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Are you the same person who was an all-rounder in college? Are you the same person who had huge ambitions, who wanted to do an MBA, who wanted to have a great career? If you are, I hope you will find your way back to who you really are, Sneha.
It was a beautiful night. The sky was clear, not a cloud to be found anywhere. A million stars were scattered across the clear sky and a full moon dazzled like a jewel in a crown. A perfect night for some peace and quiet time, but Sneha felt just the opposite.
Her mind was at turmoil. Deepa, her younger sister had called her that morning. “Are you taking up Karthik’s offer? Please say you do, Sneha,” Deepa had pleaded.
Karthik was her classmate from college, and both of them had also worked together in the same firm until Sneha married. Knowing her sincerity, her excellent skills and background in HR, Karthik had asked Sneha if she would be interested in accepting a recently created HR Manager role in his firm. It was a great opportunity for Sneha to get back into the working world after a long break and yet without a doubt, she knew that Akhil would not let her take the offer.
It had been three years since her marriage to Akhil. The women in Akhil’s family were educated, but all of them were homemakers not because it was their choice but because of the patriarchal nature of their family. Unfortunately, Sneha had failed to see some of these obvious signs before her marriage. Akhil had even asked her to resign her job stating the longer commute to her work place as one of the reasons.
She wanted to pursue higher studies after marriage and had discussed with Akhil that she would resign her job on the condition that she could pursue her MBA after her wedding, but alas, things did not go as per the plan. Unfortunately, her mother in law passed away right after her wedding. After that, whenever she brought up the topic of pursuing her MBA, Akhil always brushed it off saying that this was not the time to think about higher studies.
A year after her marriage, she gave birth to their daughter, and her life revolved around the newborn. After a year or so, Sneha started yearning for more in life. Her manager from her previous firm had reached out to her a few times to see if she would be willing to come back, but each time, Akhil had one excuse or the other, and it caused conflict between them.
She had almost convinced herself that the only solution was to sacrifice her dreams for a career for the sake of some peace in her family. As a result, Sneha wasn’t expecting anything different this time around with Karthik’s offer. Yet, she decided to talk to Akhil about the offer.
Without an iota of interest and complete indifference, Akhil looked at her and asked her, “Is having a career worth leaving our daughter behind? Who is going to take care of Rhia when you go to work?”
Sneha was expecting this too and was ready with her next response, “A lot of my friends have told me that Horizon Preschool is excellent. They make learning fun and I am sure Rhia will love it there. Besides, who knows? She may make some good friends. Can we at least try?”
Sneha had done all the homework as she really didn’t want to lose the opportunity this time, and she also wanted to make sure her daughter was in the right hands. Akhil was not ready to change his mind though, and told Sneha, “That won’t work, and I am not ready to send my daughter to child care.”
When Deepa called her that morning to ask her whether she was going to take up on Karthik’s offer, Sneha had told her sadly, “No, Deepa. Rhia is too young. She needs me. I will wait for a couple more years.”
“But, Sneha, there is quite a good selection of preschools near your place. Rhia will like it there,” Deepa tried her best to convince Sneha. However, she soon realized that she would not be able to change Sneha’s mind. “I feel like I don’t know you anymore. I cannot believe the person you have become, Sneha, Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you the same person who was an all-rounder in college? Are you the same person who had huge ambitions, who wanted to do an MBA, who wanted to have a great career? If you are, I hope you will find your way back to who you really are, Sneha. Please know that I will always be there for you when you do and remember what mom always taught us,” a disappointed Deepa made a final plea to her sister and ended the call with a heavy heart.
Later that night, Sneha’s agitated mind reflected on what Deepa had said, and she realized that Deepa had touched on things that she had painfully avoided all these years. Her mom’s advice, her own interests, her career ambitions and her individuality had no place in her current life, but had so much her identity just a few years back.
“How did I get here? Could I ever be the Sneha who was a fearless, ambitious, and strong woman that I once had been?” Sneha wondered.
She thought about how her mom would have reacted if she were alive. Sneha and Deepa were really young, around 11 and 9 years old respectively, when their father had passed away. Their mom was the sole breadwinner of their family and she had worked really hard to make ends meet. However difficult her life was, she had made sure that her daughters were educated well. She had stood up for herself and her girls when her relatives had wanted her to get the girls married at a young age. She had always told them to stand up for themselves no matter what.
“What would mom do if she was in my place? What would I do if I want to live my life on my own terms? Am I a strong and positive role model for Rhia?” wondered Sneha. The answers were crystal clear and right in front of her all this time. She just did not have the courage to accept or act on them. She immediately logged on to her laptop and sent a response to Karthik, accepting his offer.
“Hey, Sneha, You seem to be busy. What is going on? Hope it is nothing that I don’t like,” Akhil asked her grinning as he entered the room.
“I have accepted Karthik’s offer, Akhil. I am starting my new job coming Monday,” said Sneha.
“Who is going to let you go to work?” asked a shocked Akhil.
Sneha looked straight at Akhil and said, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me, but who is going to stop me. And the answer is no one as I am determined to make my own decisions from now on. If you do not want to send your daughter to the preschool, then feel free to stay home and take care of her, as I have decided to work from next week.” She was amazed at her own voice and her confident self. She was finally standing up for herself, and that felt really good. She was ready to take whatever came her way from now on.
Sneha headed to the balcony to get some fresh air. The cool breeze and the clear sky were welcoming. Just then, her phone rang. It was Deepa, her loving sister who was always there for her. “Is it probably some sisterly telepathy that tells her when to call?” wondered Sneha fondly.
“I feel so relieved, and Amma would have been proud of me today, Deepa. I have decided to accept Karthik’s offer and I have just sent an email to him accepting the offer, and starting my new job from next Monday. I was lost the last few years, I had forgotten my identity, but I knew I’ll always find my way back. Thanks for helping me, dear sister, and I can’t wait to see you when you come here for the New year,” said an excited Sneha.
It was bittersweet for both of them. Bitter because their mom was not there to see the transformation, and sweet because Sneha found her way back as she always did. With happy tears brimming in her eyes, Deepa could see her mom smiling from wherever she was.
Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the November 2018 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.
Image source: pixabay
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