Like millions of other girls from the lower socio-economic background in India, she got married at 14, had her first child at 16.
She never went to school, could not read or write.
I worked in a multinational company, lived in one of the poshest localities in the city, traveled around the world on holidays.
Every time I look at my life closely, I realize that I owe every bit of the professional success, self empowerment and liberation which I achieved in last few years, to this illiterate and poor women. She liberated me, made me who I am today, helped me to fulfill my lifelong dreams of being a self independent, and an empowered individual.
It was the summer of 2010. I was planning to visit my husband who was then posted in the United Kingdom, with my two kids 7 and 4-year-old. I was a full-time, stay at home mom, living in India with my two kids and my ailing 86 years old father-in-law. My husband had been working in the United Kingdom for the previous three years.
Throughout my entire childhood and early adulthood, I had only one persistent dream – to have a successful career. I wanted to see myself economically empowered and self-independent.
But destiny had planted many obstacles almost at every corner of my life – be it the chronic poor health of my kids, constantly moving from one country to another for my husband’s job or having to take care of an elderly family member – I never ever got the ‘chance’ to start working. But, I just could not give up on my dream of having a career one day. As my second child became three, I grew extremely ambitious and positive about to be able to start working.
But for several months, I could not successfully hire even a single nanny for my kids. Multiple behavioral and psychological issues of my father-in-law made it impossible for any adult to live in our house. Sending the kids to daycare was not a solution, as without a caregiver leaving my father-in-law alone at home was the biggest challenge. Finding a caregiver who would agree to live with him was an impossible task.
In my husband’s absence, I became a full time stay at home mom and caregiver for my father-in-law for more than three years. Apparently, more I was trying to get closer to my dreams, more they were moving further away from me. But, I could not stop dreaming even for a single day. I used to always fancy to be economically independent and empowered one day though I knew my dreams were not in sync with my reality.
My reality was, I could not stay away from home even for half an hour if my kids were not with me.
My reality was, it had been several years since I got my last degree and I never had worked anywhere.
My reality was, apart from possessing some general proficiency and being hard-working, I did not have any proven skill-sets or training.
My reality was, I lived in a country with the huge unemployment rate, where getting a job was difficult to even for those who had many years of experience.
But, I could not afford to abandon my dreams even for a day. I constantly nurtured them in my heart.
One day, a friend suggested me to attend an interview in a start-up. They were looking for someone to manage their basic administrative work, the previous experience was not mandatory. I went for the interview. They asked me to start immediately.
After coming back home, I started trying to reach out desperately to all my contacts and resources in search of a nanny or a caregiver, without any luck. There was a lady who worked for us as part-time help. My kids were quite comfortable with her, and she was quite familiar with the overall situation of my family. I asked her several times in the previous three years if she would consider working with us full-time, and she always declined as she herself had three kids at home. This time I went back to her once again with the same request, and lot more desperately. She politely refused. I decided to call the employer the next day to inform that I won’t be able to join for some personal reason. Next morning, she came back and told me she changed her mind and wanted to give me a chance to work!
For the next five years, she took care of my kids and my father-in-law probably much better than I did. She loved my kids unconditionally. She would be there in the morning even before the kids get up and would not go home until I am back home in the evening. At times, she neglected her own kids for mine. She would hardly be absent, she used to genuinely care about my situation and knew I could not be frequently absent in a new job. She was the primary and the only reason for which I could pursue my lifelong goals and dreams.
Whenever I look back at my life, I feel overwhelmingly grateful to this lady who changed my entire life in a significantly positive way. I always fall short of words to express my deep gratitude towards her and wanted to share this story with the world as a mark of thankfulness to the woman who gave me my wings. This story could also inspire women who are trying to follow their dreams in spite of lot of odds and hurdles, as giving up on our dreams is not even an option.