So much about graduating is about Mom. So much about life is about Mom. So much about my existence is about Mom.
I graduated. An MBA from London Business School. It feels surreal. This was the dream. To be honest, it wasn’t even the dream because I often dream cautiously and carefully, scared that unfulfilled dreams would hurt so much more than dreaming smaller. When you’re at a low point in your life, it feels tough to dream big, almost ludicrous. Something within you almost tells you, “Have you looked at yourself now, how dare you dream this big?”. It was my ex-boyfriend who pushed me to dream, to apply regardless. I would forever be grateful to him. And to my best friends, my mentor, my brother, my sister, and those 30 people who reviewed my 400 essays 535 times and responded to my ‘What do you think about this edit?’ messages at 11:55 PM, 5 minutes before the submission deadline. They kept their patience and still told me that they loved me, and meant it. Ah, what would have I done without you all?
However, this post isn’t about them. This is about you, Mom. And how it meant everything to have you support me all along in life. This is about when I was 12 and wanted to take swimming lessons. I remember how you accompanied me every day, and sat by the pool for hours in the sweltering 45°C Indian summer heat to cheer for me as I perfected my butterfly-stroke. This is about the times, multiple times, you woke up at 4 AM, so you could wake me up to study for my examinations. And when I blamed you for waking me up 30 minutes late because you couldn’t wake up in time, you apologized. Oh God, why are teenagers so awful!
This is also about the time I wanted to move across the country to study for my undergrad. Dad was unwell and you needed support, but you told me that you’ve got it and let me go to study that far. You taught me, over and over again, how to love independent people. That love means letting people go after the things that matter to them, and not guilting them into staying back.
This is about the time I told you that I did not want to not pursue engineering anymore, and felt that writing is where my true passion lies. Instead of blatantly dismissing my idea and lecturing me on the frivolity of passion for most people in India, you urged me to think more deeply. “Do you want to talk to more people about it?”, “Can I connect you with someone?”, “Do you think you want to take up writing as a profession or do you want to continue it as an avocation?”. You urged me to think, ask questions and carve my path without feeling intimidated about failing.
I did not, however, end up pursuing writing because my soul searching helped me realize that I might not enjoy writing as much if it became a full-time job. At my non-writing job at work, on many days that seemed to never end, I remember feeling too exhausted to call you and check in on you. It meant everything to me that you gave me the space to be busy, and understood when I was not there for you as much as you would have liked. I felt like a heavy burden was lifted off my chest when you didn’t say, ”You never have time for me”, and instead said, “Call me when you can.” You made me feel safe knowing that I can come back to you when I am ready – that you would wait. You never made me feel that I have failed you…even though I sure have, many times.
Thank you for London, Mom. I remember getting insanely excited when I got the admit for LBS. The MBA was super rewarding but it came with a price tag that was tough for us to bear – thank you for sharing the burden, Mom. Recruitment was stressful, and Covid just made things worse with the job market crashing down. With every rejection, I remember mentally calculating how long I could manage London expenses without a job – it wasn’t too long. I know the period was as debilitating for you as it was for me. Thank you though, for not showing it, and for remarking, “It’s okay, it’s just a job” to every rejection email I received(we both knew fully well that at that point it was not ‘just’ a job – it was a hope to create a new life in a new country, and start paying off my hefty student debt).
You taught me about identity, freedom and choices; and stressed the importance of each of them in life. Identities of brown women often get camouflaged with their partners – you encouraged me to carve my own. You taught me that marriage is important but not pivotal for my happiness or personhood, and I can take my time to choose the right partner. You enabled me to make the right choices, generously sharing your share of wrong choices to prevent me from making the same mistakes. You taught me the importance of financial freedom; and why I must not never value anything over it. I remember our tough discussions, Mom. Thank you for listening to me and letting me have my own opinions, even when they were starkly opposite to yours. Thank you for shaping me Mom, beyond what any education could.
Look Mom– I graduated. We graduated. Thank you for the graduation, Mom!