“In a gentle way … you can shake the world” Mahatma Gandhi
Our stories are largely dictated by our choices. So to start with I’m no victim of mine. I had choices – but they were difficult ones. At a point I chose to let my daughter go, while I stayed behind in another country trying to find a better life for my disabled son – my child whom I was not able to help, but have learnt to accept and find contentment in his peace and happiness. And the smallest things made him happy – I couldn’t let that slip away too. So I let my daughter leave while I decided to remain in the UK to give him the chance to live on, and to live as a precious being. As I felt obliged to fight for one child, I had no intention to let the other pay for it.
When I let my daughter leave with her father last January, I thought our separation will only last for a few months. She is with her father and a family that loves her dearly and takes good care of her; and thanks to modern technology we can stay perfectly connected. It will be hard but it shall pass. Little did I know then, that the few months will mount to a year, almost! And we are all still – painfully – waiting.
As I continue with my choice to stay and battle for my son- the child without a voice, without a choice – a bit of me shatters for the other child, every single day.
Many around me will not relate to my experience, because I don’t know anyone who would be away from their child for so long. And truth is, no one should. However, many do. Not from my world perhaps, but from the same world in which we all exist.
My agonizing experience shook my world and brought me to a different place – a place where parents and children separate every day. Wars tear families apart, but poverty more so. Poverty does it silently but persistently and painfully. Domestic help in many households around the world come from impoverished countries. Countless mothers leave their little children behind, travel across boundaries to work and provide for their basic needs. They often even have to take care of other people’s children while they remain separated from their own, in some cases for years. Many have I seen myself in the households of family and friends, smiled in their faces, enjoyed their services and overlooked their pain.
Have they had a choice? Yes, but it was between love and food, care and education, the presence of a mother or the sustenance of life itself – even if without love. It is wrong in every way. No mother should have to make this choice.
My choice was hard but not as harsh. However, the pain made me reflect on other lives to which this destiny is inevitable – perhaps even the only way to survive. We think we are isolated and safe but truth is we are not separate in anyway. We actually have a responsibility towards those whose choices are painful because their conditions are dire. Voices that speak against poverty and disasters in remote parts of the world used to feel so removed – but we are the ones removed from the real world and its agonizing reality. And we are all responsible to reach out to those who suffer, even if they fall beyond our little boundaries.
Last week my 8 year old daughter told me, “I want to write a story, the story of us, when life was perfect.” At this point you realize that your child has learnt loss – and now knows sorrow.
My daughter battles with me, just like millions of children toil with the parents who left them behind – they toil emotionally. We make our choices to the best of our abilities and knowledge – and some come with painful consequences. But the pain should gain us more compassion, and perhaps take us beyond our personal troubles and limited worlds. I may not have solutions for myself and others but through my agony I wish to be a little voice – a voice for those who are not able to speak of their pain or to let the world know how harsh their choices were.
The reason I write this is to undress a wound that drips freshly in my life every day. I expose it to the world as I realize it belongs not to me alone. Perhaps if we could all see a little, feel a little and reach out a bit more, we could then, in a “gentle way … shake the world.”