It seems like only yesterday. My journey started in 2008 when I had just finished my 12th boards and was looking forward to my vacations as usual. Spending time with mom in the kitchen, eating delicious food and of course listening to her stories was all I wanted to do. One fine day she asked me, what have I thought about college? I was clueless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life.
I spoke to my best friend who was in college how he went about it but he gave so many options and I was not able to wrap my mind around it. That’s what happens when you have to figure it out all by yourself. Sometimes you look for people to guide you in the right direction. We did not even have a cell phone at that time so that I could search something online. We never needed it and also it was a privilege during those days. However all this was not an issue for me as I had other priorities. I didn’t want to leave home and go study in a different city. Sadly, I did not have the option to complete college in my city. My dad wanted me to study in a Christian College as for him those were the best colleges. I decided to study in the same college my friend was studying and he helped me with everything. The college was St. Xavier’s College, Ahmadabad and it made my dad proud that I had gotten admission in such a reputed college.
Finally the day had arrived. A kid from a small town called Valsad, who spent all his summer vacations at home in mom’s kitchen had to leave the house to go study in college in a big city like Ahmadabad. Just the thought of staying away from mom made me cry and not having my dad around just scared me. Yeah I was a Mumma’s boy but it gave me more joy when I had made my dad proud. I was the first to attend college in my family so more than me my dad was excited about the prospect.
My mom came to drop me at college, she checked if my hostel was good enough or not. I ended up crying when it was time for her to go back home. So much so that she almost missed her train. I sat down at the station for almost an hour as i could not stop crying. I was a lost kid without his parents around. As a family we were not financially stable but we were happy as kids. All the credit goes to mom and dad for raising us in such a way. We were content with what we had.
Coming to Ahmadabad to study was the best decision of my life I would say. Staying away from home kind of helped me find myself. In the beginning I used to run home almost every weekend for the entire first year. It would have been every weekend if not for how things went in that first year. I was great at sports and basketball and cricket was my life. My year started with defeating the college team in first week. Fresher’s got lot of opportunities to showcase their talent. I got selected to be part of the college team. It was totally a dream come true.
They say that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. That’s exactly what happened to me. My dad fell sick and was hospitalized. His internal organs were failing.
He had a major accident when I was just 6 months old while working on the railway tracks. During the testing of the train engine, a lose engine plate struck dad near the side of his stomach. His chances of survival were just 5% but by God’s grace he managed to survive. However, ever since he was not able to lift anything heavy and he used to get sick whenever the seasons changed. I don’t know what he might have gone through and I never will as he wasn’t the one to talk. All I knew was he did not have a good company at work and his drinking habit worsened after I started college. So the condition that he was in by then was basically just because of lack of eating and excessive drinking. His body was giving up. We admitted him to the Railway hospital in Mumbai. His condition was not good and he was kept in the ICU from Day 1.
I had to figure out my college admission during this time. After some research we found out about UDCT College. I prepared for the entrance exam while staying in the hospital with my mom. I would say it was a miracle I managed to clear the entrance exam. Another obstacle hit me here; I did not have enough money for the admission. Dad was the only earning member in the house and so things were difficult. My aunt was already helping us with our daily expenses so I could not ask for anything more. I had a lot of relatives who were there for us until when I actually needed them.
I somehow managed to arrange the money. I used to attend college during the day and stay with my dad during the night. But just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my dad’s health started deteriorating even further. His body had stopped responding to the medicines. His organs were slowly failing.
Then my world just crashed around me. I lost my Dad in November 2011. I was in a state of shock. I didn’t know how to react or mourn. My mom was not the same after. Every day, every minute was a struggle. My younger brother who was in 11th at that time was handling it better than me I think. But before I could process the loss of my dad, my mom fell sick barely 7 days after my dad’s funeral. She fell unconscious in the washroom and she had lost blood. She was admitted to the same hospital where my dad was admitted. All those memories came flooding back to haunt me. I hated that hospital. I never imagined I would be back here so soon and that too with my mom.
I was praying to God that it should not be serious. I had just lost someone special and losing my mom would just kill me inside. My faith in God took a major hit when the results came in. My mom had Uterus Cancer and it was almost at the end of Stage 3. I couldn’t believe my ears.
As few months passed, my mom was going through a painful routine of chemotherapy and radiation, my relationship was almost over, my brother had failed in 11th Commerce and I had failed in my finals in my first year of Masters.
It felt like there was no end to the bad times in my life. She was getting her treatment done from Tata Hospital. Her health was taking a toll due to the daily chemotherapy and radiation. The worst part was there was no improvement despite all the treatment and the cancer had started spreading further.
My aunt managed to find another hospital in Baroda and we shifted mom there. I had to help my brother out as well who was all alone at home. I asked couple of my friends who took tuition’s to help him study for his 12th boards externally. They were my saviors during the time when I desperately needed help.
My mom fought very bravely. I told her I needed her to be there for us. It was in September 2012 when we finally completed her treatment. 10 months of chemotherapy and radiation had taken a toll on her big time. She was in constant pain even after coming home. We had to admit her to a local hospital as she was unable to bear the pain. Meanwhile, I decided to go to Mumbai and work in a call center. After all, my aunt could only help us to a certain extent. Mom used to ask for me as I didn’t go home even on the weekends to see her. I worked on weekends just to get some extra money. It wasn’t as if I did not want to see her. It’s just that I had this bad feeling inside me which was killing me day by day.
