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“With this I leave it for you to decide if you wish to live life on your terms or still do life’s bidding? Life is all about second chances as I have learnt.”
“Rama, what you require is to believe in yourself. You can definitely do it. If I can carve success for myself then why not you?” Sunita said, trying to calm Rama’s nerves, a participant in the she held meeting.
“Sunita, we are women, we aren’t supposed to enter the men’s realm of work. And why should we? We are provided for, our kids want of nothing, then why should we tire our self by going out and working?” interrupted Madhu with a sneer.
Her face did not mask the jealousy towards Sunita. Sunita had risen from among them and reached the pinnacle of success. Not only money but fame too followed.
“Madhu, these are the shackles we need to break, if we want to create our own identity, live life on our terms. Don’t you want to be called by your individual name? Not as Aakash’s mother, or Mrs. Bansal, but Madhu Bansal,” Sunita tried convincing Madhu once more.
She wanted to break the barrier that had come between them since her promotion to executive director at a famous network marketing company.
Sunita, had come to this colony, on the outskirts of Jaipur, 15 years ago as a newly wed bahu. She was welcomed with open arms by the existing young daughters-in-law from the other families. And she had connected instantly with Madhu and since then they had been best friends, up until Sunita decided to invest in her career.
They were happy to have been married to the new breed of software engineer husbands who were open-minded enough, allowing them certain freedoms that their mothers had been denied. They were allowed to wear saree without a pallu, enjoy movie dates and parties with their husbands, and were treated at restaurants once in a while.
They were even permitted to drive a two wheeler for all their household needs. And best of all, they could be part of the various kitty parties, thus being able to let their hair down once a month. Every time they went to their mayka, their parents gushed about their good fate of being married in such a modern family.
Years had passed in the drudgery of taking care of the household, ageing in-laws and young kids. But with kids grown up and additional help in the form of maids, the monotony of the routine gnawed its way in their lives. Some were happy about it and some wanted to give their life more meaning.
“Sunita, it all seems fashionable to talk like the millennials about creating identity and living life on our terms, but at the age of 45, can we detach ourselves from our family life? Not everyone has a supportive family like you. Also, now we aren’t young to run around the city on two wheelers selling these products door to door? We don’t own BMW’s like you,” Madhu was vicious.
“Madhu, none among the assembled here knows better than you, the struggles I faced when I wanted to start my career. Yet you make these comments?!” Sunita was disappointed in her friend. Lack of productive activity had made her the quintessential jealous neighbour.
Before Madhu could retort, Sunita began again, “Some of you know me from before, while some others have known me after my success. However none of you know how I reached here. Supportive family? Let me begin there.
“Going out and working… it was prohibited for me. This was made sure even before marriage, when my in-laws had come to interview me to be their son’s prospective wife. Though a graduate I had agreed to their terms because, after all, I was being married into a well-regarded family with better means. Also because unlike some of my friends who had been married without their consent, I at least got to meet the boy and talk to him once.
“It was the advent of social media, which opened my eyes and showed me the life that could have been. Not that I despised my life, but there was a regret in the form of ‘what if...’ Many of my college friends had moved up the corporate ladder and were living a life of independence.
“That’s when life decided to give me another chance. Sarika, my senior from college, had been working for a network marketing beauty products company. And it was one of her jobs to recruit more women in the fold of this network marketing. She invited me for one of her meetings and convinced me about the great opportunity this company could provide me.
When I spoke to my husband…”
“Hen-pecked guy.. became a house-husband for her…” Madhu’s voice resounded in the hall with disgust.
“Well, if you let me complete my story Madhu I will get to that point too.” Sunita, though hurt with Madhu’s remarks, knew she has to let the world know her side.
“My husband though a nice person, wasn’t ready to not having a wife at home; taking care of all his and his family’s needs. Till now he never had to worry about the kids’ education or parent’s health. With me stepping out, he would have these worries added to his list. And he wasn’t willing to risk his comfort for my career which according to him, was unnecessary at the age of 40.
“He forbade me to take up that offer, but I wasn’t willing to let this opportunity slip by. I had to take a chance and taste failure on my own, if that were the case. I would meet my friends at their houses and convince them to join this network marketing. Some joined, some didn’t,” Sunita said directly looking at Madhu.
“Most of them were wary of their age and didn’t want a challenge. To each his own. But for me, it was like working from home. Slowly, the money started coming in. First in hundreds, then in thousands.
“I couldn’t hide it from my family anymore as I started moving up the ladder and now had to go out and conduct meetings. It was easy to convince my husband this time around as I had proved him my capabilities. But my in-laws were livid. They forbade me, giving me reasons of their ailing health, at times threatening to send me back home to my parent’s house. All through this I continued, still managing home and my career. There were days when I wasn’t let in- in my own house, if I was late from a meeting. But I persevered.
“And the results came. First: my kids became independent, more responsible with me not being around to pamper them. Then my in-laws also accepted me when I started bringing accolades, in the form of awards and newspaper mentions. The cheque too ran in lakhs, so much so that the security that my job created led for my husband to pursue his dreams too: of authoring a book. We could risk his sabbatical from work because of my steady flow of income.
“The BMW that you see now has come from these struggles. It has come from going in the heat of summer in buses to small villages, empowering women there to stand on their own. And from being thrown out of some houses by patriarchal men and women. Of being hungry all day long and waiting outside your own house.
“Money was not the only motivator. My identity, my independence, and the peace of knowing that life can be in my control if I wish to be so; that truly was the motivation. With this I leave it for you to decide if you wish to live life on your terms or still do life’s bidding?!” Sunita left the podium with her head held high and walked towards Madhu.
“Madhu, life is all about second chances as I have learnt. If I am by your side will you be willing to give yourself and our friendship one more chance?”
Though Madhu was still skeptical about this the grip of Sunita’s hands on her and the shine in her eyes were reason enough for her to hug her and nod a yes.
Picture credits: Pexels
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