“The Sacredness of life is gift; Find the joy in your journey, because it is a way to say thank you in life” -April Peerless-My mother Rosemary was very accommodating and generous in taking the additional responsibilities of three grandmothers and my uncle’s family. I grew up in the family of 9 children and two grand mothers (my mom’s mother and my dad’s mother) and there was also my grandmother’s older sister with us. There were 5 brothers who were older to me, and two sisters older to me and one sister younger to me. We lived in Gunrock, Trimulgherry, we attended church services at to Holy Family Parish Church.
We were all baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and named after the saints, by the Sisters of Charity of the congregation of Bartholomea Vincenza. The sisters taught catechism and all us attended church regularly, and brought up in catholic faith and tradition. All nine of us as children studied in Holy Family School, run by the sisters of Charity in our early childhood. Later on my brothers were moved to the boy’s school nearby.
Early Years of My Life....
“Memories are timeless treasures of the heart”
Everyday morning we used to listen to Radio Ceylon where English pop songs were played by the Radio Jockey who used to be full of energy and vibrant in his compering. All India Radio used to also play English numbers in the evening hours from the local radio station.
From Ist standard till class V I was happy to go to school and made friends in school and have memories of my mother bringing lunch for all of us in the school. There was a huge neem tree where she used to make us (me and my siblings) sit on a mat and serve us lunch.
I wish we had a cell phone then I would have captured so many experiences in the camera. A big family is like a mini community; despite a small kitchen and a two rooms house there was a big heart and a generous attitude of my parents who could accommodate whoever came home. My mother used to cook for all of us eight children (minus my elder sister who joined convent early in life) with two elderly grandmothers and every summer we had my uncle’s seven children who used to stay with their grandmother but used to come to our house for meals.
My mother never ever complained of cooking for so many. Added to all this my cousin who was a nurse used to visit us on Sunday’s and holidays. My eldest first cousin would come to the city for holidays from Bihar and every day he would come home and stay the entire days of his holiday with us. When I recall all these things I often wonder how my mother could be so generous. I cook only for three persons every day and if another two or three come for a meal I get stressful in the kitchen J I think when we love people we don’t really get tired of doing good. I am blessed to have such generous parents who had their priorities right and always valued people more than things.
“The more we value things, the less we value ourselves” Bruce Lee
Growing up Years!
I was putting on weight as I reached the high school; I felt unhappy and embarrassed when I heard comments from those around me about my height, color of my skin and weight. This impacted my self concept and influenced my confidence level. I never like math and science and never scored in these subjects. I was interested in playing games and enjoyed singing and longed for games period.
I loved cycling and was restricted by my mother as she feared I might hurt myself. In our days they used to rent cycle for 25 paise for an hour. I used to rent the cycle along with my neighboring friends and we used to cycle in and around neighborhood. Even though we were a large family, we never went to bed hungry and there was always enough and a little more to share with extended families.The last year of the school was frightening. I was very nervous and anxious as I found difficulty with Maths and Science. When the final exams were announced in summer, my mother accompanied me to school as I was writing my 10th standard finals. I recall writing all the papers and fell sick for two papers with severe vomiting, nausea and fever so skipped two papers, which had to be repeated again. In the process I missed out on a year and by then by younger sister joined and she cleared in first attempt.
On account of which I was constantly compared with her intelligence which shattered my self concept and constant bombardment that I am not meant for higher education from my family environment affected me; at the same time it pushed me to work harder and focus on continuing education. It was very tough as colleges would never admit students with lower percentage of marks. By then my elder sister who joined the convent fell sick and died at a very young age of 26.
My life changed and it was as if I have developed wings to fly; I attended college, studied, History, Public Administration and Political Science. I made very good friends here, a small group of 4 students, and sometimes two more would join us. The library was my favorite and I spent a lot of time in the library and occasionally in the canteen too with friends. I am grateful to my mother who packed lunch every day for me, and while I studied degree I also learnt to type- I attended the type writing institute completed lower degree with 40 words per minute and regularly practiced higher degree typing speed which was 80 words per minute... I enjoyed learning to type and it became a biggest strength later on as I worked in different places, people noticed that my fingers moved faster on the system.
My friends were very loving and we shared our lunches and appreciated our moms for their creativity in packing every day different types of lunch. We worked hard and did all the assignments and helped one another complete the assignments and ensured that all of us submitted it on time. We traveled by public transport buses and luckily for us we had our St Francis Ladies special bus both in the morning and in the evening, which used to drop us right near our college gate.
Every time we completed a difficult assignment we used to go out together as a group and watch Hindi movies and have plenty of fun; we were also part of the NSS (National Service Scheme) in college and every year we used to have some issue to work with. I remember myself and two more friends being part of the Literacy Programme in the adjacent slum which was located a little away from our college. We used to go every Saturday and teach the children, help them with their home work and also teach them songs and dances.
