When I failed to qualify the IIT, it never stuck me what it must have meant to my mother who has nurtured me from my childhood with her dreams for me. To me, it was another of those exams that I didn’t do as well as I expected. The result being that I had to settle with a REC instead of an IIT. It was no big deal for me. But Mum was terribly upset. I just couldn’t relate to it.
I graduated like any other engineer and got into the most coveted fields into one of the most coveted companies in India. My job took me locations beyond the seven seas, something that was not very common in our family. I could see my mother swell with pride on my professional growth. But looking back, if I tried to comprehend the pain that my mother went though when I didn’t get into IIT; it was not understandable to my mature mind.
I eventually tied the nuptial knot and four years after my marriage I was blessed with a little bundle of joy. Every evening I couldn’t wait to get my priority tasks done at office and rush home to hear the adorable gurgles of my son. I had hired a nanny for him who looked after his every little need when I was not around. People would prefer to term her as a maid but I used to get very offended if someone referred her by that word. She was like a mother to my son and we respected her a lot at home.
Our little bundle of joy turned two and I carefully selected a play school for him. I would term it more of a play area because he had to spend hardly two hours there out of which the first fifteen minutes were spent in settling down, the next half an hour was scheduled for games, after which there was a lunch session. Lunch session was followed by all the kids getting queued up to use the washroom and then it was time to go home. So the last quarter hour was spent in getting ready to head home. All these activities were interspersed with prayer and poems and songs and dance. So the day arrived when I took his little hand in mine and led him to his first school. Most often, most of the children cry for the first few days and hence the teacher requested me to leave the nanny with my son at the play school for the first 3-4 days which I did. On the fifth day, the nanny was not allowed to come in and my son was left by himself at school. I was very eager to know how the day went by for my son at school. My son’s nanny called me as soon as she came home after picking him from school. She told me that he cried a lot and ultimately dozed off to sleep. He refused to play or eat there. But the teacher assured me that things would change gradually. So the next day I was anxious to find out what happened. I was waiting for my phone to ring after 12:00 noon. And it soon did. The nanny told me that the story repeated at school — my son cried a lot and ultimately dozed off to sleep. The teacher had conveyed to me that I am not ensuring enough sleep for my son during the night and that is why he is sleeping in the day time during schooling hours. Though a bit disappointed, I analysed the situation. I knew that my son slept through the night for 9 hours. In addition he supplemented this sleep with an afternoon nap. So it was something else. It then stuck me that it was the medicines that I was giving him in the morning. It is rainy season out here and most of the kids have running noses and a dry cough. My son was also one amongst them…So the next day I decided to skip the medicines in the morning. Doing this, I was very hopeful that he would not sleep during the school hours. So the next noon came and again I was waiting for the phone to ring – a hopeful, jubilant and anxious mother. And as soon as the phone rang, I jumped at it and even before the nanny could tell me what happened, I blurted out “He wouldn’t have slept today, right?” And much to my dismay, my son had slept off that day as well. My heart sank. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. It was as if someone had slapped me. I thought about it endlessly that day and through the weekend. And finally I accepted the fact that it was the first time that my son has stepped out of the security of a home and he is simply going to take time to adjust to the new environment. So I should just be patient and give him more time.
Monday came by and it was the usual day. It is normally a hectic time at work being the first day of the week. I was buzzing in and out of meetings and telecons. The phone rang for the umpteenth time that day and I picked it up expecting it to be from my senior manager asking me the status of the reports I was working on. To my surprise it turned out to be my son’s nanny. She had just picked up my son from the play school and she said that my son didn’t cry at the school today. He played and ate with the kids and while leaving the school he frantically waved good byes to his playmates. I put down the phone and found myself crying. I just couldn’t wait to share this with my husband. It was so simple – my son enjoyed his playschool now but yet to me it meant the world.
And then I knew what it meant to my mother when I failed to qualify the IIT.