• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 10


My grandmother wanted to go to university but her education was stopped at school. India was not independent but was slowly veering towards it. It was learning to dream big in the hope of their fruition. But my grandmother had no such luck; her dreams for herself would be dashed prematurely. Married off at 17 to a man in his 30s, she would go on to have nine children. She would read in her kitchen, everything from newspapers to novellas, in the little time that she got between chopping vegetables and frying them and between cooking meat and cleaning utensils. Since she never had the privilege of getting a college education, she ensured all of her children did; despite the fact that her husband passed away when she was only 36 years old, leaving her with little savings. My grandmother sustained herself and her children on her husband’s meagre pension. She would go on to live for 80 years. But you could count on your fingers the number of times she went outside her home. Yet she knew a world of possibilities existed and her children had to explore them to the best of their abilities.

My mother grew up a rebel. She did not want to be confined within the four walls of a house for life. She was frightened for her future every time someone mentioned marriage. Circumstances had not led her to believe that marriage was enough assurance for a secure future. Her mother helped her get an education despite numerous hardships. Mother wrote exams feverishly to land a job. Her escape was well planned and executed.

My grandmother lived in a town far away from us. But she kept me in her prayers. She dreamed bigger dreams for me than she had for her daughter. She was proud when I went to college, prouder when I got into university. My mother would worry about me living with strangers in a strange place but my grandmother firmly believed that I would be able to adjust to my new environment. I think she lived vicariously through me.



My mother gave me greater freedoms than she had had growing up. For example, I was allowed to make my own decisions. I was allowed to travel alone. These were privileges I knew some of my friends did not have; privileges my mother did not have because of her circumstances. My mother wanted me to be fiercely independent. She says it is a gift she received from her mother and it needs to be passed down to generations. So I know I have this life because my grandmother dared to think audaciously and imagine endless horizons through small windows and amidst four walls.