(As told to Antara Majumder)
(Names changed to protect identities)
It was an unusual Sunday morning. I lazed around with my coffee mug. Children are out on a camp from school. And…finally…I found some ‘me’ time by the balcony.
I heard Vivan discussing the academic and behavioural progress of the kids with his mother, at the breakfast table. Clearly, they weren’t very happy about my absence. My mother-in-law cited examples from the neighbourhood of mothers who have happily given up their careers to bring up the kids. Vivan switched the topic quickly, to how I should use my time more effectively, as most days I work from home.
I smiled to myself. We had a lot of discussion about this, which ultimately ended in a heated argument.
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I met Vivan in college. My academic career had always been commendable. My participation in college events and a pleasant personality attracted several boys. However, I fell for Vivan despite his mediocrity in all levels. He was a simple, innocent boy who loved me with all his heart. I completed graduation with flying colours. Vivan merely secured a second division.
We got married. Both of us were working for two IT giants. Vivan got the job despite his low grades. Married life was a prolonged journey of friendship, balancing our careers and personal life. Then the unthinkable happened. One morning I discovered I was pregnant.
I wasn’t ready for it. But the mother in me overshadowed the career woman. Nine months later, I gave birth to twin boys.
My world started revolving around Ahit and Ahan, the apples of my eyes. The roller-coaster ride involved me staying up at night, incomplete projects, absent domestic help, a not-so-willing mother-in-law and minuscule help from Vivan.
Things got hectic beyond my imagination. I juggled my career and two tiny lives all alone. Vivan was busy climbing the corporate ladder.
Eventually I decided to move to a project where I can work from home most of the time. It didn’t promise career growth. The mother in me agreed it was more important to take care of the kids. I couldn’t watch my kids being deprived of the care they should get. I struggled day and night with my projects, assignments, kids’ homework, their extracurricular activities, an ailing mother-in-law and thousands of household chores. Lack of sleep at night was normal.
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I tried talking to Vivan, but in vain. He fails to understand that a maid is not a solution, whereas a little accommodation and collaboration from the family members, especially him, can make the situation better. He also complains that my career is not moving as planned, hence he has more financial responsibilities now. Therefore he needs to focus more on his career than domestic trivialities. I was taken aback. In the heat of the moment, I pointed out that I’m the one who pays the EMI of the flat. This made things worse. Arguments followed by an awkward silence and frightened kids.
I wondered what changed Vivan so much. I fought, cried, talked; nothing helped. I suggested counselling then, but he wasn’t ready. Our relationship lacked warmth, lacked intimacy.
Vivan often talked about women excelling in their careers, as well as in motherhood. They even excel in presenting themselves. I felt hollow.
Am I not doing enough? Did I leave any stone unturned? I searched for the answer, day in…day out. I always believed that I am good, but never good enough to comply with all the needs. I am not Superwoman, just moderately good in everything. At 35, I still look like in my late 20s, but not gorgeous enough. I earn a salary to pay the EMI of my 3 BHK and a few other needs of the family, but not enough to manage a decent lifestyle. I sing well, speak well, still my PR skill is not top-notch. Strangely, Vivan buys expensive clothes and jewellery for me, which I never asked for, but fails to acknowledge my efforts.
I started withdrawing from him. I spent sleepless nights saddened by the thought that Vivan doesn’t love me any more. What went wrong in our relationship?
Do I love him? Honestly, I don’t know. In fact, I don’t feel the need to analyse this anymore. All I care about is my kids, my rays of hope…who encourages me to sing, scribble, play and more importantly, laugh.