Ananya read the mail once again. Ananya Seth, Senior Vice President of AMZ Ltd. It was her dream come true. She had waited for this day and dreamt of it from the time she joined AMZ 10 years back. Her biggest aspiration and the reason for her toiling day and night, waking up at odd hours and boarding flights, shuttling between cities, in fact at times even at the cost of putting her family behind. And finally she had made it.
She got the official confirmation this morning from her boss. Until then her mind was in turmoil , unsure if she had made it this year or not. The news would be announced officially to all employees in a few days. This was her moment. She wanted to savour it, enjoy it to the fullest and revel in it. But she felt something was amiss. What was it? Her eyes fell on the mantle piece which had a family photo of Diya, her husband Aman and herself, taken at Hong Kong where they went on a family trip last year. How happy they looked and the gleam in Diya's eyes was so mesmerising. She was over the moon. She always craved for her mother's time but could not get enough of it.
Ananya's mind travelled back in time. After 3 years of marriage, Diya was born. Though Ananya was not someone who was very fond of babies, and in fact gave a great thought before she decided to have one , discussed, debated, argued and fought with Aman " We should ask ourselves if we are ready to have a baby not bcos people are asking us, we decide to join the bandwagon. I am not ready yet Aman. I need time." Things changed the moment Diya was placed in her arms. She was completely besotted by her little one. The next few months went by in a blur. Feeding Diya, putting her to sleep , attending to her needs took up all of Ananya's time. Finally it was time to go back to work, it was initially decided that Aman's mother would take care of Diya as Ananya intended to continue working. It was very tough going back to work but slowly she got back into her old rhythm . Weekdays were jam packed, she left early and returned late but weekends she spent all of her time with Diya.
Watching her grow was a marvel. She missed those first moments - it was her mother in law who would call excitedly, tell her and video record it for her to see. Years flew by, Diya started school. Ananya got busier at work. She tried her best but there was only so much she could do in 24 hours. Diya cried for her, at times made a fuss when she went on tours but slowly got used to it. She could not make it to all the PTA's, the school functions. Aman tried to make up for it but Diya craved for her mother.
One day in a fit of rage when Ananya had missed her annual day she burst out" Mumma you just love your job, everyone's parents had come and -they looked at me in such a funny way, I was tired of answering their questions where is your Mummy? You really don't love me Mumma, only Daddy and Dadi love me". Ananya was speechless, she dint know what to say. She had planned well in advance for this school program as she knew what it meant to her child . But the auditors report had created a hurricane in her company, the damage had to be salvaged and it had to be done at that precise time. She had no choice.
The phone rang and she snapped out of her reverie. It was her husband asking what time would she be coming home, he was waiting for her to have dinner together. Let's celebrate the big day, let's go out tonight he said. She smiled and said she would leave soon. She switched off the lights, collected her stuff and left. On the way back she kept thinking " What would be Diya's reaction to my promotion? Would she share my happiness or would she burst out saying " oh so now you would have lesser time for me". I have achieved my goal as a professional but have I failed as a mother?
The guilt of a working mom plagued her for years and she had failed in snapping out of it. How much ever she tried to squeeze in time and make the most of her free time to give the best of everything to her daughter, be it playing with her, cooking her favourite food , reading her a bedtime story, making her study or simply having a heartwarming conversation, there was always another mother who prepared a better meal, who spent more time with her daughter, read her more stories. Her friends many of whom were SAHM's did not loose any opportunity of adding to her guilt. But you are financially settled na, Aman has a good job, why don't you quit and maybe take up some part time job? She was raised by working parents and she always wondered- should financially security be the only reason a woman needs to work after having kids? If she is financially stable and still decides to pursue a career, if she has ambitions of growing professionally- is she not a good mother? Does that mean she puts her baby second? She knew her priority was always her child but why does society look at moms who pursue a professional goal as someone who is selfish, she failed to fathom. It was a heavy bag of emotions she carried home each day, she did not care a damn about people , her only worry was - what her child thought? She hoped that as Diya grew up, she would gain maturity and understand things.
She reached home, it was dark. Suddenly the lights went on and Diya , Aman and her mother in law all came with a cake and a flower bouquet in hand, singing and congratulating her. Diya hugged her, and said " I am proud of you Mumma, I love you". Ananya was overcome with emotions, so many of them at once. "Beta I don't know what to say, I am just overwhelmed". "Ma I know I have been really blunt on so many occasions and have thrown so many tantrums. But as I grew I realised I was wrong. You always strived to do your best, justice to work and justice to home. You gave me quality time more than anything and that really mattered. The comforts I enjoy today are all because of you. And being ambitious, having a professional goal is ok for a man but why not for a woman? And because she is a Mom does that make her a bad mother? I had found the answer Mumma and I believe you are the best mother. You are my role model , my inspiration and the epitome of success for me."
Ananya hugged her daughter tightly. Today she had got her biggest promotion in the true sense. Her ambition was fulfilled.
Bhagwan you speak English with your daughter? What is happening these days?
People want to show off and are forgetting their roots”. I have heard this many times. Earlier my
reaction used to be - apologetic. I would keep quiet and try to ignore the comment
and find an escape route. But now if someone dares to talk to me about this
matter, I snap them off then and there. I am unapologetic I don't think I have
done anything wrong which I need to feel ashamed about. So yes I do speak in
English at home and this is my first language. No qualms about it. And
it's not because of an inter caste marriage in fact I have been speaking
English as a first language right since childhood. To give you some background
on how this came to be. My mother’s parents belonged to Mangalore ( it's a
coastal town in Karnataka) they migrated to Bombay in search of a livelihood
when they were young. They married, had kids and their kids were brought up by
a maid. As my mom and her brother lived…
As Aesha tapped her heel restlessly at the Visa Consulate, one
might just think of her as yet another young woman who has set her heart on an
overseas dream, a future in the greener pastures and she is probably nervous if
her visa will be stamped or not as her fate can either be made or broken by
this one seal (or the lack of it). But for Aesha , her tumultuous mind couldn't
be tamed today. While she was at
the cusp of an important milestone in her career and getting the visa would
mean she inches one step closer to her dream professionally- somewhere she
shuddered to think of how it would impact her love life and the very foundation
of her marriage. It seemed like
yesterday- Aman and Aesha met at a sangeet and got talking. They hit it
instantly and never realized where time flew. They would always chuckle when
they got to know later that this had been set up by their parents. Aesha was a young, dynamic, super smart, intelligent woman who was
a great fan of Sheryl Sandberg and truly…
"And they lived happily ever after"- as Aesha closed the story book, little Anya was asleep, her tiny hand holding Aesha's arm firmly. With one more loving look at the little angel, she gently unwound her arm and tucked her into bed. She sighed and wondered- Is it really happily ever after? Maybe she should alter these fairy tales and tell her daughter more real world stories. The chilly air outside continued to blow. Aesha looked out of the window. It had been 6 months she moved to New York and she loved the vibrant and energetic city. Little Anya had settled down quickly too, much to her surprise and delight. She absolutely loved the day care in Aesha's office where she spent her day with other kids of her age. Aesha loved the new office, the energy levels and enthusiasm was at a new high. Being the Head Office, it was abuzz with activity. One thing that she found in stark contrast to India was that people took their work life balance very seriously. No one would st…