Deepika Warrier (left) with her mother who has been her pillar of strength
My mother has Vascular Dementia. The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me as it has allowed me to be able to be with her, albeit working in the next room, as her brain shrinks and she struggles to hold on to the essence of her.
My mother is a strong Malayalee woman who wanted to study beyond her undergrad degree, but was unable to, for the usual reasons of her time. She went on to become the principal of the army school where we were stationed and in her 50s, post widowhood discovered a second career tutoring and bringing up my doctor sister’s children.
She quietly and uncompromisingly enabled her two daughters, my conformist sister and me, the rebel, to achieve their potential, with the right nudges, and with unflinching support when I took the wrong turns.
She was a bit incredulous when I started my management career, doubted my planning and execution skills (I was a bit of a klutz at home!), but knew that my confidence, gift of the gab and ability to put people at ease would be my saviour. Her favourite maxim, lovingly lampooned by her grandchildren, is “There is no point crying over spilt milk”, that underlined her down-to-earth philosophy to keep moving forward with no regrets.
She also didn’t place too much value on external laurels as we progressed in our lives and careers, but on nurturing the next generation, imbuing them with the right values of family, kindness, hard work, community and a good mix of religion and rationality.
She was there when I took my maternity breaks and post, easing me back into work. And finally when my husband was hospitalised and then passed, she was there to cover for me at home with my children and so much more. In the earlier stages of her illness, I would ask her, “Mum, should I stop working and spend time with you," and she would emphatically shake her head and say no.
So Mom, I know that you don’t like or expect tributes and will not read this one for sure, thank you. I promise to not cry over spilt milk and to ‘keep walking’ and to nurture your legacy of creating a strong independent yet rooted next generation.
‘To her, with love’ is a Storyboard18 special series where women in leadership tell us about the women who inspired them and led the way. A shout-out to her.