Roots of a married woman

I am a 40 something married Marwari woman (I know I don’t look it, 40 plus and Marwari 😉 and without the Indian stamp of sindoor, probably married too!). I was born a Bihari but ended up being a Jharkhandi because I grew up in Jamshedpur, the steel city, which changed state (no-no it did not evaporate into thin air but became so due to the regional political divide). I did my schooling in a Convent school where Jesus was God but back home it was Hare Rama-Hare Krishna. Then I went on to become an Engineer from an obscure Vidarbha town, in Maharashtra. I got married in Rajasthan to a Jain who was brought up in Andhra Pradesh and I now live in Mumbai’s twin city Thane.

Phew!!! Just as you are trying to wrap your head around the perplexity, imagine my dilemma in trying to fathom the depth or the spread of my roots. What do I say about my hometown, my religion, my education, my culture, and my life itself which has been through such a diverse landscape. Hopefully through this narrative I will make sense out of it. And I know for sure that in this evolved India, mine is not a unique story.

As in plants, so in us, Roots anchor us. Invisible but an integral part of our growth. Roots can be primary roots or secondary roots, tap root or fibrous root or a combination of the two or adapted as per the environment like prop, aerial, buttress, clasping, respiratory or parasitic roots. Wow that sounds so intelligent and botanical and therefore organic, the new buzzword. And this being in my daughter’s current syllabus is godsent.

As I was growing up, my house, my school, my friends, and my family were the only connections I had. I lived in the same house with my same family till I got married. My Primary Root is in there, in that house, in that family. Even after 20 years, the strongest connection, the rooted feeling takes me back right there, amidst my mother’s love, siblings love-hate equations, the school, the friends, the relatives, the guests, the festivals, the troubles, the happiness, all memories are from there. I think it’s the ageing factor that my memories outweigh my dreams and keep taking me back to my origin, my safe haven, my roots, validating the feeling of belonging.

All else that became a part of me and kept getting added to my life are the secondary roots, only as a qualification but not necessarily in importance. With every new milestone, a new secondary root got added, embedding a part of me in each new place. My roots expanded, covering more ground, and stabilizing me more.
Teen to Adult life is too tumultuous and passes in a whirlwind of emotions and lessons of life while adding roots that developed while adapting to these changes. From school boards to career shaping in degree college to actual career and office politics, between studying and working, playing the office politics, or being played by the office politics, several roots grow, adapting to the environment. Like buttress roots develop and give the ability to prevent yourself from falling off by learning how to stay stable. Clasping roots help one to clasp onto an aim or person to go through in life. Like respiratory roots, some people become part of you that help you relax and breathe and take it easy. And while so many different types of roots develop, it’s safe to say that one is grounded and stable. But beware of the parasitic roots, do not let it grow and start depending on others for your own happiness.

And then comes a stage in life when you meet the special someone, not essential to living but a norm, nonetheless. You are pretty much uprooted and replanted with the best wishes of the primary roots and newly developed prop roots to take onto the new life and flourish in it. And what follows are more roots, new spouse and new house that becomes your world. And no, it doesn’t stop there, there is the new set of roots with a special tag called in-laws, lucky ones get a good set and the not-so-lucky ones, well, that’s a discussion for another time.

And while our roots grow deeper and expand their way into the worldly muck to help us remain established firmly, along comes the new shoot. This new shoot is part of our roots but with a fresh new root system of its own. This is the beautiful gift of life that we pass on, nurture and water to help it grow into a beautiful life, inside out, roots to the treetop. And I have 2 beautiful daughters who are my biggest anchors in the current stage of my life. Undoubtedly, my mother is my primary root just as I am my daughters.’

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