It took me 15 years to get to the position I was at. Mrs. Vyjanti Iyer – Sales and Marketing head IHC. In these 15 years I had made a family; given birth to a boy, who was extremely smart and handsome, and had done well for myself personally. I was the proud owner of a well kept house in Boat Club Road, boasted of being a member at almost all the clubs in Chennai and was always invited to the best social do’s in the city. My husband, Dr. Shyam Iyer, was equally if not more successful. He headed the cardiology department at Apollo Hospitals. Ours was an arranged marriage which had worked out well for the two of us. Neither of us had the time to fall in love and when we were gently pushed into this arranged set-up, we very gladly agreed to it.
The first two years of being married was a struggle. Contrary to what people say about the initial few years! It took me two years to establish that I would be working, and that work was extremely important to me. My husband, Shyam, soon got so busy climbing the success ladder in the hospital that what I did stopped affecting him. I couldn’t have thanked god more for that. I got pregnant in my fourth year of marriage. I remember that year being the longest year of my life. I was advised complete bed-rest since there were not less than a million complications with my pregnancy. From gestational diabetes to all-day-sickness to rheumatoid arthritis to a severe bout of jaundice in my seventh month of pregnancy. I had it all, in abundance.
I was more than happy to finally have delivered my son on 8th October 1984. Another few months and I would be able to resume work; I would be back on the social circuit and back to living my life. My son was an angel. I never had trouble with him, he seemed to sense how busy and important our work was and was completely independent from as early as I can remember. I was ever thankful for the amazing god-sent in-laws I had. Not only did they live close by but they were always offering to look after my son. He spent most of his time with them, stayed there, ate there, studied there, fell ill there, had his first fall there, his first word was spoken there, his first step was taken there, he basically did everything there.
I cannot take away the fact that as parents we were always there for our son, we attended all his school functions, parent –teacher meets, his annual school events, school anniversaries, and exhibitions. All of it. We were proud parents and walked with that pride. Our son never let us down. He was exceptionally good at class, a pro in sports and was such a talented writer. He wrote with such honesty and clarity. He wasn’t a very demanding child, he was happy with himself. He was always doing something or attending some class. He was the envy of all the other mothers and my bundle of joy. I tried to juggle everything I had on my plate. We ensured that we ate together as a family atleast thrice a week. I enjoyed cooking, but my work never left me with enough time to cook. The family dinners were special to me; they gave me time with my son. I asked about school, his friends, his day, and everything else. Shyam and I worked very hard to provide our son with the best of everything. I had these momentary guilty pangs, when I felt that I didn’t spend as much time with my son, when I saw the other mothers so involved and clued in about everything that was happening in their child’s life. I tried very hard; I gave it my best shot.
As the years passed by, I got busier and busier. The family dinners reduced, the interaction between us as a family declined, and so did the time I spent in the country. There were some lonely nights I spent thinking about my son and home. I lay awake for hours together in hotels thinking of all that I had possibly missed back at home; thinking of what my son had eaten for breakfast, thinking of whether or not his school uniform was well ironed, thinking of what he did after school, before I knew it I would fall asleep. The morning would again be a mad rush, meetings, dead-lines, lunches, and networking.
After putting in 28 long years into the company, it was time for me to call it a day. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or sad that my work was coming to an end. So much had happened in these years. My son was a well recognised and acclaimed novelist, my husband was no more, my bank balance ran into figures that I could not even begin to fathom, and my life had become monotonous. I had to come to terms with this sudden change and it was going to take a lot of time for me to get used to the idleness.
On 16th September 2007, my son’s new book was being released at the Tag Centre. I was looking forward to it keenly. I walked into the hall, a proud mother on the outside but a nervous and insecure mother in the inside. I didn’t know my son, I wasn’t there when he grew up, never saw his bruises, never packed his lunch, never asked about his girlfriend(s). I was never there. I walked in with a plethora of these emotions running through my head. The function started at 6:30pm, as scheduled. The book was released by a noted historian. I was handed the first copy and as I opened the first page, tears rolled down my cheek. I sat there on the dais and wept. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. I read and re-read the lines again and again and again.
It read – I dedicate this book to my mother, who sacrificed so much for me, who worked relentlessly to make me who I am, who is my biggest support, who means the world to me. Thank you, Amma.