Hi Radhika, Thank you so much for sharing your incredible journey with us. We are really proud to have you on our INCREDIBLE MOTHERS OF INDIA segment.
Tell us something about yourself, your childhood, college days.
I grew up in a typical middle class household. Our extended family was spread all over Delhi/NCR and hence holidays meant crazy fun time with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The childhood was usual. School and college were fine too. I was unwell for a major part of my childhood and adolescence; hence wasn’t allowed a lot of physical/outdoorsy activities. But, the silver lining, as there has always been one, was that I became a voracious reader. Writing naturally followed that. I think the most beautiful ability one can develop, is to communicate deeply and freely, with the world as well as oneself; and writing is always a good step in that direction.
My adolescence was also when I picked up the now almost obsessive need to craft broken things into something useful or beautiful. I found it extremely unwinding. It helped me oil my brains back into functioning, whenever I’d hit a writer’s block.
How did you meet your husband?
We started working together in 2001. That was my first job and he proved to be a source of immense support and guidance. He and I, and a few other friends, were thick as thieves; always hung out together. In a lot of ways, my husband’s nature and thoughts have many parallels with my father, a man whom I admire more than anyone else in the world. I think that worked as the strongest magnet. He and I, together, weathered a few formidable storms in our lives. Years passed, and our relationship developed a kind of comfort and trust, which we had never experienced before. We could both sense how difficult it would be, to ever find it again. Although, it surprised us both. Our choices and our opinions on almost everything, and even what we expected of our lives, had always been poles apart. But in a few years, those choices started to merge, seamlessly. That’s when we knew for sure, fate was pushing us towards each other. When our fathers put a seal of consent on our relationship, the last few specks of doubt were removed. The rest, as they say, is history.
What kind of field you were working in, before you quit?
I have over twelve years of experience in Learning and Development. I worked for a few years, and when I felt the proverbial glass ceiling closing in on me, I knew it was time to add to my educational qualifications. I was fortunate enough to get through, SIBM, Pune. After an MBA, I worked for another few years, till my son was born. I have worked across ITeS, Telecom, Travel and Tourism and BFSI sectors. In my last assignment I was heading the Training Vertical of a BFSI company.
Why did you quit?
The decision, in a way, just sneaked up on me. My pregnancy, while in the initial stages, proved to be a little too taxing for my body. The truth is, in the heat of ambition, I had been pummeling my body for years, with improper food and inadequate sleep. So I guess, after a point my body just folded up. At the time I conceived, I was doing almost 12-15 hour workdays with about four hours of travel. It was insane. The doctor said, I would have to go easy on myself, in order to protect my baby. The moment I heard the doctor, my mind was just made up. I decided I just wanted to relax and prepare myself for the baby to come.
The decision zapped everyone, including my husband and my father. And most of all, me. For a while, I thought it was the overwhelming hormones talking. But when I saw my son for the first time, I knew staying away from him for 8-10 hours of the day, is something I just wouldn’t be able to endure.
How has life changed after your son was born?
I often quip, that we haven’t experienced the full length of our emotional continuum, until we become parents. If we think we have been happy before; after we have a child, we come to realize how happy we can really be. And conversely, we think that we have been frustrated before, but we know what real frustration means when we have to replay the same 45 second rhyme for your child for five hours at a stretch. And somehow, when you wake up the next morning, you are all set for a day like that, all over again!
I believe I have become much more of ‘everything’ since my son was born. Now, I work harder and I tire a lot more, yet I wake up far more relaxed and full of excitement. I laugh more heartily and I cry more frequently about things which perhaps deserve neither. I lose my temper ever so often and I forgive more easily. I sing and dance more freely. I fear so much more, but my faith is far stronger. It’s a fascinating time, and every day I am rediscovering who I am as a person.
How does your typical day at home look like?
Hmmm…a typical day – that is the one thing I don’t have in my life, since I quit my job. I have never been big on routines, anyway. One day I’d wake up at 6, do yoga, have a leisurely cup of tea on the balcony and do some writing. Next day, I’d wake up at 11 because I had only hit the bed at 4 in the morning, after a marathon writing session. Although, after my son was born, this kind of a laissez-faire schedule, is only an illusion. He is the one who really calls the shots, when it comes to what I should do and when. But I guess, for a definition’s sake, my typical day now means 80% fun and 20% work.
Do you regret any decision?
Oh yes. Lots of things. I regret investing my time and attention, in a few people who didn’t deserve it. I regret not investing enough time and attention in a few skills which definitely deserved it, and I let them wither away. I regret not realizing soon enough, how inadequate my job was in offering me the happiness quotient I expected from my life. I regret taking as long as we did, to move out of the rut of a metro city’s life. I regret letting a few people slip away, because I thought there always will be more time, to catch up later. I regret not taking care of my body as much as I should have. But hey! What is life without regrets, eh?
How do you see yourself in the future?
For the next few years, at least, I see myself as a writer/mother who wakes up every day, wondering, which one of these aspects of her life, will she get to focus more on, today. Once my son is a little older, and requires my attention a little less, I intend to write a lot more and get engaged with a few charitable projects, which I have been meaning to, for a while. And I look forward to travelling a lot more, than I currently do.
What are your hobbies and passion?
The thing I am most passionate about is having the freedom to do what makes my life happier, richer and more meaningful, at that moment. Writing and reading has always been a big part of that. Also movies. My husband and I are movie freaks, and are infamous for our weekend movie marathons; because of which we often cancel our weekend plans with friends and family. I love turning throw – aways and broken household items into something meaningful and usable. I have a few drawers full of such items. I love spending time with those drawers. I guess, the sweet sense of possibilities, that I find in those drawers, entices me. I love to plan vacations and travel itineraries, for myself or for my friends. At any point in time, I have at least a few WIP itineraries on my computer.
Any word of advice for all the mothers and would be mothers out there?
The only thing I will say is – have a child when you are ready to have one. Not because the biological clock is ticking, or because everyone of your friends already has one, or because you can’t dodge your mother-in-laws questions anymore. And then, when you do decide to have one; give it your all. Having a baby is a big responsibility; one I am sure, every woman since the dawn of mankind, has felt inundated with at some time or the other. But the beauty of this job is that rising up to the occasion is just so easy, if we just try a little harder. Our children are the most forgiving teachers, we will ever find.
Any advice for your son?
Be free – In your spirit, in your words, in your dreams and in your life. Care for those who care for you and try to provide for those, who are in need of your kindness. In life, nothing is more blessed a thing, than the power to give.
Interview co-ordinated for IWI: Rhiti Bose