When I was about 12 or 13, there was a little snippet about someone winning the Rhodes scholarship in the Malayala Manorama newspaper. I don’t remember who the person was, but somehow I have associated it with Arundathi Roy’s family. It was time before Internet and I went to my mother and showed her the photo of the winner and asked her “Amma, What is Rhode’s scholarship?”. Obviously her response was to belittle me further and convince me that I was good for nothing. She told me, instead of aiming for the obviously unachievable, I should seriously consider passing the 10th std, for no one really wants a bride who is deaf, dumb and blind and asked me to think what will happen to me if I have no educational qualification. She also told me, I should actually look at joining the convent as an option because she sees no future for me in anything else. ( And yes, for years I thought I will join the convent and my sisters used to call me ‘mother Sarah’) But still there was this thought..that if he ( the guy who won the scholarship) could do it, so could I, even though I was everything my mother said I was and struggling at school. How much ever my mother tried to extinguish the flame of my hopes, it always flickered..I couldn’t just give up.
I never got Rhodes Scholarship, never knew how to go about getting it and life kept throwing various challenges my way and I was busy slaying my dragons and trying to stay alive. But I did know one thing, if I ever have children, I will give them all the chances to get ‘there’.. The ‘there’ is no particular place..it was anywhere my children wanted to go..because I know that if you work hard enough, there is no mountain that you can’t climb. I wanted to give them a chance, the chance I was deprived of. I took education policies for each of them as soon as they were born. I migrated to Canada and then to Australia, so they will have a very good education and have the choice of top universities. But in all these, I forgot to tell my children that I do not expect them to go to the top universities..What I wanted to give them was a window of opportunities..that they can use if they wanted because I didn’t want to be the speed bump in their path like my mother was.. Somehow, it got translated that my children think that I would be upset if they didn’t go to top Uni’s. But the thing is, if they became to UN secretary general or a petrol kiosk attendant, they don’t cease being my children. I love them for who they are, not what they become in their life. Their success doesn’t equate to my happiness. My happiness is raising them each day, seeing them blossoming in to wonderful people. I now have to undo the damage of my own doing..