Most of us may know of a single mother who has faced life’s challenges alone. SheThePeople.TV brings to you the story of one such person, a mother who hasn’t heard from her children for the past 14 years, a mother who didn’t change her matrimonial surname hoping her children would seek her out someday. A mother who so dearly loves her two children that she believes, them not contacting her means they are happy and safe and that is all what matters to her. Aarti Sharma 49 is an academic director and principal at a school in Mumbai. She shares the struggles she had to face with us.

What hurts is that I haven’t got a closure till date. He made me feel that I wasn’t up to the mark as a wife and I still cannot fathom how! -Aarti Sharma

The Hardships

Aarti, married for love, she lived a contented life with her husband and two little children. However, her happiness came to a halt with a bitter divorce in 2004. “The initial years were very tough. It was a bitter divorce. I lost custody of my children. Though I had the right to them, I decided not to assert it for a very simple reason that my ex-husband and his now wife used to brainwash my children against me and scare them. So, rather than having two children who were emotionally worked up, I decided to move out of the scene. I wanted them to settle down well first. It was tough and hard on me.”

Aarti at that time left the city for a while and worked hard to be where she is today. She is currently in a happy place, taking on life as it comes.

The Strength

Having gone through a mountain of hardships, we asked her where is it that she derives her strength from, she said, “Family. My father has helped me sail through the storm. After my divorce, he pushed me to pursue my education, become financially independent and get on with life. My mother, brother and sister-in-law have been huge pillars of support throughout.”
Aarti, has touched the lives of several women in whatever way she could. Bringing education into these women’s lives has been her biggest contribution. Also, helping them overcome their fears has enhanced her inner strength.

Single hence

They may be widows, abandoned, divorced, or simply unmarried, society’s view is still very narrow-minded regarding single women. One such challenge that Aarti is currently facing because of her single status, is that of getting a good place to live in Mumbai, a city which is supposedly the most forward when it comes to progressive mindsets. Sadly, it is not the case in Aarti’s house-hunting experience. Aarti says, “After almost eighteen years, now to re-settle in Mumbai is another challenge. Despite the fact that I am going to be living with my mother, I still have people not agreeing to rent out a flat to me. They don’t even consider the significance that I am heading a school and dealing with several children and parents on a daily basis. Don’t couples and families also create nuisance in buildings and cooperative societies?”

“I’m not sorry about anything”

As for society’s reaction after a divorce, it changes overnight. Some people pity, some resort to demeaning remarks and some simply don’t care at all. The only thing Aarti wanted was an honest closure at the time of divorce, which she didn’t get till date.
On being asked whether she has ever had moments where she felt bouts of self-pity, she replies, “I am not sorry. I come from a Punjabi family, had a fairytale wedding, was married for 11 years, satisfied in my own world with two babies. Never thought something would be going behind my back. His infidelity led to the divorce. What hurts is that I haven’t got a closure till date. He made me feel that I wasn’t up to the mark as a wife and I still cannot fathom how!”

Selfless love for her children

When asked about her children she simply said, “I am hopeful my children are in a safe place, they’re happy, they’re
doing stuff. If they haven’t contacted me yet, I think they don’t need me, and that is fine. However, I haven’t changed my matrimonial surname till date. It keeps me connected to them in a little way. Also, I believe if they want to find me it will be easier for them this way.”

On a parting note Aarti said, “It’s not the end of the world. It’s a matter of mind and deciding that you can do it. Also, life is too precious to give up for anyone or anything.”

The fight for a respectable identity in society for single mothers still has a long way to go. Aarti’s father is not with her anymore, but the strength that he passed on to her is what keeps her going. The fact that she did not change her matrimonial surname even after a bitter divorce, so that her children could easily contact her if they needed her, tells us why she is the most wonderful mother one can have, who so dearly loves her children that she stepped back for their best interest, pushing down her emotions in a little corner of her heart.

Read more stories by Bhawana

Bhawana is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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