Posted on May 10 2020
All is clear when mom is here!
Tarishna: Mom where is my singlet? I last saw it in my cupboard!
Sujoy: Mom I want breakfast!
Mom: Tarishna what do you mean you last saw your singlet in the cupboard? This isn’t a police investigation! It must be there, check again.
Sujoy: Dad! Call mom I need breakfast!
Mom: Sujoy stop acting like a brat and get some cereals in the bowl yourself.
Tarishna and Sujoy: Mom!!!!
Mom: Fuck!!! A house full of loonies! *I am getting late for work!*
This is usually a normal day at the Saxena household. The mother – Anita is usually running around helter-skelter picking up demands from her kids and working her job as well. But today seems like Anita is going to lose her top on her spoiled kids. According to Anita Saxena, 42, mother and father to two teenage brats, from Mumbai, is usually seen multitasking in all aspects of her life. However, today seems like she’ll have to wear the father’s hat again because both her kids need their mother as well as their father at the same time.
Being a single mother she has learned the art of being one by two - A mother and a father to her kids in the last four years, ever since she divorced her husband. At the time it felt like her life had come to an end. She was in her mid 30s when her husband announced one night that he was done with their marriage and was looking to move to Chile for good. She says her husband was always a vagabond at heart and that’s why she fell in love with him.
Marrying a traveler was easy, even exciting at 25. She was young and she was a fool in love. Ronny was everything she ever wanted in her man and he was in his early 30s when they got married. The early years of marriage were bliss. She still recalls her life of abundance while carrying Tarishna inside her. Parties, dinners, travel, joy and laughter defined the Roys. But slowly, after Tarishna was born, Anita started seeing cracks in her marriage. Ronny was an absent father, usually away travelling the world over.
Anita says she started caring for her child as a mother and a father even when she was married to Ronny. He would come in once in three-four months and then he’d be back on a plane to explore another country and culture. While she was pregnant with Sujoy after a year of Tarishna being born, she says she told Ronny to stay at home with her because she couldn’t bear being alone anymore. Ronny came back. Tried to be a good homebody and it actually worked for a few years like that. Anita was happy again and the kids were securely growing up.
However, Ronny snapped one night at Anita and informed her that he was going to Chile forever. If she wanted to join him she could but he’d continue to travel all his life because that’s who he was- A traveler. He said he loved her and the kids but he felt claustrophobic in the house all the time and he felt dissuaded from his true self, thus. So Anita let him go a few years after he moved to Chile. They got divorced and naturally the kids were left with her. Ronny bought them a home in Mumbai in a good locality and spacious apartment but left Anita to fill his void in their kids’ hearts.
So here’s Anita Saxena successfully juggling between being a mother and a father to Tarishna 13 years and Sujoy 12 years. Both go to an A list school in town and lead conscious lives with her. Anita says last year Tarishna had gone to a party and picked up a cigarette on her friend’s behest. She says she could smell the smoke on her daughter’s clothes while putting them for a wash and that’s when she split her personality into a father and designed a power point presentation on why Tarishna should not smoke again. Anita told her daughter, “Hey babe listen up, you ain’t gonna grab a good future if you gonna smoke and you’ll probably die of cancer in your late 20s and I won’t be able to help you so it’s your choice okay kid?” Tarishna hugged Anita and said, “Dad I am sorry, I won’t take the cigarette again. Please be there for me forever.”
Anita says it isn’t easy being a single mother to two teenagers but she tries, she tries everyday that her kids don’t feel their father’s absence in their lives. So when Suji boy was bullied at camp earlier this year, he called her and she turned into a rockstar of a father again. She taught him some tricks to befriend his bullies and it worked. Now Sujoy is like a stud in his class and not known to be a mumma’s boy thank god!
Being a single mother, Anita is often looked at with prying eyes from creeps at work or in the neighborhood. Sujoy is growing up and he understands her position. Sujoy once suggested Anita start dating someone but being a hands-on mother and still in love with Ronny, that didn’t work out. Anita says she is satisfied in her lost love and loving her kids.
The Saxenas have a Firday night gathering in their living room with pizzas, Pepsi and the works and they usually turn it into a movie at home kinda night that the kids enjoy and cherish a lot. One of those nights Tarishna asked her mother about their father and she told both their kids, “Am I not your father? Do you think life would be rosier if dad was here once in three-four months in a year like he used to? Having no head or tail to what you’ll are upto? Tarishna and Sujoy sat close to her that night and she told them all about their gypsy dad. She told them he was a wonderful man and he loved them a lot but he wasn’t one to be a normal stay at home kinda dad and that they’d have her by their side forever.
It’s hard to convince your children of the absence of their father but their dad is a pure soul, just not meant to be a stereotypical dad and its okay with the kids now.
Anita doesn’t talk about her struggles to meet the bills of the household sometimes to her kids because she knows then they’d work themselves out at a young age and she doesn’t want that for them. Anita works two shifts sometimes and manages to give a lavish lifestyle to her kids.
According to Anita, her ex-husband is a rich man and when he calls he always offers money but Anita doesn’t take the offer because she doesn’t want material help from her ex-husband. When he can’t be there emotionally for his family then what’s the point of being there materialistically?
Anita wants her kids to complete their education from the finest universities and become adept professionals one day. For that she says even if she has to work herself out 24/7 she will. They are her first love Ronny and her proof in this world and being one by two she will provide her kids everything to meet their goals in life.
Being a single mother, a woman sacrifices her life for her kids, has to switch hats now and often and she has to bear the taunts and unsolicited advice of the society in general. A single mother is not well, validated enough by the patriarchy. However, a mother is a mother. Single or married, she is nevertheless the caregiver of the family and if not born perfect at bringing up her kids, she learns the art on the way.
Anita says, “My kids have understood the fact that Ronny isn’t going to ever be there for them as most fathers are for their children.” But she says that her children don’t care anymore because they don’t feel his need in their lives. Anita is their mother and father and she does an amazing job of bringing them up and that’s enough for them.
Today is mother’s day and her kids have planned a surprise for her in the evening at home. She can’t wait to go home after her meeting with the board on a Sunday afternoon! She can’t wait for her two innocent punks to surprise her like they do with love every year!
For all the single mothers out there, “You are enough. No matter what your past or your circumstance, your kids love you and value you for being their pillar of strength. So don’t buckle under pressure because when they graduate they’re going to throw their hats on you and that will be the best day of your life as a Mother!”
Words by Jumana Mahabaleshwarwala