The sun shines bright, as I wait for this Incredible Woman to turn up for her interview. I am slightly nervous, for this is my first interview face to face with an Incredible Woman after a long gap. I rehearse my questions, I check my hair, I check my pen and notebook (yes, I am the notebook kind, I know it would be easier to simply record her interview on phone, but still).
Suddenly she arrives, just like the sun shining above, she flashes a million watt smile at me, ‘Sorry, this is my first interview, so was getting geared up, you see, and you look fabulous too.’ She flicks back her hair and steps down from her car, looking resplendent in her white Dhakai sari.
Some people can brighten your day by simply entering into it. Krishna Chakraborty is one such woman.
She is an IIT Bombay pass out who was her department topper and Best Project Manager Award recipient at Infosys where she had worked for the past 13 years. But her most important role so far has been that of a mother. Why she chose to leave her enriching, well-paying job to be a stay at home mom is what amazed me. I have known her socially, as my Husband’s colleague, but today it is time to know the real her, the Incredible Woman. Excerpts from my interview with her.
Rhiti: ‘First of all thank you Krishna, for agreeing to this interview and for being a part of Incredible Mothers of India. Let us start with you, tell us something about yourself, your childhood, college days…’
Krishna: ‘Thanks for inviting me here. By the way, this place makes the best Man-Chow Soup ever! We must have it…’ she exudes happiness pointing at the menu and I laugh and raise my eyebrows in question and she laughs back at me, ‘Ok, focusing back, here it goes. Dad’s discipline with affection, mom’s endless pampering and delicious dishes, fighting with elder brother, a fabulous group of cousins – all these summarize my childhood. I was born in Goa and brought up in Kolkata, I still miss my hometown, City of Joy!’
‘I was my brother’s partner in crime in almost everything. Later, he became my role model.’
‘I did my graduation from Kolkata and went to Mumbai for post-graduation.’ She pauses to take a sip from her virgin mojito, ‘In hostel, we make friends for lifetime, isn’t it!’ She reminiscences and continues, ‘The beautiful greenery of IIT Powai campus, highly ambitious B.Tech students, extremely competitive environment, the professors, campus interviews…all these together made an irreversible impact on my life, that get ready in life for whatever comes next !’
Rhiti: ‘So did you meet your husband in college then?’
Krishna: ‘Oh no, I met him much later in my office, in Bhubaneswar, but no love at first sight at all! He was a senior to me in the same office. Then we met again in California, both of us being on an onsite assessment. And yes, after many sights and some fights, finally love happened!! It’s been almost 13 years now.’
Rhiti: ‘What kind of field you were working in before you left your job?’
Krishna: ‘I was an IT professional, positioned as Senior Project Manager in Infosys.’ You know that, she laughs! Her laughter is infectious and I laugh with her.
Rhiti: ‘So what triggered the sudden decision to quit such a high-end job?’
Krishna: ‘How does it feel, Rhiti, when a six year old girl hugs you one fine morning and says, “Mumma, I feel very lonely!” You are a mother, you understand, don’t you.’
She pauses, the ever smiling face sombre for a moment she adds, ‘Her life was with a maid, no time with parents to share her daily happiness and sorrow, always running between home and the crèche – that was my elder daughter Torsha’s story! Slowly it started affecting her confidence in life. On the other hand, for being a mother I had to come early from office and hence was not able to give 100% to my office work as well. Although, I used to enjoy the work in office a lot.’
‘It was not an easy decision at all. Several discussions with husband, parents took place. We thought over all pros and cons. Monetary status, good position, glamorous life, respect in society in one hand, on the other hand, a little lonely face!’
Krishna’s smile slowly returns to her face, ‘In these days of constant struggles within myself, Todo (our pet dog) came to our house, and very soon, our younger daughter Teetsa also made a happy entry into our lives. Somehow, by that time, Almighty had helped to take the final decision for me. I did not go back to office after Teesta was born.’
Rhiti: ‘How has life changed after your children were born?’
