4

Grandmother Queen Empress

A couple of years back, I had looked forward, in great anticipation, to when I turned sixty, which day was peeping at me then, from just around the next corner. I had been dining off this feather in my matronly cap, for a few years. Those of you, who are still green, and in their youthful forties & fifties yet, do not appreciate this sense of complete and total, uninhibited freedom that SIXTY under the belt gives! My grey hair and general appearance permits me the licence (among more gainful pursuits),  to give the appreciative , unabashed, motherly ‘once over’ to a passing swashbuckling local hero, while lesser mortals like the swooning PYTs have to dart furtive glances, under dancing eyelids, at said Lothario. I can even give this hero a familiar grandmotherly pat on his back, without anybody turning a hair. Can any of my forty-ish, fifty-ish friends do this? Nah!

Of course, I am a grandmother, and have been one for close to a decade. My daughter completed my happiness by presenting me with first one, and then a second grand daughter. But as any self respecting woman of Indian origin will know, you can only earn those final brownie points when your son, if you are fortunate enough to have borne a child of the masculine gender, presents you with a grandson. My son thereafter obliged, with a bit of help from my daughter-in-law! My bosom should have swelled with appropriate gratification at being thus elevated in status. I have a confession to make—I am extremely partial to little girls, and was greedily hoping for a third grand daughter! Soon after THE EVENT, a well wishing aunt, gushed at me over the telephone line from far away U.S.of A,“ You must be really thrilled with having a grand son to carry on your family name.” Quite a puzzling statement I thought, wondering of what Empire that dear lady thought I was the reigning matriarch. I suddenly realized that there was an expectant hush screaming at me over the ether. I did not have the heart to tell this true blue desi woman that I had actually still been hoping for a third grandchild of the fairer sex. I hurriedly pulled myself together and responded appropriately over the phone line, of how my happiness was now complete. That with one fell swoop, my newly born grandson & heir had ensured that I had the opportunity of mopping up all the spilt liquid from my overflowing cup! Towards this end, and lest my dear son & his wife thought that I was not in transports of joy at their new son, and I was actually, I had set out that fateful day, a few months ago, to spend quality time with the latest addition to my crown jewels.

In hind sight, maybe I should have just stayed home. But this tale, however, has to be a sequel……….

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21

A Milestone…………..

Yesterday I finally severed the umbilical cord to yet another chapter of my life…I wrote in formally and quit my job. I had been meaning to do this for quite a few months, but it was as, if I did, then I would suddenly become rudderless, and be cast adrift upon alien waters. So I clung on to a life style which had taught me discipline, shown me focus and brought in the wherewithal to care for my children without us being forced to tackle major lifestyle changes. I was not in the first flush of youth when our family had a tragedy to face, but I was grateful that I was given the opportunity of earning a decent living, without it smacking of charity, worse, pity.

Maybe right at the beginning, if I had been able to peep into the future and been privvy to the many pitfalls in my career path, better sense might have prevailed…or maybe not! I clutched at every straw, sought any escape to lend focus to a world suddenly gone topsy-turvy. One moment my life had it all. A wonderful husband rising to dizzy heights in his chosen career, children who never caused us any grief and only made us proud and happy to be their parents, my warm & loving parents & in laws. Then one dark day, in one fell swoop, everything changed. I had to work, I needed to focus and pull myself up and carry on with living. And so began a career, at mid life, which spanned twenty three years

Since I was going to start working in familiar surroundings and not among strangers, my self confidence began seeping back. But it was rather daunting to be aware that I was joining a mostly male-centric working executive community. Also, women were not such a major chunk of the workforce in those years when I started working. It took me a while, but it was enjoyable and satisfying that I was able to pull my weight, put the proverbial clothes on our backs & food on the table, plus add a few frills to our lives, with my new role of Provider. The sun came out from behind the dark clouds of the previous nightmarish months, the children who had suddenly been clinging to me, began to also realize that I would be there for them-always. They had no need for apprehensions, apprehensions of any kind. I was always going to be their rock, there for them, whatever the future might hold.

As you can imagine, working a 9 to 5 corporate job helps shape and sharpen, and redefine your personality. It gives you the discipline of time management, helps you multi task better than the juggling clown at a circus, calms your mind to deal with tricky situations on the job, which adds to life experience, not just work experience. Instinctively I felt worthy and good to be part of the workforce. I went where I wanted, I chose to do and say what I thought & wished. I took decisions for my children and their future, unflinchingly, knowing full well that maybe in hindsight these may not always be the correct ones. But by then, one also had honed the skills to tweak any wrong decision made. All because I was a working woman…I felt this was what had given me poise and self confidence and with it, freedom.

I moved to the city, continued working well into the explosive computer age of the ‘90’s & the dawn of the new century. I learnt on the new job, stuck it out for the comfort factor. Made mistakes, erred in many a judgement, learnt not to trust the world around me without first checking their bona fides. It was as if nothing could faze me. I was made of sterner stuff, and blessed with many good friends and confidantes, so I was able to take such hiccups in my stride, towards eventual grandmotherhood.

Then I began feeling bewildered. The juggling of life’s balls was not smoothly perfect. What I could cope with just a few years ago, tied hands & blindfolded, often seemed beyond me lately. My priorities had shifted. My personal  responsibilities continued & multiplied, but these of course one could not ignore and wish away. Yet I had begun to resent not having sufficient “me” time. I seemed mainly to have to often think of what was expected of me. I thought that I needed to, I had earned it and I yearned for it, and so I took the conscious decision, to have the flexibility to spend my time as I wished. To counting butterflies maybe, in far off & wondrous, yet unexplored lands, before my eyesight faded and my joints audibly creaked. To spoiling my delicious grand children silly, behind their parents’ backs. To enjoying the company of my friends,in giggly gaggles, at lunches or the movies, or at short getaway holidays.

And so, I quit my job.