The screen blinks. Three missed calls from Mom. “I’ll call her back later,” you think, not picking her call. You are busy at work, after all. And all Mom would have to do is fuss over whether you ate your lunch on time or not, on the phone. Right? No. Sometimes, the later does not come, ever.
Humans of Bombay, launched in January 2014 by Karishma Mehta to document the stories of people in Mumbai, recently uploaded a post about a girl. A cheerful teenager, smiling into the camera confidently. Her message to the world — Don’t push plans with your parents to tomorrow. The tomorrow might just not come.
In the Humans of Bombay post, the girl starts off by talking about her parents’ beautiful journey as soulmates, how they met each other, fell in love and realised they lived right next to each other! “And if they had plans to meet, my dad would whistle below her building”, she writes in the post. Her parents had an inter-caste marriage, breaking the barricades set by the society and fought all odds. The girl remembers the time when her dad had lost his job and he took care of her, while her mother supported the family.
Humans of Bombay is careful to not reveal the name of the teenager, whose moving words is nothing but pure inspiration and a prick on the guilt-conscience of many. The girls talks about how she lost her father at a really young age. She realised she had to be strong for her mother. “She would send him text messages for days after he was gone, she would talk about him continually and I don’t think there’s a day in the past 5 years that she didn’t speak about him,” she writes. They found strength and solace in each other, and spent all the time they could, together. During this time, the writer also faced difficulties at school, with girls who barely knew her, calling her a ‘slut’ just because her only friends were a group of guys.
Understanding her daughter’s love for photography and travel perhaps, the mother had even gifted her a DSLR and a beautiful scooty. The teenager believes the gifts were subtle hints that her mother wanted her to travel and click more pictures. Recently, she lost her mother, also “her best friend, strongest support” in a road accident and the brave teen was left to battle the world’s ways and many hardships, all on her own.
The message that she wants to tell through the post is very simple — Don’t push plans with your parents to tomorrow. Don’t bring down people, rather show them compassion. — something that you might have heard before, often. Yet, the post is so moving, it catches you off-guard. No wonder in less than a fortnight, it has been shared over 8,000 times and liked by close to 60,000 readers.
Here’s the full text of her post:
“My parents were soulmates. They first met when my father worked at a grocery store and my mom and her friend went there to buy something. He wrote her a love letter and the next time she went to his store, he gave it to her and she agreed to go out with him. Turns out, they used to even live opposite each other, and if they had plans to meet, my dad would whistle below her building. They would communicate with each other through their windows and when dad used to go to work, my mom would run to the PCO during his lunch break to call him. They had an intercaste marriage, fighting all odds and in every sense they complimented each other. When dad lost his job at one point, mom supported us and dad took care of me… they were always balancing each other out.
Dad had been a smoker for 30 years, he tried to quit many times but whenever he did it made his health worse. When he passed away, I was numb…I couldn’t even cry because it was so hard to believe that he wasn’t with us anymore, but I had to be strong for my mom. It was like a part of her had passed with him and to live without him initially was terribly hard for her. She would send him text messages for days after he was gone, she would talk about him continually and I don’t think there’s a day in the past 5 years that she didn’t speak about him. Eventually, she became stronger and the two of us would spend all our free time together. She worked hard and gave me everything…I don’t think I could have asked for a better mother. Through this time, I was going through a bad phase at school. My only friends were a group of boys, because they didn’t gossip, and the other girls at school called me a ‘slut’ without even knowing me. I have never hurled those profanities at anyone because I know best that you never know what others are going through. I began to channelize my energy towards photography, something that helped me emote and express myself.
But most of my focus was on my mom and we began travelling a lot, just the two of us and she even gifted me this scooty on my 17th birthday!
On one occasion, we were on the highway to Indore, travelling together as always when we met with a car accident. I was in the back seat of the car fast asleep and before I knew what was happening I woke up with a start and saw blood all over me…all around me. It wasn’t mine. My mother had sustained a severe head injury, and even though we were all out on the road asking for help— not one car stopped for us. After a lot of time when one car stopped, half the people got off and took my mother to the hospital. She had multiple fractures and a head injury but she didn’t make it. I lost her on Mahashivratri, six months ago…and all of a sudden, at 18 I found myself alone. I can’t describe the pain of losing her – my best friend, my strongest support.
I moved in with nani and realised that there were responsibilities waiting for me — bringing groceries, managing finances, taking care of nani and understanding the value of money. It’s difficult, but I can’t lose hope. Mom bought me a DSLR on my 16th birthday and this bike on my 17th and I believe it was a subtle message that I should travel and photograph to live my dream…our dream.
I wish my story conveys two strong messages — first- don’t push plans with your parents to ‘tomorrow’ — sometime that tomorrow doesn’t come; everyone’s time here is limited and second– don’t bring down people you know nothing about– everyone is going through something, so before calling someone names or tearing their character apart, think about this and show some compassion.”