her again would not have been 'safe' from a visa perspective). At least for the next 5 months we wish Chiyaa gets the customised home care that every growing child needs. It has been 1 year and 7 months since Mummy saw her only grandchild. There are video calls every day, but being there in person, hearing her giggles, seeing her tantrums, watching her sleepy eyes in the morning, holding her butter fingers, kissing that cherubic head, getting the wettest kisses and enjoying the countless moments every day - it is something I would not want her to miss. As has been the glowing theme of Mummy's life, nothing comes without a price. She has to leave my sister who is not yet 'settled' i.e. married. I know the thought will always bother her like a nagging scar. As she must have waved goodbye to Papa and sis I believe one half of her heart would be torn with the thought of leaving them while the other would be brimming with joy for seeing the kiddo.
At every turn in my life, Mummy's support has been momentous for me. She has always been the pillar who made everything seem achievable. She has shaped me, my opinions, and my attitude. She has remained away from me for long spans of my life, but she has never been absent. She has always struck the perfect balance holding me, shaping me and then letting me go, try and fail when the situation arose. She has been through lots of tough times, and I wish she one day has unadulterated happiness.