It will be two years since my husband’s grandmother passed away. She was born in an era where educating a girl child was unheard of and educating a widow was a sacrilege. Grandmother was nine years old when she got married and widowed at eighteen with two daughters.
Grandmother’s mother decided that her widowed daughter has to continue her education which was stopped for the marriage. Grandmother’s brother walked out of the house when he heard about his sister’s education. But my grandmother’s mother stood bravely by her decision and saw to that her daughter become a teacher and was financially independent. This was in 1930’s.
Fast forward to late 1960’s, when my mother turned 20, my grandfather did not allow her pursue her post graduation because it would be difficult to find a groom to match her educational qualification! My mom did not allow her marriage to stand in the way of her passion.
Ten years later, when I was seven years old and my brother ten years, my mother pursued her post graduation in Tamil in an evening college. Running a home was no easy feat for her, managing a day time teacher’s job, attending evening college, a naughty son and a daughter who fell sick pretty often.
The perseverance and grit of these three women makes me think that the impossible can be made possible. We have walked faraway from the forties and sixties and are fairly liberated. But every time I meet an eight year old Lakshmi taking care of a month old baby in a posh apartment or a 13 year old Raju working as a coolie at a construction site to make ends meet, it makes me sad. When you talk to them you realize they are bright kids. It is just that they are less fortunate. What do you do about this?
Parenting is also about asking our children to share their knowledge, books and time with the under privileged and treat them with respect.
Lokesh, whom we taught, works in an office now. He reads out the new property papers to his mother. Dali who sketches well is in college, doing arts. Roshni and Surya, my driver’s children are in primary school. Dhanraj, my house help’s son is very good at math. We take care of their education and hope they are passionate about their interests in the future.
Six months before grandmother died she suffered a stroke. It affected her ability to recall our names and her’s as well. But in a miraculous way, she could read the Kannada alphabet. She did not remember the words to have a conversation or express hunger, but could spot them and read them if they were on written paper. She would incessantly practice writing her name and the words she recalled. The last conscious thing she did was to sign her pension paper. She survived because of her education: at eighteen and at ninety-three.
Educate one child other than yours. Someday they will thank you.
Subhashini Chandramani is mother of a teenager. She is a homemaker and poetical story teller who writes under the pen name, neelavanam which means the blue sky. You can follow her thoughts at http://neelavanam.tumblr.com/ and @Neelavanam on Twitter.