We had opportunities to go out for camps and participate in the State and District programmes related to Safe Environment wherein we planted trees in the Osmania University campus and leveled the ground for playing cricket. We were also part of the Rural Reconstruction programme wherein we participated in laying roads along with workers in Warangal District.
Every year the college conducted retreats for the Catholic Students and being a catholic I attended all the retreats conducted in the college for 3 years. I made some friends who had deep faith in God, organised bible classes and prayer meetings. I was part of this group that helped me strengthen my faith in God and inspired me to read the bible and reflect and understand the meaning.
Time just flies and by the time we started loving college and being with friends, it was time to depart, we completed our graduation and as friends we were happy to be together for the graduation ceremony in our college where we were awarded our certificates and this day was a memorable day for us; as we were all dressed in white saris which was the dress code for students and we eagerly waited for the programme to end so that we can meet for the last time, so we decided to go for the industrial exhibition which was popular those days.
We took our certificates and went for some fun at this industrial exhibition, we sat in the giant wheel holding one another tightly due to fear as it was the first and the last time I sat in this wheel; we went around window shopping and ate samosa chaat and had a lot of fun and took one another's contact address and promised to stay in touch with one another. Now once again time to make decisions whether to continue education or take up job. My dad was getting sick and stopped working and was at home now, with BP and Diabetic due to stress of traveling long distance for work and returning late in the night.
When I found my dad struggling to make ends meet, and cycling everyday to work, in order to help us have a decent life. Though I had my brothers and two sisters working still it was not easy for my dad. By then two of my brothers married and both my sister in laws were home makers and so it was challenging for my dad who still took the total responsibility of the family. It is in this context that I decided to take up work in a convent school, wherein I worked as a lab assistant and also a substitute teacher.
|Me and our family|
My father passed away and my mother was worried about me; and constantly prayed for me so that I would settle down in marriage and she could be free from responsibility. Staying single was not acceptable in our community and there would be reminders that we either chose a convent life or get married. Since Convent and being single was ruled out of my life, the only option at that point of time was to get married. Now situation has changed I see so many women moving ahead in career and choosing to remain single and even going for adoptions of children without marriage. In our culture single life can never be an option even if you are educated and financially independent. It was also risky to stay alone unless you have a good support system to stand by you, otherwise its a challenge.
My mother was getting old, insecure as she had no pension, we lived in our own house which was on my mothers name, but the house did not generate money for her to live independently. Se had to be dependent on her children. As long as I was with her we managed as I worked and was single. All the other siblings tried helping her but they had their own families to take care. These experiences taught me to empower myself and always be financially independent - I made a decision as a women I will work and utilize my capacities to be independent and will never stop learning. So I enrolled myself to do another Post graduation programme in Sociology. Wile my mother's prayers were answered, as she kept on persistently looking out matches and talking to every person who came to meet her. My elder sister too tried hard visiting marriage bureaus's and finally through one of my colleague working with me, arranged this proposal and that's how I was married in the year 1999.
From a Daughter to a Daughter in law
Another phase of my life - married into a joint family with mother in law, brother in law and a sister in law. It took a whole year for me to adjust into this family. I learnt to speak Telugu as I found my in laws talking Telugu and I did not know a word of Telugu. I spoke in Hindi with my husband David as he was an ex serviceman from the army:) I learnt to cook as I was not a great cook, my mother was a smart cook and she knew how to cook without wasting and found creative ways to prepare recipes even from leftover food. I was supported very well in this family and that's how I could complete MA Sociology and thanks to my elder brother for sponsoring me with the fees. I continued to work in CHAI and was happy. I only used to feel bad for my mom as she became alone in the house and so along with other siblings I suggested her to move to one of the brother;s house so that she doesn't have to be alone especially with health issues, that way she found her way to stay at one of my brother's house.
Becoming a Mother
I was blessed with a child. We named her Maria Dorothy, who was a bundle of joy to our family.
|Maria Dorothy our daughter|
Then I joined another voluntary sector that worked with street children, addressed issues of child labour and focused on child rights. I was happy to serve in this place for another 7 years and got involved in all the other issues related to positive discipline, HIV& AIDS, Domestic Violence etc that organization took up as part of being relevant.
My husband David had his mother to support as his father left them at a young age, he was responsible for settling his younger sibling’s brother and a sister. So he did love our child, but was not able to give as much time as required.
|My Son Mario Emmanuel|
|Dorothy & Emmanuel at Infant Jesus church, Bangalore|
|Me & Mario Emmanuel|