Shiksha got married a little late by her extended family and societies standards, but her parents would not care less. They wanted their daughter to excel, they never made a comparison between her and their son. All the opportunities were the same, the avenues were equally opened, even the criticism and punishments never differed. She was a girl , yes, but that never made a difference to her originator and she was proud of it. She in return never let them down, not even for a second the trust was broken the freedom taken for granted. She worked really hard and that could be perceived if you laid an eye on her academic records. Sailing through her boards then entrance exams she made it to her desired stream in her preferred college, even there academics was a prime focus, she had expectations to fulfill. Finally landing in her dream company for internship and eventually job. Only thing that took time according to her plans was finding a perfect groom which she eventually did. Her parents found a match for her way beyond her supposition, she was elated. Even getting pregnant was a cake walk. They planned the baby and everything was in their favor.
Shiksha was granted maternity leave but when the time ended she just couldn’t gather the verve to leave her child alone and go to work. Getting her child raised by a nanny was not her intention and day care and crches though she had nothing against them yet never lived up to her benchmark.
Day’s went by, a decision had to be reached, the place where she was in her career was non negotiable, it took her 6 years to be where she was , she contemplated, amaranthine discussions in the lobby, over dinners, on phone calls, in coffee houses. The constant hint that was given to her was that leaving this now here would be the biggest mistake of her life. She was being too emotional, hormones were playing a havoc in her mummified system. Friend’s and confidants who knew her and wanted the best for her reminded her that this decision was irreversible, she would regret it . The moment her child grows up and stops needing her she would blame him for her sacrifice, her wasted life, her dissipated youth, when she would be waiting for him to return home at 2 in the night and he would ask her to relax and go back to sleep she would curse this day. He will grow up, every child does but her life would come to a halt.
When she would be planning a family dinner and he would ditch her , when he would want to go out for movies with his friends rather than her, when someone else would tell her about his girl friend, her world would come crashing down and then in the moments of self realization she unknowingly would tell him everything she immolated for him. That is when she would want him to return the favor. Be by her side, take care of her, aid to her growing insecurities, attend to her anxieties and mood swings, feed her regret of not living her life by pitiful words and lamentable glance.
All this hit really hard on Shiksha’s consciousness. she knew all this was true, or at least come true in a supposed future. She couldn’t sleep all night, after all she was answerable not only to the company but to her heart too. It was not about this company or this very job it was about her, her life and her child. She didn’t realize when dawn broke, she got ready, picked up her bag and left for the office, the decision was taken.
To everyone’s surprise she came early that day, nobody questioned her, her decision was respected, she was consumed by her thoughts the entire day, Avinash tried to talk to her at night but she pretended to have slept. The next morning no alarm went off, tea in the kitchen wasn’t prepared neither did she kiss Avinash and there son good bye.
Avinash woke up to see her smiling face, serene sitting near the window as if she had achieved something that is when she spoke up.
Not going back to work was the call she made, she would not join work not now, not for another few years, she told him that all through the pregnancy she could not wait to get her normal life back but now when she has the choice she simply choses her child over career. This was not an impulsive decision, she had thought about it over and over again. She even realised that the opportunities she might end up missing now won’t ever come back. The mother in her was too sure. She couldn’t end up missing her childs milestones. His first step, his first fall, the way he would suck his thumb on cling on to her when the door bell rings, seeing him sleep, win his first race, his first day at school,packing his lunch and seeing him crib each day as to what rubbish she packed in the tiffin. Soothing him when he falls sick and kissing his bruised knees. She articulated that how she couldn’t afford to miss all this .
And the regrets he asked.
I am doing this for myself she announced. My pleasure. I am not a narcistic but this is my choice and not a sacrifice. Don’t demean my right to choose by tagging it as a sacrifice. A sacrifice would burden me all my life which I would pass on to him, our son as a debt. Coaxing him cursing him at every stance he would want to do something different from my expectation, falling on his shoulders as a baggage as to how he needs to be with us all his life even when he wants to fly. My sacrifice would mean I teach him to sacrifice . I teach him to let go of one’s aspirations for people you call your loved ones. I want him to know that this was my conscious choice, and life is all about choices, good or bad. I want to give him wings to fly by making his roots strong and the choice I have made today is my own selfish way to make sure I raise a son who respects others for there choices.
Don’t ever pity me, be proud of me. As I am of myself.