Today is Mother’s Day. It is celebrated across the globe to recognise the immeasurable contributions of mothers in building the lives of their children.
Needless to say, motherhood is far more challenging than that one could ever think of. But it gets compounded if the woman is a single mother, no matter whether she is a widow, a divorcee or a single parent by choice.
Besides being the sole breadearner, she has to take care of her kids and manage home single-handedly. Being single, she can’t afford to fall sick, she is the one who has to carry the grocery bag as well as her child’s school bag. She faces criticism, social stigma and discrimination in her everyday life while her to-do-list gets lengthier as she grows older. It is certainly one of the scariest things that can ever happen to a woman. Battling financial, emotional and health issues all alone apart from raising children with utmost care is not everyone’s cup of tea.
On World Mother’s Day, Sunday POST profiles three such women who have successfully raised their children without support of their partners.
It is very difficult to recover from the grief after losing someone significant and a blow can’t be a bigger than losing one’s husband at a young age. Bhubaneswar-based Annie Satpathy, a popular anchor at Doordarshan, lost her life partner when he was in his early 40s. Since then, she has been waging a lone battle against social stigma, social discrimination and injustice to give a proper upbringing to her daughter.
Recalling the shock of her life, Annie says, “My husband was extremely health conscious. He always preferred home-cooked stuff and avoided spicy food. Expectedly, he supposed to lead a long and disease free life. But that was not to be. On the fateful day (June 10, 2018), he was in Berhampur, his birthplace. While returning home from work, he felt mild pain in his chest and went to a nearby hospital for a check-up. But before being examined by a doctor, he succumbed to a massive heart attack. It was a bolt from the blue for me and I couldn’t recover from the shock.”
The incident completely shattered Annie. She slipped into depression and suffered from sleeplessness for the next six months. “He went too soon and it was difficult for me to return to normal life. Since I was anchoring a health magazine on Doordarshan, I frequently consulted the physicians to get rid of sleeplessness and depression,” recalls Annie.
However, being a mother helped her survive these dark hours. “My inner soul reminded me of my little daughter Ladli who was only nine-years old then and about my responsibility toward her. Soon, I realised that it will be difficult for me to look after my daughter unless I gather myself and start afresh. So, I tried to remain happy. But one thing I must say that during my lowest phase in life, my daughter stood by me like anything. Her words gave me the push to begin life all over again.”
Talking about the challenges single mothers face and what they should do to address them, she said, “They do not need anybody’s support or help, all they need is to be left alone so that they can cope with the changes in a society where they are considered incomplete without men in their lives. It often hurts when people treat the single mothers, especially those become single not by choice, as ‘bichari’.”
At times, some people like the so-called well wishers and neighbours come up with their unsolicited advices which are very irritating, says Annie. “Following my husband’s death, some people started behaving with us in a different way which was annoying. So, you need to ignore them and concentrate hard on better parenting of your child,” adds the actress.
When asked about her message to the single mothers, Annie says “Whether by choice or due to the circumstances, the single mothers should accept the truth as soon as possible. They should not feel alienated from society. They should move on in life and do things which are better for the future of their children.”
A women getting divorced for delivering a daughter is unthinkable in a civilised society these days. But this had happened with Auroshrita Arpita of Bhubaneswar, who has been looking after both her six-year-old daughter and her parents for the last four years after being abandoned by her husband.
Auroshrita got married to a soft skills trainer in January 2013 after doing her BA with English honours from Rama Devi Women’s college. “Both of us were quite happy till our daughter was born. Despite being an educated man, he was not happy as our first child was a girl. After that he started maintaining a distance from me. I tried to save the relationship, but in vain. My daughter Harshita was born in September, 2014 and I received the divorce notice in May 2015. We parted ways in the year 2016. Soon after, I slipped into depression and made a suicide attempt. I was devastated when he called me to inform about his remarriage,” says Auroshrita.
She continues: “After the divorce, dealing with the changing scenario was not easy. Then, one of my friends made me join an online meditation class. There, I learnt Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique, which helped me beat depression and anxiety. Now, I have moved on and am leading a happy life with my family members those who really matter. Even as I am single, I am sure I can raise my daughter well sans the presence of dad in her life. I have no anger left for my husband. Rather, I am thankful to him for making me realise my potential.”
Giving her message to the single mothers, Auroshrita says, “Being a single mother is a kind of taboo even in today’s patriarchal society. So, in order to overcome depression, you have to do things that can help you relax and give more energy. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, meditation and learning how to better manage stress and setting your own goals. Cherish all those things that you have got in your life even the small and insignificant ones and be in peace with yourself.”
The struggle of Astaranga-based Kanan Maiti, a mother of two, is epic. This single mother took every odd job she could find in order to ensure her children’s education and their happiness. Kanan, after the death of her husband Pradip in cancer, is finding it hard to manage things at home. Though she is working as the Bijli Didi, a contractual post under the state government, a monthly earning of Rs 1500 is too little to keep her home fires burning. However, she hasn’t given up and confident of giving her kids a better future.
“My husband, a nature lover, was diagnosed with last stage cancer in 2015. Despite suffering from excruciating pain, he continued to work for conservation of Olive Ridleys. After his death, I left to fend for myself. A loan of Rs 5 lakh which I had taken for my husband’s treatment has only added to my woes. I am struggling hard to repay the remaining Rs 2lakh with my meagre salary,” says Kanan.
It is not easy for a young woman to raise her kids in husband’s absence. Single moms often face illicit approaches by other men, ranging from mild flirtations, to subtle hints to sexual harassment. The circumstances were more or less the same for Kanan. Be she accepted the challenges and she learnt to stay alone with her kids with dignity. Kanan hope that the tough time she is going through will be a thing of past and she can give a better upbringing to her kids.
Rashmi Rekha Das, OP