[By RamTulsi Yerra]
I was in the second year of my undergraduate studies when our engagement was solemnized by the elders of our respective families. I got married 6 months later around the same time as college reopened to the dawn of our final year in college. My lecturers were a little disappointed that as an active participant in all competitions I had bowed my head to traditional expectations and conceded to an early marriage . They had pinned hopes on me to achieve at least my masters and contribute something to society and future students.
In all innocent faith and eager to don my new avatar I dived headlong into marital bliss and responsibilities not giving my innermost dreams a second thought.
My final year of studies was an unfocused distracted endeavour and by the time the final exams came around the corner I was happily on my way to impending motherhood. Morning sickness took its toll and instead of motivating myself to excel I chose a route that further indulged my self pity as a newly wed mom- to- be. Out of a total of five papers I appeared only for three and my degree remained incomplete.
My son was born in December and I eased the guilt of my incomplete academic woes with more seemingly pressing responsibilities . I was raised in a joint family with my grandfather at its head. He was a very dynamic self made man with no education but loads of practical experience. He had mastered 6 languages and made it big in the still developing twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
He was keen to provide to all his family members with the comforts and privileges he was deprived of. One of the things he had realized early on in life was that lacunae was the moribund of progress. One had to constantly re-invent and keep moving in a goal oriented direction.
As months passed I got more immersed in my role as a mother and housewife. Education and degree completion were not in my radar by any remote chance. My family members and cousins visited us often and a couple of them began to insist, like my grandfather mother and husband, that I attempt the two papers I had left incomplete and get my graduate certificate in hand.
I was not inclined to do as I thought at that point of time that it was irrelevant. Under duress I agreed half-heartedly to do the needful and having completed my supplementary formalities made lackluster attempts to study. Observing this my husband expressed his dissatisfaction to my mother and in a throwback to childhood supervision she made the decision to come and stay with me and look after my son who was barely 8 months old, while I studied.
This coercive tactic was launched and I was locked inside a room for stipulated periods. Still I admit, I lacked the focus and initiative to do my best. My toddler son’s endearing antics, first spoken words and endearing mischief were another major distraction. Till one fine day my mother told me sternly,
“ In our times graduation was a rarity and even that I graduated with a certificate . You belong to the next generation and you should be ashamed for lagging behind me in that respect”.
These words worked liked a whiplash and I buckled up. I began to put in a lot of effort and muffled my ears to my tiny child’s beseeching knocks “Amma! Amma! Open the door”.
Exam day neared and I gave it my best shot. Earlier I had only secured a second class aggregate but my focused efforts led to a score of a high distinction in my supplementary exams and I managed to average a first class overall.
When I collected my memo, tears of joy rolled down my face and my heart swelled with gratitude for my family members who recognized the potential in me and never gave up on me.
Within 2 years of my first born’s birth I had my daughter and again slipped back into a routine as a mother of two school going children and wife. Years siipped by and I was still in my early thirties, everybody who had encouraged me earlier stepped up their efforts again and in the next few years I went on to complete my M.A, PGDTE and M.Phil. My schedule comprised of sending the kids to school and leaving for college and getting back a little after their return and all of us sitting together at the dining table and completing over respective assignment and academic responsibilities.
There have been very few men and women who could achieve this in our family and relative circles. I don’t say this to gloat over my modest achievement. I say this to reinforce to man woman and child that there are no impossibilities in life.
Sometimes we have to be the learner, sometimes we have to be the trainer and yet at other times cheerleader. One thing we should never be is the spoke in somebody else’s wheel of progress.
The more we educate ourselves the broader does our thinking become. Education is the mother of offsprings called Progress, Tolerance, Enlightenment, Positivity and Goodwill. These in turn make the world a better place to live in. The most appropriate symbolism here would be likening an educated mind to fertile and enriched soil which can only yield a healthy crop as opposed to a weed and worm infested one.
All the crimes today are yields from a badly tilled soil. One can’t resist referring to Nirbhaya’s case where the perpetrators belonged to the same socio economic rung as the victim. But where she was loved and on her way to becoming a doctor purely on the wings of encouragement her parents fanned for her.
A young life cruelly snuffed out when it was on the threshold of becoming a butterfly. Who knows if this very doctor could have saved the life of any beloved family member of the accused?. Today the world is developing at a very fast pace. Chauvinism has had its run and in fighting for their long deserved rights sections of society tend take extreme feminist stances. This is a knee jerk reaction but it should be tempered and logical long lasting solutions envisaged. Humanism should be the ultimate goal. Equal rights for man & woman and child because ultimately it is about the dignity of an individual.
A humane non judgmental approach would make the earth a better place for ourselves and our children to not only eat and breathe but live productively contentedly.
As a closing line I’d like to add what someone I deeply care about, said to me,
“Live life in such a way that it would make your children proud”.
I hope I have.