She stared at herself in the mirror and felt confident at how sharp she looked in her business suit. She thought to herself “Wow! Now nothing can stop me!” It was her first day at work and she felt that sense of accomplishment that she had done it. She was independent and proud of it.
23-year old Tara reflected on her life so far in the mirror that day. She had come a long way. She was raised to be the apple of her parents eye, she was the diligent first born, the independent middle child and the pampered little baby of her family. She was everything to her parents. But her dream was to stand tall and to be somebody who her parents could be proud of.
Today she stood in her own little penthouse, it was just outside New York City- they say it’s the greatest city in the world, a plethora of culture and vast vividness. Anybody with a regular paycheck may not have been able to afford it. It was a small studio, yet in suburban New York it could cost many a people an arm and a leg. Of course she had put in tremendous effort into going to grad school at a prestigious Ivy League institution and she would be starting her job in the Mecca of the financial world, Wall Street.
At 23 there were very few people in her position. She had her own swanky car. And not just a regular car. She had one that could make that pompously rich aunty of hers red with jealousy. Life could not have been better. She had a great job and loving parents and a loving beau- who lived on the other side of the country in San Francisco but he was living it up too. They both would be the “It” couple with their extremely successful careers.
This was Tara’s dream and she was living it.
They said the hey day would soon be over. But she didn’t think it would affect her, she brushed those aside. She was living in the moment and taking in every minute of her independence and her success. She was what you would call a success and she was basking in it.
Then she saw it come. And how! Recession had hit America like never before. And all Tara could hear about at work were “downsize” “lay off.” She was, but terrified. Tara was a hard working and intelligent woman, she couldn’t lose her job. And living in New York apparently wasn’t as rosy as it seemed to the outside world. When she spoke to relatives and friends, they could not stop gloating about how amazing her life was, yet she felt it. Emptiness. The weather was a struggle, she hardly took her expensive car outside and she was paying a lot of money for things that didn’t matter to her anymore.
She had few real friends in New York City. Her best friends lived in all corners of the world. The love of her life, a 7 hour flight away and her parents, 8000 miles away. Tara worked day and night to keep her job and she did great. She was an indispensable asset to her company. But the fear of losing everything she had to the recession ate her constantly. It was then, that she made a decision. The hardest decision she had made. To give up her dream, to give up everything she owned.
She walked home, tired from the bus stop. She was in a cotton salwar kameez. She went home and kicked up her heels. Her mother (in-law) brought her a glass of water and asked her how her day was with a smile. She felt the warm hand on her head as she heard “You look tired today.”
Her 3 year old daughter came running up to her and told her “Maa, Grandma, grandpa took me to the park today and we saw butterflies.” She went on to chatter animatedly about the colors of the butterfly and about her little trip to the park.
Tara half listened as her mind meandered. Yes she didn’t look as sharp in the wrinkly salwar kameez. She didn’t have a car that would make her aunty jealous, but she did have a great new car that got her to all parts of the town if she was willing to bear the traffic. But most of all, she wasn’t independent, she was dependent today. On her parents who lived a good 10 minutes away from her house, she was dependent on her in-laws who dotingly took care of her little baby as she went out to work, she was dependent on her husband whose head massages at the end of the day made her sleep oh! so peacefully at night. But they were all dependent on her love and care too. That’s how families functioned.
This was her moment of reflection as she thought to herself. She was so much happier going to work in her hometown. Her ivy-league degree raised eye-brows in any part of the world. She was hired into a pretty high position at a very early stage in her career, which made her work long hours. But she had all these loving caring people to make her dreams come true.
That’s when she realized that she was living in a haze until she boarded that last flight back home. Yes, It was the hardest flight she ever took, fighting every instinct of hers but, sleeping on her husband’s shoulder eased the burden just a little bit. As she sat there staring at her 3 year old, she could not have seen life more clearly, and had it not been for the sepia dreams, she would never have realized the true colors of life.