Last evening, I accompanied by children to a birthday party in a fast food restaurant. As the children were engrossed in the party games and did not seem to need me, I excused myself from the party and thought of taking a stroll in the market and may be browse at some books in a book shop.

I was in a particularly anxious state. And I was watching my mind taking me down the same old spiral of “How am I going to manage as a single parent, am I doing the right thing by unschooling, what about my old parents, what about me, will I have enough money….and blah blah blah…?”

I needed some distraction. So I decided to treat myself to my favourite stress buster, “Gol Gappa”, North India’s famous all time snack for that pungent, tangy, lip smacking kick. And trust me I needed one such kick. I would have loved a Scotch or good old ‘Old Monk with Coke’, but I did not have much of a choice.

While savouring the dripping “Gol Gappas’ and crying the tears that the hot and spicy tamarind water brought to my eyes, I was already feeling elated. As I was chewing my last piece, I noticed an old colleague from my days as a teacher, walking towards me with many shopping bags. I was seeing her after seven years. Her long hair was all grey.

She did not see me and walked past me. But thankfully she stopped in front of the next shop, which was a book shop. I quickly finished my last shot of ‘Gol Gappa” and headed towards her. Now a word or two about my friend. I will call her J here. J was an English teacher in the famous public school I used to teach German language in. She is a Sikh and like all Sikh women, is very beautiful and has very long hair. She is also very regal like many Sikh women are. J left school because her daughter at that time was going through some difficult emotional issues and had also gotten admission into a University in Canada and J decided to accompany her.

J was a very loving and enthusiastic teacher. The school authorities, the students  and her fellow teacher all valued her in equal measure. So when she requested for relief from the job, the school held her position for one year to allow her to come back. But J did not go back. By then I too had left that job.

I walked up to her and said, “Hi J remember me, Dola.” And she said, “Of course German teacher, are you still in the school?” I said no, “I too left soon after you, since I was pregnant with my son.”

I asked her about her daughter. And she narrated, how her daughter completed her studies in Canada and then worked with a Shah Rukh Khan Production House and how she often fell sick with some ailment or the other. J told me that currently her daughter was home with slip disc. I told her about how my life had changed drastically during the last 5 years.

We both were silent for a while and looked at each other’s grey strands and said unanimously, “such is life.” Nothing much to it. She told me how her home is an abode for old and sick people (laughingly) and that she is the nurse and support for all those people who need her. A profound sense of calmness and ‘is-ness’ dawned on my whole body as we shared our lives.

Then we said our goodbyes and as she walked away with her bags, I walked into the book shop. Suddenly wondering what I was doing in there. Which book could provide me the lesson that I just seemed to have learnt from J? That life is unpredictable and no matter how much we plan and dream for our selves…our loved ones always take center stage. And then to love and care are the only things left to do at the end of the day.

As I was standing almost dumb found near a shelf full of books, my eyes fell on a book staring at me. I picked it up and it was a book on adoption written by Nandini Sengupta, herself an adoptive parent. The book appealed to me since my daughter was adopted too! And the icing on the cake was that the book had a forward by none other than Sushmita Sen, a single, unmarried mom with two adopted children and a successful woman in her chosen field of profession too!

The line that touched me most in her forward was this, “My children were born from my heart and I did not want to wait to find the right mate to become a mother. To love and care is the essence of a mother and a woman, and I am both.”

I was overwhelmed with an overflowing heart. I did not buy any book and gratefully walked back to the party holding the messages in my heart, that came to me in two amazing ways through spirit.

Spirit which is time and again revealing to me that it is all one and not separate. We are interconnected and that I am not alone.

I love you all….

Dola

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