“I have always believed life is like a sea. Sometimes so tranquil and calm, and then it becomes raging and deadly in an instant depicting how suddenly life can throw challenges at you.
What amazes me is the unpredictability of both life and the sea. At times, some waves can make you unsteady on your feet. However, sometimes there is a Tsunami that completely changes the landscape of your life, and then nothing remains the same. Similarly at one moment, everything is going smoothly in life, and then suddenly something happens that can alter your life forever.
The waves of life sometimes take you with them, to the sea’s dark belly, and then just like that bounce you back on the shore. What you want to retrieve, from the hidden underbelly of the sea depends on you. It could be valuable pearls depicting strength and wisdom or debris full of resentment and anger.
No one can escape the challenges life throws at you. People love to talk about the times when hardships drown them, yet I only like to remember when I was able to come out of it wiser, stronger, and a far better human being than before.
I was born in Punjab, India, to a Communist leader, freedom fighter father and homemaker mother. My father was the most significant influence on my life. A strong-willed man, he led his life with simplicity, yet, believed in thinking big.
He would have conferences at home with his friends and party workers, and I would make sure to be part of all the conversations. Their discussions on literature, social issues, and overcoming obstacles, laid a solid foundation for me at a very early age. I shadowed my father everywhere, all the press conferences and public functions he went to, I accompanied him.
He was a feminist who believed in equal opportunities for both men and women. In those times, when girls were taught household chores from an early age, my father always gave priority to education. He strongly advocated financial independence for women.
While he wanted us to do well academically, yet, when we didn’t, we were always encouraged and motivated. That was one of the biggest reasons, we not only celebrated our successes with him but also shared our failures with him without any fear.
He believed in discipline but led by example, one reason I still lead a very disciplined life. He instilled in us that we need to work on our inner beauty more than the exterior looks.
My mother was a spiritual lady who supported my father completely. First, being a freedom fighter and then as a communist leader, my father led a very uncertain life. There were times he would go into hiding for months, and my mother would single-handedly take care of the house and all of us. A woman of few words, her strength and resilience showed in her actions and character. I learned not only resilience from her but my indomitable attitude and faith too.
I was only 17 when I got married. My husband was the son of my father’s very close friend, and my father felt I would lead a happy life with him. I had many apprehensions regarding my marriage at such an early age but decided to go ahead anyway.
My husband was in the Army, so while he was posted in a non-family station, I stayed back and completed my graduation and my Master’s. After completing my Master’s, I completed my Teacher’s training and started working as a teacher.
Over some time, I had three daughters and got busy in my job and taking care of the house. My husband was a very humble and likable person. We respected each other, but there was a lack of companionship. However, I always redirected my thoughts to the blessings, Universe had bestowed us with. Three healthy, well-mannered, hardworking girls, and love of my family always filled me with gratitude.
After a few years, my husband left the Army and moved to the UK, while I stayed back in India with our three daughters. As my husband did not have a stable job in the UK, all the financial and children’s responsibilities fell on me. I would finish my work, get the girls ready for school, and leave for my job. After returning, I would finish the house chores, help the children with their homework, and spend time with them. Life was hectic, yet we had nothing to complain about.
I gave my children the confidence that they could discuss anything with me, and they, in turn, never let me down. My children were, and still are, my strength. After they finished school, I realized we couldn’t stay in a small town, because of their higher education, and decided to move to the city.
I hired a small pickup van loaded with essential household stuff and moved to rented accommodation. I had to travel every day to work for two hours from our new house. I sometimes took the bus and sometimes traveled on a two-wheeler, yet my love and dreams for my children kept me going.
My daughters supported me in every possible way. My oldest Roop, completed her Masters, my second daughter Raman, pursued sports and even participated in Asian games. My youngest Navreet, a scholarship holder, completed her Engineering.
A lot of people ask me how I could do this without any support. And I tell them I never thought I was alone. I had the encouragement of my family, my daughters’ support, and my faith, which helped me find my path every time I felt lost. At times I felt sorry for myself, especially when things and circumstances didn’t go as expected. During those days, my only focus was to get through the day without expecting too much from myself.
I have always believed nothing in life is permanent, neither good times nor bad. If you always remember life’s impermanency, you would never be too vain during good times or too despondent during tough times. “This too shall pass” stands true not only for bad times but also for good times.
I also experienced lots of highs and lows in my life. Death of my brother, losing my parents, and not being able to enjoy a normal married life. But I have always believed in practicing gratitude, which has helped me in all phases of my life.
After my daughters completed their education, we migrated to the UK to join my husband. The first few years were tough for us. At the age of 58, I took up a job as a carer. Before we could even settle down properly, my husband passed away. I worked for a few years, and then on the insistence of my children decided to retire.
All my daughters are settled and happily married now. I have found sons in my sons-in-law. Though my children want me to live with them, I have my own house, and I live there. It not only gives space to my children to build healthy relationships with their partners but also gives me a sense of independence.
My advice to parents, try and spend as much time with your children as possible. I strongly believe in leading by example. Don’t tell your children what to do, show them. If you want them to listen to you, listen to them first. Value their opinions and work as a team.
Parents generally complain about children having too much screen time. I believe whether we like it or not, technology has become an essential part of our lives, hence teach your children how they can use technology for their benefit.
Today I share a firm bond not only with my daughters but also with their husbands. And every time I see the love for me in my grandchildren’s eyes, I know it was all worth it.”
“If you only carry one thing throughout your entire life, let it be hope. Let it be hope that better things are always ahead. Let it be hope that you can get through even the toughest of times. Let it be hope that you are stronger than any challenge that comes your way. Let it be hope that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now, and that you are on the path to where you are meant to be…… Because during these times hope will be the very thing that carries you through.” Nikki Banas
Malkiat Kaur lives in the UK. She is retired, but follows a very disciplined life. To keep fit, she exercises regularly and goes for daily walks. A voracious reader, she enjoys gardening in her spare time. She loves cooking for her family.
Picture Credit : Malkiat Kaur
Written By : Vibha Kapil