Krishna: ‘I have two different answers to this question, After my first child: Happiness, responsibility, loads of work, tremendous pressure in balancing work and home, life was extremely busy as a working mother. A working mother who was always in guilt of not completing things at home and at office!’ she pauses to smile a brilliant smile at me, ‘After my second child: Happiness, happiness, and more happiness 🙂 no work and only play makes a mom a happy soul :)’ now she laughs out loud, making a few heads turn. The smile on her lips reaches her eyes, and you can tell that she is happy with her decision, she is at peace.
Rhiti: ‘Do you regret any decision?’
Krishna: ‘It gives me immense confidence that I worked for 13 years in corporate office and made significant financial contribution towards our home. Also helped me earn a good social status. At the same time, I feel very satisfied that I was able to take the right decision at the right time for my kids. No, no regrets, instead, a big thank you to parents and husband who guided me at the correct time.’
Rhiti: ‘Would you ever contemplate going back to professional work ever?’
Krishna: Right now the answer is NO, but ten or twelve years down the line I might give teaching a thought or something absolutely off-beat like Interior designing.
Rhiti: ‘How do you see yourself in the future?’
Krishna: ‘I can close my eyes and imagine a scene: A lazy Sunday morning, drinking coffee with my husband on the terrace and discussing about our daughters, while they have grown up as excellent human beings and are enjoying happy independent lives!’ Krishna’s eyes light up as she says these words.
Rhiti: ‘So what is the key to your ever smiling face and the inner peace you always project?’
Krishna: ‘See I have this glass of Virgin Mojito in front of me, My Chicken lasagne is on its way, am sitting in front of you all decked up in an air-conditioned up beat restaurant, why shouldn’t I be happy?’ she laughs out whole heartedly, ‘There are so many things in life to be happy about, happiness is a daily decision, isn’t it? Everyone should focus on the positive things in their lives rather than the negative, and happiness will easily come to them.’
‘This is something I learnt from my mother, rather inherited from her. Even in the toughest times I have never seen her without a smile.’
Rhiti: Tell us something about your mom and the people who inspire and support you the most.
Krishna: ‘My mom – is the happiest soul I have ever known. Cheerful, positive, encouraging and always in search of fun, in almost everything. As I grew up I saw her in different roles of life, and understood her not only as my mother but also as an individual, my respect for her keeps increasing through time. Her sacrifices, sensitivity towards others, capability of being positive even in critical situations leaves me astonished!’
‘Support = let’s talk about three men in a boat, the sailing boat of my life! Dad and big bro were the biggest inspiration from childhood. Both were very good in studies, visited different countries in early stage of life, as part of their career assignments. I just wanted to be like them, confident, and successful. Then I met my husband, a soul who infects peace and happiness, he taught me to be content in life. ‘
‘Apart from this, I believe friends play a very important role for daily inspiration, daily happiness. I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful friends. They are selected; they are few in number and include two close cousin sisters as well. My friends are like eternal sunshine to my life.’
Rhiti: ‘Since, we are talking about parents, what is your opinion on taking the responsibility of parents at their old age?’
Krishna: ‘I am going to quote something that I have read few days ago Parents give us wings to fly and the roots to come back. Everyone must take care of their parents when they get old.’
Rhiti: ‘Let’s get back to you now, let me ask a very clichéd question, what are your hobbies and passion?’
Krishna: ‘Music, movies, books, shopping, cooking. Apart from all these, I love to be part of the continuous chaos happening at home while my kids (daughters and the dog) are playing, it’s real fun!’
Rhiti: ‘Any word of advice for all the mothers and would-be mothers out there?’
Krishna: ‘Be happy and don’t have any guilt in your heart for not completing things in time. Take a break. Pause. Enjoy life.’
Rhiti: ‘Any advice for your children?’
Krishna: ‘In my childhood, I was extremely motivated by few lines from Rabindranath
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;”
I would like to talk about that “heaven of freedom”, to my children.’
By this time our order of Chicken Lasagne and Blueberry Muffins arrive, and the conversation drifts to food. As we tuck in, the interviewer in me looks at this Incredible Woman in admiration, hoping more women find their inner peace and strength to do what is right for them, like her.
The friend in me takes over now and the rest of the afternoon passes in laughter, fond memories of kids and ever-faulting husbands.
Interview conducted by Rhiti Bose for IWI