Nandini, a dignified, youthful 40-something Indian woman clad in frumpy mom-jeans rolled up enough to reveal suede turquoise high-top sneakers boldly asked me if she could sit at my table in the Delhi airport and wait with me. After just a few short minutes, she shyly confessed how fearful she was of going out alone at night. (Is it that dangerous? I didn't think so but perhaps if you go where you shouldn't...) I benefited from her desire to wait til the sun would rise, and we talked for at least 4 hours while sipping coffee to stay awake.
Originally from Calcutta, she now lives in Scotland with a partner. She was married off young (pre-arranged by her parents) and divorced just a few years ago. I felt there is more to her story than she was willing to share, but from what I gathered, the essence is that her husband did not want her to have the higher education she desired, so they parted. Currently getting her PHD in sociology, she seemed heartbroken that she no longer has any communication with her 15 year old son since he chose to live with his father in India. Separation and divorce in India has quite a stigma which is certainly not a surprise. Nandini's mum had an arranged marriage and to this day, she attributes her mum's sudden death of a brain aneurysm at age 47 to a love-less marriage, full of sacrifice.
|graffiti mural along the road in Rishikesh|
"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world,
as in being able to remake ourselves." --Gandhi
While India is a world different from Texas culturally, I see more and more how we are all just people looking for contentment and balance. Our lengthy talk about working mums verses stay at home mums could be summed up by our need to do something that would create our own world and fulfill a longing for a sense of purpose in our lives. Her own mum, surrendered a career twice to the needs of her family. Starting over each time, she felt her mum lost a part of herself and became a little more detached from herself- her True self.
The intension of Nandini's heart was displayed not by what she said but how she said it-- through her eyes. Her eyes revealed a person who's soul was healing. Conversing with this woman, I could clearly see our similarities... as mothers, as women, as a person seeking more. Two strangers, linked by a common desire to embrace the life we envision for ourselves-- rather than run from it.