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My career took a backseat for marriage and motherhood, and I lost the girl I was. BUT I started again, taking baby steps.
In the state (Bihar) I come from, having a strike at the time of university examination was more of a rule than an exception. As a result, the exam was certain to be postponed and three years of courses often took more time than usual to finish the undergraduate degree.
Though things have pretty much improved now.
I am sure those of you who are from Bihar and Jharkhand will empathize with me on this.
As expected strike delayed my undergraduate degree almost by one year.
Marriage is also early in these states.
So this delay gave enough time to my family to fix my marriage and set my life. As if getting their daughter married was the only goal of their life. As if marriage is the final destination of any girl’s life. Because exams could get delayed but marriage couldn’t.
And thus I got married before the completion of my degree.
A few months later my result was out.
Thank God I had passed with first division or else I would have felt embarrassed in front of my husband as I had blown my own trumpet about getting good results throughout my exams.
My life took a 180-degree turn after marriage, responsibilities and duties took the front seat and career and education shifted to the rear.
Days turned into months and months into years amidst fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of a wife and daughter-in-law.
And then I set foot into the most beautiful phase of my life, motherhood. It felt as if time had got wings.
My life hovered around my two little munchkins. Witnessing their developmental milestones and taking care of them seemed the only goal of my life. I witnessed the purest and most selfless form of love. I was so occupied in my life that the thought of my career and development never crossed my mind.
But for some time now I have been feeling very empty and lost.
Now that my kids were grown up and for most of the day they would be occupied with their studies and other activities, my engagement with kids had tapered off. They were developing self-dependent and confident. I was so happy but that also meant they don’t need me now as much as they did before. My life which used to be filled with chores and errands around my kids had now turned vacant and unoccupied.
This emptiness needed some action and activities to escape the pain of my self-doubt and insecurities, and to make my life fulfilling and happening again.
This is when I turned my focus towards me, myself and my life. What to do now, where should I start from? Am I too old to begin something new or am I young enough to start over? I often found myself caught in the train of thought.
However, I had joined a clinical dietician course for my MSc but had to leave it midway because of my moving to the USA.
So getting a job without any work experience or appropriate degree after such a long gap seemed unimaginable. Moreover, stepping out of my comfort zone and being deprived of the luxury of enjoying the space and time of home seemed even more daunting and terrifying to me.
But I needed badly to do something engaging and committing. When nothing seemed to be working out I immersed myself into reading. I started borrowing books from the library one after another and devoured them in my free time. I interacted with a couple of reading groups and set a reading goal for myself. I also participated in reading challenges to make the reading journey more exciting and inspiring.
I must confess I genuinely came across some life-changing books that not only reduced my stress but also broadened my perspective to see life and instilled empathy in me. I kept a record of my reading streak and competed with other amazing readers who later became my lifelong friends. Meanwhile, we also started putting reviews of the books we finished in the group online, this helped other readers to pick the book of their interest along with me.
And this is how I landed into writing.
Gradually my interest grew and my writing traversed through scribbling from reviews to food articles to creating blogs and content for my website. It kept me on my toes and I was as busy as a bee.
Though I was not being monetarily benefited I was feeling productive and efficacious. I was feeling happy and content. Connecting with more women like me made me feel empowered and confident. We used to meet up every fortnight in the library and read our write-ups aloud in front of other fellow readers. With their fair feedback, I became more eloquent and exact and It enhanced my listening skills as well.
Although I wasn’t making any money from what I was doing I felt capable and worthy.
I also joined a group of volunteers and helped teach other women who lacked basic knowledge of English and helped kids with their homework and other assignments. The joy of giving back to the community was absolute bliss and weighed more than any rupees and bucks. The fulfilling feeling of contributing to society was unparalleled and unmatched.
Whatever I was missing in my life had now gone away. I was happy and satisfied.
It’s when I came across some websites that empowered women by providing them a platform where women from across the globe felt free to voice their thoughts and opinions. I connected with them and started sharing my voice and perspective with them.
I got a new identity and recognition through my ideas and writing there. Today I can say I am at my happy place.
Image source: a still from short film Ghar ki Murgi
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
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