So it was almost the end of November, when I got a call from my aunt saying that mom was feeling well and wanted to see me. I spoke to her on the phone and she sounded better so I caught the train and reached home at around 10pm. I got fresh and went to meet her in the hospital. There she was all smiles looking at me. I heaved a sigh of relief while she sent everyone else home as I there with her. All she wanted to do was talk to me like the good old times, except this time I didn’t like where the conversation was headed. She wanted me to take up responsibilities which I didn’t even know about. She wanted me to promise her, that I would take care of my brother no matter what happens. I told her to sleep saying she was talking nonsense and that she would be fine and we are in this together. She took my hand and kept her head on my shoulder as she fell asleep. At first, I could not sleep after that heavy conversation but then looking at her at peace and sleeping well, I ended up sleeping holding her hand. It was 4 in the morning when suddenly a nurse woke me up. I could not understand what she was saying. I still had my mom’s hand in my hand except this time it was cold.
I’m really not sure how to describe this feeling. I will just leave it at that.
A new journey started for me – An unknown world. Everyone giving me advice on what to do, what responsibility I have going forward. This coming from people who had no idea what I was going through. Did I think about ending my life? Absolutely! Did I feel worthless? No Doubt.
My mom lived her entire life for others happiness. That day I realised I did not have a purpose in life. After all these negative thoughts, I realised something. I had made a promise to my mom to take care of my brother. My dad had set an example for me. No matter what the situation, he loved us and took care of all our needs. It doesn’t matter if the need was small or big. He was always there for us. I decided that day itself that I would be there for my brother no matter what. All I asked of him was make sure he cleared his 12th boards and thank God he did.
It took me 6 months of running around to different Railway offices (Mumbai, Ahmadabad) and the Court for an NOC. I decided it was best that my brother got the job in the Railway in place of my dad. The process was a headache but in the end it was all worth it. I wouldn’t be able to do this in 6 months if it was not for my aunt. She was there by my side throughout it all.
So with 2 years and 6 months of gap in my resume, I had to decide what i wanted to do with my life. I was a graduate with no experience at all. After multiple interviews in different professions, multiple rejections, I finally found a job in hotel industry with a salary of 13.5k. I still remember that day. I could not imagine how I would manage to survive with this salary in the year 2013. I was working for a 5 star hotel Trident at Nariman Point. I found some lifesaving friends who were there when I felt down. There was this amazing guy Joseph Raj who when I had issues with my stay without thinking once said come and stay at my place. He treated me like a younger brother. We were 10 people staying in a 1RK but we had shifts so it was manageable. The hotel provided with the food and occasionally we used to get some tips. I was working in the business center so tips were hard to come by. I think that was the most enjoyable experience of my life in terms of work. More so it showed in my appearance too. I went from skinny 68kgs to a healthy 88kgs in one year.
After a year of probation, just as I was getting comfortable working there, I had my interview for getting on payroll but another problem was waiting for me right there. They wanted me to sign a contract as they were not taking anyone on payroll anytime soon. It was a hard decision to make but I ended up leaving the job. I came back home and my aunt helped again by getting me a job in the bank. I started working as Sales Executive in Kotak Mahindra Bank. It was difficult going house to house asking people to open an account with us. I’d say I was barely hanging by a thread. It couldn’t last for more than 3 months as somehow I had gotten used to the Mumbai life.
I asked for help from my friend again asking if I could stay with him, saying that I would pay the rent later. He welcomed me with open arms. That gave me the confidence to go back and find a better job. It was not going to be easy. My resume was not going to help me but I decided to take a chance. I started working as Sales Executive with Fitness First, one of the biggest brands in gyms. I knew I wasn’t meant to do this but I couldn’t afford to stay without paying the rent. I took up the job just to get through my monthly expenses. Life took a turn when I got my first client. I walked him through the entire gym and explained the benefits of the different packages. He was impressed with my presentation skills. He offered me a job as an Analyst. He told me if you want to grow than think about it. He was a manager in an IT company and was looking for candidates who could join immediately.
All my friends had given up on me by this time. I was changing jobs frequently and they were concerned. I had actually thought a lot about this before asking them for advice. It had only been 2 months that I had joined here. All my friends were doing so great in their life that I was always in a state of depression but I could not say it to anyone. I was just piling up all these things which were bothering me. It had been 2 years and I still had not mourned properly. Finally that bubble burst and I cried after 2 long years when I was all alone. I had to let it all out. l did not want anyone around me. I cried all night and then the next day I felt a bit better.
A new day and a new journey began. I decided to take the offer but this time I wanted to prove to everyone that I could make it. I was determined and I finally had a purpose again. I stuck around for 4 years in this company. I gave it my all. It was a slow growth but I was getting there.
My brother and I managed to clear all the debts after all these years. We had borrowed a lot of money during my mom’s treatment. We saved some money and we took a risk and bought a house in Valsad. We got it blessed on our moms’ birthday which I can say has got to be my biggest achievement yet. I had fulfilled my moms’ dream. My brother had a government job and a house for himself. It felt like some weight was finally lifted from my shoulders.
It was finally time to switch to a new profile. I applied for a role of Sr. Business Analyst. After a 6 month long wait I finally got the offer. It’s been 2 years now with this new company and I have traveled to places I never thought I would. I am financially stable now but not having my parents around still hurts me.
Whenever I see a family spending quality time, whether it is in a park, shopping malls, restaurants, it hurts. I miss them every single day and I am grateful for the way they have raised me. Only regret I will have is they are not here to see their sons doing so well. I just hope when I see them, I hope to hear them say they’re proud of me.