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Nigeria was not a mere few hours from Bengaluru. If she was to be gone for 6 months, what would happen to Ira? Ankita fought her tears, unable to digest the fact that she would terribly miss tossing Ira in her arms.
Ankita left the office at around 9.30 PM that day. This was not frequent but on that particular day, she had a long discussion with her boss for over 2 hours. As she sank into the passenger seat in the office taxi, a flood of thoughts began swimming in her head. She had won laurels for her work; her efficiency and people management were fantastic and the client had loaded her with a multitude of appreciation.
However, as much as the offer to go onsite to lead multiple projects excited her, after all, she had walked extra miles and looked forward to an opportunity like this one, she could not quite decide whether to go ahead or not. The one person who clearly dominated her thoughts was her little daughter, Ira, who had just about turned 5. The dilemma had lasted for nearly a month now and the time had come to let her lead know her final call.
Ankita was visibly anxious when she alighted from the cab, and although her parents knew that the matter had bothered her for long, they had not comprehended the urgency to make a decision unless Ankita herself revealed it to them. Ankita finished her dinner quickly and put little Ira to sleep after a short storytelling session. Her parents waited for Ankita to join them in the living room, all the while yearning to put their daughter into a sound sleep as Ankita did to her Ira. Ankita was in tears as her parents hugged her and sat her down to talk about the issue.
Ever since she had separated from her husband, Ankita had turned into a slightly different person of sorts. She had confided the truth to her parents who were her biggest support system, and two friends who had been with her for decades and had known her from close quarters. Not only did she not care to answer curious people’s queries, at work or in the neighborhood, but also vehemently denied any sympathy that came to her. Her parents had brought her up, rather gracefully, to be a strong and brave girl who led her life with her head on her shoulders.
Nigeria was not a mere few hours from Bengaluru. If she was to be gone for 6 months, what would happen to Ira? Ankita fought her tears, unable to digest the fact that she would terribly miss tossing Ira in her arms. The mother-daughter duo went for walks together and enjoyed a wide array of ice creams every weekend. Now, Ankita could no longer believe that her daughter had to either eat the strawberry, pista ice creams all alone or give it a skip altogether.
Ira had to manage her homework without much assistance and she had to learn to understand her mother’s absence at the parents and teachers meeting. Of course, Ira’s grandparents would do a much better job than Ankita and pamper Ira with a limitless supply of unconditional love, but the sentiment and the emotions of a mother are not to be argued with here.
As Ankita poured her boiling tea into her cup, she meticulously evaluated the repercussions on her daughter. Was she being a selfish mother? She had worked offshore for the most part of her project in the last five years. Nevertheless, every time she saw people come back from onsite with renewed energy and increased confidence, she would secretly long for the much-deserved chance that she had happily foregone just so she could bring her daughter up. There were no regrets whatsoever. She kept thinking if it was all right to consider the travel now. Her parents sat beside her, one on either side and pressed her hand. Ankita expressed how she herself would in all probability feel so weak and not focus on work if left to travel all alone. She looked at her mother and said, “Maybe I should just let my lead choose an appropriate replacement”.
Exactly then, her dad interrupted Ankita and told her something that would impact her profoundly. Ankita’s dad, himself a very strong and courageous person, advised Ankita to put off the decision for the morning. When Ankita raised her brows hinting a potential lack of time, he assured her otherwise. All he and Ankita’s mother did were, to remind Ankita of how she was the agony aunt to anyone who came for moral support and advice among the family. They suggested that she analyze every aspect of the travel with a different perspective. They asked her to rethink about what she was truly missing as well as what was her sheer assumption. Ankita’s parents did a world of difference when they asked her to be positive and most importantly open-minded before concluding anything. She smiled at them and hugged them as a response to their opinion.
Ankita went to her bedroom and kissed Ira, who was fast asleep. She took her favorite notepad and pen, gifted by her mother and went to one of her favorite most places on earth – Her writing desk, in another room. She began scribbling notes on the whole thought process. She asked herself one important question – Can I have the cake and eat it too? Well, it did not seem impossible. Her composure helped her tackle the situation better. Ankita sought to balance her family and career by doing certain permutations and combinations. Ira would have a different life in the next 6 months and not a bad life, she whispered to herself. Considering she was now spending about 6 hours at school followed by playschool, she had indeed taken well to having her friends and teachers around. If only Ankita could reschedule her sleep cycle, just to be able to welcome her daughter over a video call, it would make things a tad bit better. Ankita was more than ready to afford anything for her daughter’s happiness. Nobody can ever take the place of a mother, who in Ira’s case was both the mother and the father. True that. Nonetheless, blindly believing that a working mother who has to occasionally travel fails in her duties as a mother was equally ridiculous too. A woman, more so a mother is a lot more capable individual than that.
For a temporary period, the walks and games and weekend catch up could happen with her parents and with the company of one of Ankita’s best friend’s daughter. Ira loved her little Samira anyways. The change would not ever be easy on a little one like Ira, but it wouldn’t harm her either. Ankita succeeded in keeping negative thoughts at bay and conditions that governed those thoughts were not supposed to be entertained. Thinking so, she wrote away her fears and insecurities. Ankita will have to make a detailed list of important things so her parents could follow up on all that, in her absence. She was just a call away anyways. Ankita jotted down the key people who had to be aware that she was away, just so everybody reacted to it normally and not indulge in making Ira feel different and lonely.
Ankita decided to try with all the power she had so that things went on normally even she was physically far away from home. She was determined to be available and find the closest replacements to her everyday life with Ira. Just when she turned the pages of the calendar to fill in for the missing events, she was more than thrilled to know Ira had her month and a half holidays coming up. Whoa, she sighed.
Ankita immediately set a reminder to ask her lead if she could have her daughter and her parents for about 2 months and if the trip could be put off for a week so Ankita could be with Ira for the fast approaching test. She was certain her lead would accept, for she herself was a woman who beautifully balanced home, family, work and hobbies. So, in reality, the distance would be for 4 months, which felt like a load was taken off her head. Ankita felt lucky.
Ankita felt a lot better now, after 2 cups of tea and some homework on all the aspects of travel her parents had asked her to. It was not bad after all, she thought.
In the morning, when she explained all her considerations and her decision to in fact go on with the trip if only her lead cooperated which she was very sure of, her parents felt mighty proud of their daughter, once again. Ankita had turned into an example woman and now, this step would take her far more ahead of conventional thinkers. Ankita, like always, proved beyond doubt that she was not the kind to be consumed by the shackles of guilt, but a woman with a broader outlook and confidence.
She set off for work, a little earlier than every day so she could speak with her lead at the earliest. Ankita wondered how nice it would be take turns and hear stories from Ira when she would be gone. In return, Ira would get to hear diverse stories about different people from a different land, not the routine tales. It felt awesome, already. Ankita continued to imagine Ira’s expression when Ankita would reveal their holiday destination for this year.
Ankita, who had sometimes felt bad and low that she had deprived Ira of her father, although there were very valid reasons why she had chosen to do, this time around, she felt a strong surge of positivity and absolutely no low feeling ever. She was surprised to know she had transitioned to be in a better space, the one she had always hoped for. She told herself just 1 thing – Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed. She felt like the special woman that she actually is, albeit with all the breaking of stereotypes and living life in her own beautiful way.
Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the Muse of the Month January 2019, but not one of the winners.
Image source: shutterstock
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