Holding my little one in my arms was the best thing ever. The tiny hands, the smile and the laughter, the frequent nappy changes, vaccination visits to the paediatrician, late nights kept me busy for the initial few months post delivery. But as I settled into this new role of life, a void started gnawing deep down somewhere inside me. Anxious feeling of exams is nearing and not able to study kept on creeping up. I end up with this feeling when my anxiety of something unknown reaches its peak. It took me some time to realise what had been haunting me. I was missing being a career woman. I did love my daughter, was enjoying this new phase of my life, but was missing the daily grind of mental work, which my profession offered me.
It had been six months. I started contemplating getting back to work. Joining back any office full time was out of the question. Except an old mother in law, had no one at home to look after my angel in my absence. I didn’t have the heart to leave her in the hands of a maid or under the care of a crèche, had already had my fill of horror stories revolving around them.
So going out for work had to be ruled out. Then I turned inwards, what sort of work could I do from home. Being a media person, I loved going out for shoots, meeting new people, learning new things, working on new topics. Working from home left me with writing and editing as choices. I was into writing earlier. I used to do my scripts. But that used to be a part of a whole film. Delhi, as a city has its limitations for freelancers.
As an independent writer, there was hardly any work to write film scripts. Another six months passed. My daughter’s first birthday was just round the corner, when suddenly I got a call from a colleague of yesteryear. There was a BBC production happening in Delhi. The crew was flying in from London, and they needed two local people for production. She wanted me to join her for this project. I was elated. It was a week – long project. The crew was staying in a hotel in Gurgaon, as most of the shoot was located there. I opted to travel every day. I lived in Ghaziabad, almost a two and a half hour travel.
My husband was supportive. He took care of the little one in my absence. I used to leave at 6 in the morning after preparing breakfast and lunch. After a two-hour metro ride and a 15-minute auto journey, I would reach my workplace. Running around the whole day, I would arrive home after another harrowing ride back in the metro. As soon as I would step into the house, it was the kitchen where I had to go, even though my whole body would be demanding a few minutes of rest. But dinner had to be served.
I was on automation for that one full week. Trying to reclaim my career, catering to the household needs, tending the baby, even Hercules would have got tired of it all!
By the end of the project (somehow I survived that week) I was asking too many questions to myself. Is ignorance bliss? Can I convert myself into one of those mums who are happy being home-makers? How much I started envying them! Is work-life balance a real thing or a myth, or was I a poor time manager? I was unaware of another bouncer waiting for me.
My week’s absence from home had somehow made my daughter insecure. She became extremely clingy. Earlier she used to be carefree even when I wasn’t around, but after that week, she wouldn’t let me out of her sight for a second also. And to add fuel to the fire, my mother in law started commenting. Why do I need to leave a year old child and go out to work? What is the urgency, why couldn’t I stay put at home and look after the child?
It’s been six years now. Have been blessed with another baby. But my career seems as elusive as it was back then, apart from some part time projects, which somehow I manage from home.
Text and images by Tasneem Dhinojwala