Yeah, I totally adored my dad for he was so perfect. He was like a leader, so commanding and authoritative, so punctual and perfect in everything he did. For me then a ‘hero’ was majorly the way a 'man' was portrayed in movies and my dad played the role really well. He was brave, he was earning well, his word was law and I knew he had the guts and physical strength to beat down the bad guys who troubled his daughters! During my college days, he took the decision for us (me and my sister) and we just followed him without any doubts. He wasn't very friendly or approachable most of the time but that didn’t bother us much. We were happy that he cared for us so much that he always gave us the best. Not to mention we sisters had an amazing childhood.
So what was the heroin doing then?
Dancing around the trees? No, she was dancing to other’s tunes.
Mom was a bank employee. She joined and retired as a clerk so nothing amazed us compared to our dad who joined as a Project Engineer and retired as an Director of the same organisation. Mom never had much say at home and she was either cooking or running around for the laundry, groceries and veggies. We ‘used’ her to seek permission from dad for school and college tours, to sign report cards and when we weren’t sure if dad’s mood was ok for us to go and chat with him. Yes, dad was like a school principal and mom was like the class leader :)
My mom who excelled in her studies became a banker, a profession she loved. Soon after her marriage, she had to support her in-laws as a bunch forgetting/ disowning her parents, brothers and sisters, who according to the Indian custom become outsiders overnight. Again the society demanded her to prove that she is a woman only if she can bear kids (Note - one wouldn’t be enough, you have to prove twice) She almost died when she delivered my sister who was an obese child. Who cared ! She did her duty as an Indian wife and Indian daughter-in-law. Soon after she recovered she had to rush back to work. I still remember my sister being a very clingy child. Once when she was left at a day care, she was holding the gate crying all day refusing to go inside. When we went to pick her up in the evening she was sleeping holding the gate railing !! The in-laws bunch whom my mom strived to support were nowhere around then for help. Most of the days when mom left for work her eyes were moist and I would hold my sister tight along with an ‘aayah’ to stop her and let my mom go to work. My mom wasn’t my hero then.
When we grew up, mom’s responsibilities grew too. She had added responsibility of taking care of our exam scores. If we scored less, she was questioned. Dad was a workaholic and he was busy building his career. Of course we as a family benefited too but my mom who wanted to join civil services had to let her dreams go, only to bring us up. She sacrificed her dreams and career for us and most Indian mothers were obliged to do it. My mom wasn’t my hero then.
Very little did we understand her struggles then that we complained for serving only hot steaming ‘idlis’ for break fast everyday, when she hardly had time to cook for us. Most of the days she was late to work and we neither offered her a helping hand nor bothered that she was late to work. We just ignored her problems. She gave us freedom to explore things on our own, she encouraged us to try different hobbies, supported and stood by us irrespective of our mistakes. She was like a friend to us that we were comfortable sharing everything with her. My mom wasn’t my hero then.
What changed after my marriage?
My dad was still my hero and I was sure no guy could take that place ever in my life. Surprisingly a couple of years after I was married, the life I had dreamt of [In brief - a happily ever after story] was totally different from what I was facing. I understood life really late.
When I was married and stepped into a new family which wasn’t as crowded as what my mom had to face I still felt extremely uncomfortable. My place was just an hours drive from my mom's place and still I felt lonely. Now my place becomes my mom's place and some stranger's place becomes mine !! Everything was different and difficult. Adapting myself to the new place, people, habits and just everything made me feel I am losing myself. I had this responsibility of getting up early, try new dishes in the kitchen to please my mother-in-law, look fresh and good most of the time and all these were too much for me to handle and I only yelled at mom for not preparing me for this. She would just smile and ignore. I too had to ‘prove’ the society that I can bear a child and the pressure was bothering me too much. Though I was not at all prepared I had to do what was expected from me as a newly married Indian woman. I was only crying when my test results read ‘positive’ and everyone around me were celebrating.
The truth sinked in and my life wasn’t only about me anymore. I couldn’t give up my career for my 3 months old daughter, I complained. Work-Life balance was the toughest test I had to undergo. I stood small near my mom for the first time ! I understood that my mom was the one holding us all together as a family, she was running around to accomplish her goals and ours too. She shouldered the responsibility of all the family members, including dad. She had to play multiple roles but she never complained.
I have never seen her crying or very worried. When she had to be tough she stood strong like a rock all alone !! She never sought any help or support. She just gave her best, ignoring what life gave her in return. She was really bold. Embarrassments and humiliations didn’t stop her at all. I knew she wouldn’t beat up the bad guys who came our way but she taught us to identify the bad guys and stay away.
In the wide spread land full of huge rough rocks like the society full of male chauvinism and gender stereotypes, she made her hold on the ground strong like the small tiny stones that gets buried inside the soil. She didn’t get lost but made her hold really strong.
My mom isn’t my hero even now. My dad is still my hero but my mom is a warrior ! I didn’t want to be a hero anymore, I wanted to be a warrior.