“No time for myself?”- 19 November 2014.

It is, no doubt, a typical story, discussed time and again. Yet, the issue it throws up deserves attention time and again. It is the story of a woman, any woman, who is employed in a responsible position, married and has to take care of her husband, two children, and parents-in-law.

When she was in school and college, Avanti was famous for her artistic achievements. That she played table tennis well and won medals was the smaller part of the story. But more importantly, she kept mesmerising the audiences with her singing concerts, with her Bharatnatyam dance in which she has taken advanced tuitions, and by her water-colour paintings that were attractions in any art exhibition and fetched good price.
Naturally, such a girl got great job offers upon completing her post graduation and MBA, and started working in a reputed company. She fell in love with a colleague who was also an achiever, and the two got married. Two children came in the first 6-7 years of marriage, and the professional work and family responsibilities took the big toll of Avanti’s arts. She forgot everything and got immersed in office and home, and often prided in saying that she had been able to manage work-life balance efficiently.
At the end of the day, or late in the night, Avanti would be so tired after a 16-hour day that she would just collapse in bed and fall asleep within split-second, only to wake up very early next morning to start another gruelling day.
Nothing wrong in this story, we might say.
True, on the surface, there was nothing wrong in Avanti’s story.
And even Avanti also believed — until one day an old friend — Shefalika — came calling.
It was a Sunday morning, and Avanti was busy in the kitchen, after having bathed and fed the two kids of 6 years and 4 years of age. The bell rang, and Avinash, Avanti’s husband, opened the door. Shefalika ran straight into the kitchen to meet her friend. They were meeting after many years. That was a great Sunday as the two friends talked and talked and giggled and even fought.
Then, as they sat down for a late lunch, Shefalika asked Avanti whether she was still continuing with her arts.
Most naturally, Avanti replied, “Look dear, I have no time to pursue those. I am busy since morning till late night in work and family.  Where is the time for the arts?”
Askance, Shefalika asked, “And don’t you miss your arts? And are you happy with this situation?”
Avanti fell silent for a long time. Then, slowly she spoke, almost in whispers, “You know, until you asked, I never realised that I was missing something in my busy and successful life. But now that you asked the question, I realise that my life is not as successful as it would have been if I had pursued my arts as I did previously. I am not unhappy, of course, but after you asked, I have suddenly started missing my arts. I am not unhappy, but I feel, my life is not complete without the arts, something I did not realise until now.
That the conversation made much difference and Avanti started planning to get introduced to the arts once again, is a different and happy story. But, from a woman’s point of view, Avanti’s story should be treated as an eye-opener. For, when life takes over and becomes a serious business with work professional and personal challenges, many fine dimensions of personality get ignored. This may be happening with men as well, but more so with women. That is so because they are the ones who have to take care of the home and hearth. And it is at that point that they start swerving away from their finer nuances, like did Avanti.
And for such women, the only excuse is that they no time for themselves.
This is the biggest bunkum. Time is never available on the platter. But one has to make effort to make it available to pursue fine things of life that makes one happy. Fulfilment lies in the all rounded development and experience of life. This is the only message that I glean from Avanti’s life.


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