Breaking her silence in this article is Barnali Roy, an independent, strong careerist woman and mother who chose to fight against odds right from the word go, refusing to quit under pressure and is a self-made successful professional.
Life is always a journey to cherish. Living up to one’s expectations and making one’s self-identity is what I have grown up believing right from my childhood but then never thought of the pain, challenges, sorrows and hardships one must come across in order to sustain and prove oneself.
Before I begin to break my silence, I would like to dedicate this piece of article to my family, parents and specially to my father who has been my mentor, role model and inspiration. Today whatever I have achieved in my journey of life is because of him and my family.
To start with somewhere I can co-relate myself to this Hindi saying “Beti Padhao aur beti ko saksham banao” – educating daughters and making them independent.
A Delhi based girl, belonging from a middle-class family, I did my studies in Zoology (Honours) from Delhi University. My father was a Cardiac Surgeon, my mom is a Home Maker and we are a family of four sisters but were bought up in a joint family with my uncles, aunts and my grandmother. My father being the only earning member of the family, had his platter full in terms of responsibilities to fulfil. Even as a child, I could sense the financial constraints of the family & the challenges faced by my father, but he was committed & never compromised on our education, giving us the best upbringing. My father was a self-made man who believed in his values and vision. I can say my life’s journeys and learning started from my father and I grew up wanting to become the strongest support to my family.
I always wanted to follow my father’s profession and it was my greatest dream to achieve but this was not in my destiny and I ended up in the waiting list after giving the entrance examination due to a difference of few marks although scoring good marks in my school level. After this incident, I went into depression and it took me a lot of time to overcome this phase with the support of my family and my inner strength. My father offered me to join a private medical college in Bangalore but I knew this would bring great financial burden on my father as he was already supporting a big family and hence I declined his offer, gave up my dream and moved on looking into alternate fields for a career but I promised myself that I would make myself a self-reliant and independent woman.
My school and university days were the best days of my life as I learnt many other aspects of life during this phase. Life took a great turn with my marriage. It was a typical arranged marriage, the groom selected by my father. I was married to a handsome and well-educated man but into a very conservative and orthodox family. My husband being the only son in the family, there was no dearth of expectations from me as the only daughter-in-law. They were never in favour of a working daughter-in-law and so the challenges of married life had just begun. Just 2 months into the marriage, my husband was posted on an overseas project in Perth for 2 years, but I had just started working as a Food Auditor in one of the multinational sectors which was a start point of my career. Although, it may have been important at that point to give time to the new relationship, I decided not to join my husband and did not resign from the job at that moment. It was not an easy decision and faced a lot of flak from my in-laws to give up my job to either join my husband or settle down and live with my in laws in their hometown. I refused to do either and continued to work. My husband and father were my biggest support during this time. Life continued to move on with lots of hardships and pressure from my in-laws in many aspects including their expectation to give them a grandchild, but I kept moving on without compromising on my self-identity and independence!
After two and a half years of my marriage, we were blessed with a child. A prince was born – my son. It was at this point that I felt I should give up my job and enjoy motherhood, but my office supported me and I was able to work from home for over a year. Just when it seemed like everything was falling into place, life had different plans. At the age of 1.5 years old, my son still did not have a good command over speech (delayed speech) and I needed to join back my office. I got his speech tested through our doctor who suggested that it was just delayed speech which is quite common and can happen with any child. I was asked to enrol him in a playschool where he could hear children around him and can pick up on his speech. We enrolled him in a Playschool, but soon started receiving complains about his behavioural issues and hyperactive nature. I realised there was some problem and highlighted this issue to my family and my husband but none of felt there was anything wrong. I decided to seek a second opinion much against everyone’s wishes. This turned out to be a nightmare as I was informed that my child would need to be tested for Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) as he was observed with some common symptoms of both. I spent the longest 12 hours, all alone to hear the outcome and much to my fear it was confirmed that he was suffering from ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder of the neurodevelopmental type, characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and behaviour.
ADHD treatment can vary and often is a combination of counselling, lifestyle changes, behavioural therapy and medications. I preferred to take up the long way of treatment with a specialized doctor without any medicine and through occupational therapies and behavioural education. It was a huge challenge for me to get him treated. My job was now a need as I needed to support the treatment financially. I continued his treatment for 3 years and diligently spent time with him to get him out of this suffering and finally by the grace of God and our persistent efforts my son could overcome ADHD.
During the ADHD suffering phase my son needed to face many issues in his school, and he was too young to understand. I remember being called to the school many times for every single issue and it was hard to explain to the school about the issues related to ADHD as this was not a very common type of disorder known during that time. I refused to bow down to these complaints and kept working on my son’s treatment! The toughest thing about ADHD was the everyday struggle with people and their judgement of our parenting. People often judged my parenting simply assuming my child was a brat, not understanding what he was suffering with. During this period, I needed to abort my second pregnancy as I needed to focus on my son’s life and treatment which was very painful decision for me.
My husband moved to Singapore with a job in the Oil and Gas industry in the year 2006, so I needed to move with my son in the year 2007 as a family. This was when I decided to resign from my job. After we moved to Singapore in June 2007, I pursued my studies for MBA from IGNOU and finally in May 2008 I was back to work again in the Maritime Sector but again needed to face another challenge. Suddenly my sister’s husband passed at the age of 45 and I needed to support her financially by all means.
The Year 2017, was the most difficult as my husband got retrenched from his job as the Oil and Gas Sector was going through a bad phase and with my son in 12th grade, we did not have the option to go back to India and finally we decided to continue in Singapore and I took responsibility to take care of my family and never wanted to give up by any means. I tried to support my husband as much as a family as he was going through a lot of hardships and frustration with his short-term new job and finally, he decided to go back to India with a secured job.
My father’s health started to deteriorate, and he needed to go through surgery for a pacemaker to be fitted. Despite the surgery and lots of effort he could not survive and left us on 23rd October 2017. This was a big shock. My strength and confidence fell apart. It felt as if a massive void was created in my life.
My job profile as a Business Controller needs a lot of travelling, working for longer hours, stress, hard work and management level decisions. To cope up with this job scope I started to neglect myself and my health totally which also made me drastically gain weight due to longer sitting period, but thanks to a great friend, who understood me and pulled me out of my cocoon with her initiative of ‘Sunday Walkers’, I was able to look at life with a different perspective. I really must say a team of positive people around is a must have. A place where I have found laughter, peace and positive vibes along with walking to move on in life and put me back in shape!
To end my article, I would like to say that I am not someone special who has taken up the challenges in life, but the most important part is that I could handle all these situations as I was always financially independent, maintained my self-identity and never gave up in any situation. Every day I challenge myself and say to myself that I can do it and never give up!
Special thanks to my son for always being a great support to me during all these hardships and challenges!
I hope my story inspires helps people sailing in similar situations to always remember to take life as a challenge and NEVER GIVE UP!!
Barnali Roy – I am a warrior