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Caught between a demanding job and limited support at home, Mansi was forced to make a hard choice. But from the choice came new beginnings…
It was a warm November morning (winters are not very cold in this part of India) when she dressed herself in a light brown saree, a starched Odisha handloom. She liked wearing sarees to go to work.
Standing in front of the mirror she looked at herself – a short plump lady with her kangaroo pouch, she saw that there was nothing special about her looks besides her very long brown hair (kissing her knees). She smiled at herself, as she knew it was never about her looks; she stood out as she was always an over-achiever.
Her 5’1″ height, rounded body and average looks had never stopped her from achieving success in her life, but what seemed to stop her was her motherhood. Since the last 9 months she was spending all her time feeding, cleaning and looking after this little human being. She was still not sure if she should be celebrating motherhood or grieving her chained captivity (she assumed that this was one).
No one ever told her that post partum depression was for real. She herself was not getting those cues.
While she was still lost in her thoughts, “Mansiiii”, came a loud voice from the living room. Pooff! Her thoughts vanished. “Mansi, Shriya has pooped, can you clean her? I am on a call.”
While Mansi was still changing Shriya’s clothes, she kept on repeating, “Shriya’s lunch is in the yellow box, snacks in blue…”
“For god’s sake Mansi, have faith in me. I can look after her for a day. You go and rock your interview, make me proud.”
Mansi paused and looked at Deepak, “Are you really happy with my decision? You see Shriya is just 9 months old and we have no help here… ” It appeared as though Mansi herself was not confident about her decision.
Deepak and Mansi had known each other since they were 3 years olds. Deepak knew her dilemma. He said,” If you are happy, I am.”
Throughout the interview, Mansi kept messaging Deepak asking for photos to reassure herself of Shriya’s well-being.
Mansi came home in the evening with a mixture of feelings. She should have been very happy as she got her dream job but she wasn’t sure if she should be celebrating it. There was a lot of background work she had to do to actually join her workplace; search for a daycare, help Shriya transition and the most important one, to convince herself that she was doing the right thing. Everything fell in place, Shriya was cooperative and so was Deepak.
The grand day arrived when Mansi joined her work. Deepak and Mansi didn’t know that this would be a turning point in their 5 year old marriage (and eons old togetherness). Like always, Mansi started excelling in her work, and she started getting appreciation as well as more work. She was being considered the next big thing in her office, and she started enjoying every bit of it. But, on the personal front Mansi was struggling to manage home and Shriya.
Deepak was busy raising funds for his newly founded start-up and Mansi was busy with her work even at home. Arguments, allegations, and fights followed by complete silence became the new household set-up. Mansi expected Deepak to be more available, Deepak wanted Mansi to be that perfect mother (it turned out he had an image in his mind).
Things turned miserable when Mansi had to travel for work and on one such professional trip, she got a call that Shriya was unwell. By the time Mansi reached home, Shriya had high fever and was not eating anything. Mansi was already in a bad state of mind while every raised finger accused Mansi of being a ‘bad mother’. She succumbed to the taunts and allegations, and what followed was an emotional resignation to her manager, Gayatri.
When Mansi was facing difficulties at home, Gayatri had been the ears she needed, the shoulder to cry upon, the only place to go to. Gayatri tried her best to convince Mansi that this phase would pass, but she could see that Mansi already felt broken beyond repair.
After her resignation, Mansi was back to being a full-time mother. Shriya was very happy to be able to cling to her mother throughout the day. Mansi did not regret her decision, but she missed her office now and then.
One fine day, while Mansi was designing activities for her toddler, an idea struck her mind. She couldn’t stop herself from calling a friend. A meeting was fixed and after a lot of planning and emptying her savings account, Mansi came up with a pre-school and a daycare. She thought of creating a space where children could just be and working mothers could leave their children with complete trust. She did not want any other mother to succumb to the pressure she had to give in to.
Today, Mansi is sitting in her office. Sunlight is kissing her rounded, bright face. She is wearing the same brown saree. She can see Shriya playing in the garden outside. Sipping her coffee she can only think of the line from the book she read in her grade 7 in school, The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank.
“I don’t think of all the misery, but the beauty that still remains.”
Image via Pexels
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