She came into the family as a 4th child after 11 months in the womb, born in August a year after the independence, a child not planned, her eldest sister was married by the time she arrived, two brothers, the youngest being 11 years older to her. Due to late birth she was born with a deformity, one hand short that got entangled in the intestines in her mother’s womb.
It was in 1948, her birth year her dad started a business which went on to become so successful that in those days they became the richest in their town.
Her parents didn’t want her to continue college after school but the eldest brother, a bit of a rebel fought the family and got her into college in nearby city and even an admission in hostel.
In her days in college is when she realized her true self, that she existed, that she had a life. Not only did she complete her graduation but also got a B.ed degree to make her the first double graduate of the business minded gujarati family.
When she graduated, this girl, daughter of a multi millionaire family had to be married off, she didn’t want to marry but when the eldest brother talked her into it she agreed.
She knew since she didn’t have a hand, an alliance wasn’t going to come so soon and if it would come it would be because of her family’s financial status and not her. Still it was this brother who fought for her, she felt she had to listen to him. The younger brother wanted her to not marry but the elder brother too strong, too dominant and too much respected wanted her to.
She did have a few emotions for a couple of guys in college but her handicap would ensure she would never feel comfortable or at ease with them.
Alliance and alliance would go by nothing would work because of her deformity. She was sure she wouldn’t marry someone who was marrying her for her money or family status. Eventually my dad, a diploma holder in commercial art and a relatively very poor man who literally lived in a hut agreed. He was impressed by her snooty attitude that mom used to put on to put off guys. Eventually Mom realized he was too poor to take care of her.
When she questioned it was told that her parents would buy her a flat, everything she needed and dad would be helped. He was a young commercial designer from a big city college, qualified but poor.
Eventually the marriage took place; the flat was bought for them in a suburb near to the eldest brother’s house far from where dad lived. Despite dad not wanting it they wanted to protect the sister from dad’s 2 younger brothers who were also in the same poor boat, qualified but poor they would use the house if they stayed in the same vicinity.
Soon they had a son, although the mother and the father both had longed for a girl even thought of a name of a girl, it was a boy they would have to make do with. Another set of twin boy’s tip-toed in their life thanks to their aspirations of a daughter!!!
For a while things were ok. Her mother in law was a very good lady however she didn’t like the idea of staying with the son in his wife’s house so often would go back to the hut of the two younger brothers of Dad. Dad was mighty attached with his mom and he didn’t like this. This all was affecting him slowly. Dad separated from his friends, who would also taunt him about marrying a very rich girl, about toeing her.
All this humiliation was tough on him. He couldn’t work, couldn’t identify, would fight with mom, got violent a couple of times, left the eldest kid at a bus-stop in a big city, miraculously he was found. He was even sent to a mental asylum where he was given electric shocks too, eventually he was diagnosed with mental depression and Schizophrenia.
It was at this stage a relative, an uncle of mum, told her to get out of the big city, away from the relatives, the eldest brother agreed. She with three kids in a week’s time when she was not sure what to do and what not she left for a small town for a job in a hostel run by that uncle for the girls of their community.
She went away, her husband not knowing where the kids and his wife were. For four years she lived in tatters although the girls in the hostel were to become her best friends. She always though, was not sure what was happening. Finally one day, Dad found her out and came to meet us. This was when the youngest of us three brothers just spelt out, Mom can’t we all stay together?? I cursed my brother for that because I hated Dad and felt sorry for Mom. Eventually Dad would again lose it. But Mom somehow gathered the courage and put her foot down for the first time over her elder brother and told him that Dad was staying with us. She herself also had encountered a few males trying to get friendly with this woman who had no husband around. She decided to go back to her home town where no one knew of our past, about dad’s past most importantly. She thought she could revive everything.
Once in the small town she sold her big city flat in Mumbai’s posh locality and built a bungalow where we still live. Probably living 4 years away from the influence of relatives had made her think, independently at that. This time she was clear in her mind. She started tuitions as she didn’t want to leave the house to dad. She stayed home, did tuitions from 7 in the morning at our house to 11, cooked and would again get back to tuitions from 2 to 7 in the evening again cook. The three kids would keep eating piles of rotis and this lady with one hand would cook and make rotis for everyone including her husband. Also taking up the responsibility of earning and providing education to us three kids and setting us up for our lives.
Dad mellowed down but was never able to work. He would assist in the kitchen and in the tuitions but he would have a spell or too when he would lose once in a while in a year or so. Eventually the three sons graduated, Mom exhausted all her savings of the flat of big city in raising these kids. In the nick of time I started contributing and so followed the two little ones a few years later. Life today is a lot better, with Dad almost having a bad spell once in 4-5 years. Mom is happy that her three kids have all settled and married and more importantly are able to stand on their own feet and did not become like their Dad, her biggest fear of life.
Our mother raised us with little support from a dad who was suffering mental depression. In a way it proved to be a blessing in disguise, I guess. We realized that mom was by no means a lady inferior to men; she earned all her life and raised three unbelievably mischievous kids alone almost. If this wouldn’t teach me that a woman is equal to a man I don’t know what would.
In my life there is no great hero. I have the greatest heroine, it is my Mom. For us three kids it was always Mom and nobody else. When my son was born, I told mom, that she would perhaps have to wait a little longer for a granddaughter, my Mom shrugged it off saying we 3 brothers have already given her 3 daughters and she is as satisfied as she ever could be.
Mom early in the morning preparing notes for kids whom she teaches
Had earlier posted this on No Gender Inequality Blog under anonymity, somehow I now don’t think I need to keep this story anonymous anymore. This post is submitted under the theme Overcoming Adversities in a contest to get published on Richa’s blog.