Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
At this age of 46, I often wonder and ask myself, if I have made it large? And when I start thinking, whatever I may have done, the answer is certainly YES!
I grew up in a nuclear family of four, my parents and my younger sister. My mother was a housewife and naturally would look after all our activities, from our studies to our sicknesses and also all the household duties from meals to the guests.
We were well cared for kids growing up with good values. Our mother was an MA in Marathi and our father not only wished us to get a good education, but also get a professional education and support ourselves when we grew up. So he stressed on our studies, and would give us every possible facility and opportunity, so that we excelled in studies.
His and our mother’s effort bore fruit and I became a Doctor and my sister became an Engineer. Not only that, we did our post graduation too – I became an Ophthalmologist and my sister did her PG in Industrial Engineering. Our parents were pleased because they had completed their jobs of bringing us up to the T.
After almost 4 ½ years of getting married I had my daughter Sakshi. Everyone in the family had by then started talking about why we were not having a kid? What was taking us so long? Did we have some fertility problems? Why don’t we take medical advice, after all we both are Doctors?
But both of us knew that we did not want to have a kid unless I had finished my PG, which I was doing after getting married.
Finally the day arrived when I had, as every woman feels, the prettiest baby in the world. We named her Sakshi.
My husband and I are both ophthalmologists, and have an eye hospital, Eye Care Centre. My husband, Dr Nishikant was working as an associate consultant in another hospital in the morning hours, and so I would pick up little 3 month old Sakshi, and go to the hospital in an auto rickshaw for my work. A lady helper would take care of her.
The hospital space was quite spacious and we gave Sakshi a little closet to hold her toys and clothes while in the hospital. We even did eye surgeries as the lady looked after my daughter. I was okay with this arrangement because my daughter was mostly in front of my eyes.
But children grow up fast and as she grew up to 3 years, she would not stay in the hospital premises. She ran out, she wanted to play, and it was difficult to manage her in the hospital. So I decided that I would find a nice creche for her. A creche because we did not have any help at home, as both our parents were still actively working and were away.
I found one too, and the ladies who looked after Sakshi were kind, loving and caring, but she just would not stay there happily. Every time I went to the creche to pick her up, she would stand at the door teary eyed and run into my arms. My heart ached at this moment everyday. Finally I decided that there would be no creche for her from now on and I would only practice mornings. As she grew up, I would be there for her every evening, taking her for her ground and hobby classes and just being there for her as she studied.
The mind needs a challenge, even if it is emotionally satisfied, (it was satisfied that my daughter too was well cared for as I was) it needs a cognitive challenge too, and so I think, it started pouring out verses, yes, poetic verses. I was fond of reading and when I was doing my residency, my idea of being successful was being able to buy a book of any price from anywhere in the world when I so wished.
I started taking a delight in my new emerging skill. I had written only one poem by then and that too in college. Days passed with a new poem every other day and from it was created a book of poems Shells and Melodies. By now writing poems had become a habit or a compulsion, I often wonder which is true. Now I have a collection of 100 long and 100 short poems. Some poems and short stories have got published in literary online magazines too.
I continued working mornings in our eye hospital but evenings had become duller. I had more and more work related to keeping up with Sakshi’s school, and hobby and tuition routine. Of picking her up and dropping, of cooking for her, and her sickness and her moods. Yet again my mind craved for more challenge and I took admission to do Masters in Psychology in a distance education university. My evening routine rolled with my daughter’s and my own studies in the middle of it all.
I remember, I would drop Sakshi to her classes and sit reading in the car. I completed MA in Psychology in 3 years instead of 2 years though the maximum time one could take was 5 years. My evening routine since a long time has been really crazy. Writing, studying, shopping, being a driver, mother, nurse, cook and you can add an activity of your choice, but I have no regrets.
When I ask myself once again if I have made it large? My answer is, I do not know, but I am content with whatever I have made out of my life. I did not stop working and I achieved three more feats of being a poet, a student of Psychology and a mother. I accept that I did not progress like any full time Ophthalmologist, but I can pick it up anytime since I was never away from my job.
My daughter is now giving her 12th board exams and after another month or so she may leave for her further studies and I will lose my job of a driver and a full time mom, but I know my second innings await me and I am totally excited to make the most of it.
The other day Sakshi was asking me, what kind of an old woman would you like to be?
I thought for a while and I said that I would want to be a busy old lady, who is so busy doing the things she loves that she has no time to get angry with either her past or present. I am a women but I do not think that my choices were out of compulsion. Our life throws challenges at us but responses are our own. I have seen many kids raised in a creche because their mothers were either comfortable keeping them there, or they had no other option, and yet the kids grew up very well. I chose as per my calling.
Feminism for me does mean each woman compete with a man or be equal to a man or be in full time work. It means for me, that each woman should have the freedom to choose and listen to her own calling. I believe too that no one can make you do anything unless you have decided to do it. So I believe in taking full responsibility for my own actions and its results. I want to be a happy, content, loving and a very busy granny as I grow old.
Images source: Maitreyee Joshi
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