23rd November, 2017. Around 23:30 pm.
I was at my parental home. My mother was recovering from malaria. I and my husband had decided to go the nuclear family way which had caused ripples amongst my in-laws, I had fought with my best friend a few hours ago, which had torn us apart and earlier in the day, I had been diagnosed with postpartum depression.
In short, I was a complete emotional mess.
I was sitting on a sofa in the living room area with the lights off. The only light in the room was the street light which was reflecting off the walls from the window I was looking at.
In a few minutes time, I was going to turn 27. Yet, the storm within me was too strong for me to even feel cheerful about it. I had just put my babies to sleep and was staring blankly outside the window, looking at the lawn of our house.
Just then my mother came and sat down next to me. We started conversing in my mother-tongue.
I’m translating our conversation in English below:
Mom: Why aren’t you sleeping yet? Are the babies asleep?
I just nodded.
Mom: What’s wrong dear? Are you alright?
Me (I didn’t look at her) : So much has happened and everyone thinks that I’m at fault, I feel like such a sore loser when I see others managing their babies, I get worried. Will I be able to raise them like you have raised us? I don’t know maa, I’m scared. I’m worried about how will I be judged.
My mother put her hands on my face and looked directly in my eyes. For the first time in my life, I felt that it was not my mother but another woman. A woman who is 62 YO, a woman who is a successful doctor, a successful mother, a wife who stood by her husband, our father unconditionally, through thick and thin.
Mom: Yashodhra, my sweetheart, you are my daughter. I know you more than anyone else. You are strong. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t feel helpless. Stand up and fight for what you feel is right. People are going to judge you anyway. Remember, you’re not answerable to anyone but yourself.
I forced myself to smile.
Mom: There’s one more thing I want to tell you.
Me : What is it Maa?
Mom : I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being there for you as you would have liked me to. But I promise to stand by you unconditionally in whatever decision you take. Just make me and your dad proud, ok?
I couldn’t hold myself anymore. I just said “maa”, hugged her and started crying. She was crying too.
I don’t know how much time we spent crying like that. But after what seemed like ages, we broke our hug as she looked at the wall clock and kissed my forehead.
“Happy birthday my princess!”
I just hugged her again. I just didn’t want to let her go.