My mother was my inspiration, my guide, my guiding light. Growing up in a household of so many children, there were often times when I felt really lost and confused. At those times, just looking at my mother’s ever-smiling face brought instant calmness and equanimity to me.
As I have often mentioned in my other posts, I was a stage actor during my college days. It was not easy to follow that dream, given the time that my childhood days were those when women were expected to follow certain societal rules. There were certain expectations that women were supposed to fulfill at all ages, first as a daughter, then sister, then wife and then as a mother. Doing things which were beyond the traditional roles wasn’t something commonly done or encouraged. Of course having a dream that completely defied common norms was just out of the question.
It helped that I went to a girls’ school. The fact that there was nobody to play boys’ roles helped my love for acting. I was energetic and animated, and hence picked up for most boys’ roles by my teachers for schools plays. If anybody in my family expressed reluctance, my teachers would scoff it. Soon it became normal for them to see me act on the stage.
When I went to college, the audience and productions parameters increased. My family again started expressing reluctance. Sometimes I would lose faith and think of giving up acting. And that is when each time my mother would step in. Away from the glaring eyes of my brothers, she would tell me harden up. She would tell me that if I don’t stick up for myself, nobody else will. Even if she loved me, there will be times when she won’t be able to openly support me and at those times it will be my own perseverance that will help me do anything in life.
I can never forget those messages from my mother. Though my acting stint did not last too long as I had to give it up after my marriage because of contrasting views of my new family, her values always stayed with me. Each time I faced a hardship in the my new family with so many sisters in law and their egos and eccentricities, I would look at the loving faces of my husband and children and keep my faith. I knew that though none of them could openly stand up for me and defy some of the unfair rules of the extended family, my husband and children loved me.
But more than anything else, I knew that I was the one who had to love myself first and foremost. I was the one who had to stick up for myself, believe in myself and keep the faith. There would be enough hand more opportunities to get de-railed, demotivated and give up or give in; but the choice was in my hands. If I continued to believe in myself and remembered what I was, nothing else would really matter in life. And these golden messages from my mother have made me a better, more self-reliant person for the rest of my life.