Mixed Media on cradled wood board
6" h X 12" w X 1.5" d; 2023
Embrace the Change
Life can unexpectedly throw curveballs our way, compelling us to embrace change. During my upbringing, I never witnessed my dad's illness, except for a bout of flu. I vividly recall sitting beside him at seven, feeling his rugged old blanket, discussing nitrogen and oxygen—precious moments with a pharmaceutical rep who often traveled. At thirteen, my father's sudden illness led to his passing from a cerebral hemorrhage. My mother swiftly shifted gears to support her three small children. Teaching sewing in the neighborhood and taking weekend projects, she exhibited strength and determination, navigating challenges to raise us with faith and integrity.
One monsoon evening, at around six or seven years old, I sat on our cracked black oxide kitchen floor as my mom prepared dinner. The heavy rainfall, frog croaks, and thunderstorms heightened my worry for my traveling dad. I longed for his early return in the darkness after a power outage. Mom reassured me, and, indeed, my dad arrived home safely. Over three decades have passed since his departure, yet the longing for that lost love persists. The depth of losing a loved one lingers, but finding solace lies in living and reliving the joyful moments that bind us.
Sometimes, circumstances force us to silence our voices to blend in. A couple of years post my dad's passing, my mother, younger siblings, and I relocated to our maternal family home. I was fifteen, my brother thirteen, and my sister five. Despite familial obligations, there were moments when we felt burdensome. It was a challenging phase. My brother and I were split from our mother and sister, residing in separate households. It took nearly two years for us to reunite as a family, eventually securing a small, happy home with the savings my dad left for us.
Will I Make It to the Other Side?
From childhood to adulthood, I embraced mediocrity, particularly in academics, showing little curiosity or eagerness to learn. My aunt, concerned about my potential, questioned my lack of effort, urging me to excel in school. I settled for average grades with minimal effort, only realizing the downside when facing the competitiveness of college admissions. The nagging question persisted — would I make it to the other side? Open to any major, I recognized the importance of a college education for securing a job and supporting my family. Driven by responsibility, I majored in Economics and obtained a diploma in Computer Programming, marking the starting point of my life's journey.
Having My Back
Adhering to the mantra of "fake it until you make it," I applied this philosophy to secure my first job, and not only did I succeed, but I thrived. Opting for a degree in Economics wasn't my passion, but circumstances dictated my choice, coinciding with the booming technology industry in the nineties. A short entrance exam earned me a financial scholarship for a computer programming diploma despite computers not being my forte. Despite this, I earned both the diploma and the Economics degree with a decent GPA, landing my first job as an academic counselor at a nationally recognized computer institute. Embracing team projects, organizing, presenting, and meeting goals, I found joy in my work. Grateful for the opportunity to support my family, I acknowledged that while I could have been more academically exemplary, the values instilled by my parents guided me on my journey.
In 1999, I moved to the United States with my husband, having no acquaintances except him. With my family in India needing a phone, their neighbor graciously facilitated our communication, though limited due to costly international calls. Confronting homesickness and cultural shock, everything felt foreign except for my husband. Simple gestures, language barriers, and the limited availability of vegetarian options when dining out posed challenges in my new life. Now, over two decades later, homesickness has eased. My English has improved, and diverse Vegetarian options abound. Calling my family on WhatsApp is seamless. I've come a long way, embracing boundless opportunities and feeling all good :)
Thinking of home, I envision the house of my tween years, where my grandma's sweet voice called my name and my grandpa served porridge for dinner. It's a mental image of slipping into a hand-pressed, crisp white and blue school uniform each morning, my mom busily packing my lunch and braiding my hair. There are echoes of my aunt urging me to focus on my studies, my uncle’s silly jokes, and memories of tantrums, silly fights, and joyous moments with my younger brother. Life wasn't always rosy, with sickness, financial struggles, and several losses, including my dad's passing at a young age. Yet, those years instilled values of giving, sharing, kindness, nurturing, and, above all, the spirit of faith, hope, and resilience. Today, I strive to impart these values in the home I've created with my children and husband.
In my early twenties, my mother encouraged me to learn cooking, sewing, and home organization. While I resisted, I was never disrespectful when she needed help. Although I enjoyed organizing, cooking and sewing weren't my forte. Before moving to the United States, she handwrote a book of recipes, perhaps as consolation for her perceived lack of success with me. I'm grateful for her efforts. Becoming a mother shifted my perspective, making me appreciate what I had taken for granted. Motherhood is beautiful, though parenting is challenging. My children opened a new world, and the exchange of learning goes both ways. I've improved as a cook, though sewing isn't my strong suit. Blessed as a painter, I get to share my stories!
My Inner Child
As an artist, I experience fluctuations in doubting my beliefs and competence. Teaching myself to mitigate those feelings, I focus on looking inward for reassurance.