I was 18 years old when I lost my father to a heart attack and my beautiful mother was 50,” said Riddhima Shrivastava in a closely bound group of friends who sat together to discuss the loss of their loved ones.
But this story not about her. This story is about her mother who stood up, picked up the shattered pieces of her life and started it all over again, for her daughters who were 18 and 20 years old back then.
Meet, Mrs Alpana Shrivastava, the woman with the will of steel and heart of pure gold. Like every mother, she is protective, charming and so giving.
Since she was very little, she had a lot of questions, she had her own way of doing things and that is probably why she shattered a lot of stereotypes. She was the only girl in her community to complete not only her school and graduation but also her post-graduation.
Born to the DSP of Police in Bhopal, she was 15 years younger to her eldest sibling. Also, her weekend getaway were always either the police station and the jail. Not to mention that she has played in the lap of Lt. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and met Indira Gandhi in person because she was never shy and loved to be on her father’s side, always.
But life was never easy for her. She lost her mother when she was very little and learned how to cook at the age of 10. She fed her entire family and cared for them.
She never wanted to leave her father’s side and that is why she married at the age of 29, when her father had to give in almost everything to convince her. Also, it can be duly noted that she married in a house only 3KMs away from her father’s place.
In the society she lived in, girls her age were supposed to be married, have kids and be dedicated housewives, but that never bothered her.
Well, she had to quit work now that it was time to have her own family.
She was happily married to her man for what would be 24 years of her life soon. But her husband passed away only 6 days before their 21st marriage anniversary.
The man she believed she would spend the rest of her life with. A dream house, where they will grow old when both their daughter are married. Waking up with him, caring for him and his family was her whole life and now, everyday seems difficult, all of it feels like a burden.
It is impossible to live without someone you loved so deeply, isn’t it? It’s unimaginable and painful.
She knew how painful it is to grow without a parent and she never wanted that for her kids. But it happened and there was no turning back. At the age of 50, with work experience of 6 years and almost no knowledge of computers and the ways the work ethics and the teaching profession has changed over the past 21 years, she took up a course in primary school teaching.
She was rejected because she was ‘old’ and apparently that is the definition of how well you can perform at the job. She was told, “You are so old, you won’t be able to run around kids and make them study.”
She might have been old, but she had the most life experience than all of her interviewers combined.
She was asked about her past and wasn’t treated with respect and she was offered peanuts in the name of salary. But did she give up? NO!
She started working on her saari, her hair, her English, her personality in only 2 months she transformed her life.
“I have asked mom multiple times, that when we are earning, why do you have to work?”, says Riddhima. To this Mrs. Shrivastava would say, “I quit working after marriage, I shouldn’t have. Your father would always say, “You do so much for the family, you shouldn’t be working.” His love and his care made me feel so comfortable that I thought I was doing the right thing. But if I had known what future holds for me…”
“IF I BACK OUT AND QUIT TODAY BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE THINK, I AM NOT CAPABLE ENOUGH, HOW AM I AN EXAMPLE TO YOU, MY DAUGHTERS?”
“I WILL NOT BE DEMOTIVATED, I WILL COME HOME AND WORK UPON MYSELF. I WANT TO BE AN EXAMPLE TO YOU GIRLS THAT NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT LIFE GETS, YOU SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP.”
An answer about her was written on Quora, by Riddhima Shrivastava and this what it read.
16th May, 2014 I lost my father at the age of 18. My mother was a homemaker and now a widow and hardly did we know how to manage bread and butter for the house.
After Papa’s departure my elder sister did start working as a content writer but it was not sufficient for running a house with 3 members.
In July 2014, my Mom joined a teaching course to be eligible enough to teach the primary school kids. At the age of 50, she ran for her class regularly without skipping one day of her household work. Being elder to her teacher at the institute and facing those heads who constantly stared at her to know the reason of her joining the classes at this age, she never gave up.
With her firm determination and will she secured the 1st position in the class and bagged 5th rank in the state arena.
Now in 2016, she is teaching young minds and has 1+ years experience and is also giving tuition classes to nearby kids.
She is making a delicious lemonade of the lemons given by life.
There aren’t a lot of people in the world who can pick themselves up from nothing and I am so glad to know only one of them.
Mrs. Alpana Shrivastava, you are an inspiration and I am blessed to be your daughter.