It makes me vulnerable to tell this story, but I guess vulnerability is essential to our human nature and there’s too much time wasted in hiding it. If I had to tell one major story, it would have to be about my mother. She is one of the most maternal, caring, self-sacrificing people I have ever known. As a compassionate person, and because her family were quite poor, she decided to work hard and go into Medicine. To be a female doctor where she came from was not a small achievement. But at the same time, she had two children. She married into a Medical family too, so she was expected to succeed in her career. Now, the point where I entered, she was already trying to marry the domestic and the professional aspects of her life. When she was in India, offered the chance to study and work in the UK, I was only two, and my sister was seven. Under a sense of duty, she was encouraged to leave me with my Nani, my maternal grandmother. I cannot complain about how my Nani was towards me: I was totally loved and cared for. But something about this has left its mark on me: I didn’t know my father because he left the country to better his career when I was born, and soon I would not know my mother too well either. Gradually, my mother became a stranger. When I turned five and could start school, I was brought to the UK, but this was now very hard for me because I thought of my grandparents as my carers. Also, as my sister and I grew up, we had to deal with my parents’ very unsettled careers that involved babysitters, moving around and periods left with different relatives.
That gap of not knowing my parents has never really closed. Certainly, to know someone as an infant is very different than knowing them later on. Infants have no judgement. I hardly remember my parents that way. I mainly remember their strange features, not really associating them as my own tribe. Then, I had to also adjust to a new culture in the UK, so I felt even more alone with no one around that knew me, spoke my alien language, someone who would be a real friend. Except, thankfully, there was my sister. Dealing with her own issues, but at least she was there.
All this has impressed on my memory a feeling of grief and sorrow. I don’t know if it is mine or my mother’s sorrow at the choices she had to make. More than anything, this affects me now in my relationship with my children. As early as I could remember, I had the strong desire to form a bond with my children where I would always be involved with their lives. But, knowing the fragility of the human experience, it also became a fear that, what if I can’t achieve this? And in this grappling, there has had to be a huge letting-go, that I can’t control what experiences are meant for my children. Just as I couldn’t control what experiences shaped my own childhood. And in that realisation, there is certainly a grief at how everything seems so vulnerable, but also a search for something enduring. Surely, love endures the human fragility and shows its power within and beyond our human limitations.