TODAY -

A Mother's inspiration: Finding light in the darkness through my daughter's eye

Dr Soma Roy Acharjee *



The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges and hardships to families around the world. Like many, my family faced its own ordeal too, during these tumultuous times. As the world grappled with uncertainty and fear sleep became elusive, slipping through my fingers like sand.

Night after night, I tossed and turned, my mind consumed by worries and fears. The weight of the world seemed to rest heavily on my shoulders as I fought with my husband’s health, which robbed me of the rest I so desperately needed.

It was a seemingly ordinary evening post the chaos of Covid as my family cherished the steaming cup of tea on the balcony. Though life returned to the known track, sleep still remained a luxury I could scarcely afford ! It is then that my daughter, a dedicated and compassionate doctor in the making, uttered words that would forever alter the trajectory of my life.

As we sat together, basking in the warmth of familial bonds, she looked at me with unwavering determination and said, “Mom; Dad is a doctorate, I would soon be a doctor. Instead of letting your sleepless nights weigh you down, why not use them to pursue your dreams. Why don’t you pursue your PhD and get a Dr. prefixed?”

Her words, though simple in their delivery, resona- ted deeply within me, igniting a spark of inspiration that had long laid dormant amidst the chaos of life’s responsibilities. The dream of obtaining a PhD lingered in the recesses of my mind ! Unlike many of my peers who pursued advanced degrees in their youth, my path was marked by detours, primarily driven by the weight of family responsibilities.

As a spouse and parent at a very early age, my focus was unwaveringly fixed on nurturing and supporting my loved ones, often at the expense of my own aspirations. Embarking on a journey of higher education later in life can be both daunting and exhilarating. For many, the idea of pursuing a PhD at this age may seem unconventional, even improbable.

However, in that moment of my daughter’s persuasion, I realised that my journey to academia was not merely a solitary pursuit of knowledge but a legacy to be passed down through generations—a testament to the power of education and the boundless potential that lies within each of us.

With my daughter’s unwavering support, I took the leap of faith and enrolled in a PhD program. Armed with a new found purpose, I embarked on my journey, using the quiet hours of the night to immerse myself in research and study. As the world slept, I delved into the depths of academia, finding solace and meaning in the pursuit of knowledge.

For years that followed, my nights in the dimly lit room, surrounded by towering stacks of books and endless pages of research notes, I sat, a beacon of determination amidst the chaos of life’s responsibilities.

There I stood at 44, with a lifetime of obligations and commitments and embarked on a journey that would test my resolve, challenge my capabilities, and ultimately redefine my understanding of perseverance: the pursuit of a PhD.

Despite the whispers of doubt and the chorus of naysayers questioning the feasibility of pursuing such a lofty goal at my age, I made a conscious decision to defy the odds and embark on this academic odyssey. The road ahead was fraught with challenges, each obstacle serving as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Balancing the demands of course work, research, and dissertation writing with the responsibilities of a full-time job and familiar obligations was a delicate dance, requiring meticulous planning and unwavering dedication.

The journey ahead was filled with challenges, requiring me to adapt to new learning methodologies and academic rigour. Late nights spent poring over textbooks and early mornings devoted to scholarly pursuits became the norm, as I navigated the intricate labyrinth of academia with unwavering resolve.

As I progressed through my PhD journey, I encountered moments of self-doubt and fatigue. Yet, amidst the chaos and uncertainty, there were moments of triumph that served as beacons of hope, guiding me forward on my journey.

The exhilaration of presenting ground breaking research at academic conferences, the satisfaction of seeing my ideas come to fruition in published papers, and the profound sense of accomplishment that accompanied each milestone achieved served as fuel for my ambition, propelling me ever closer to my ultimate goal.

As I embarked on this academic odyssey and now reflect on my journey, I am filled with a sense of profound gratitude for the firm support of my loved ones, whose encouragement and belief in me never faltered, even in the darkest of moments. Throughout the ups and downs of my academic pursuit, the support of my family, friends, and mentors proved invaluable.

My husband, parents, and mother-in-law, bhaiya, bestie provided unfaltering encouragement, while my mentors offered guidance and expertise. However, it was my daughter’s unwavering belief in my abilities that served as a beacon of hope, guiding me forward on a path that I had long considered impassable, that sustained me through the toughest moments, reminding me of the importance of familial support in achieving one’s dreams.

11th March 2024, as I stood in the precipice of final defence, poised to receive my PhD, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride. My journey, though arduous and fraught with challenges, has been nothing short of transformative, reshaping my understanding of what is possible in the face of adversity.

My journey in the last four years to achieving a PhD at the age of 48 is more than a mere academic achievement; it is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unwavering faith in oneself. My daughter’s simple yet profound words— “You should pursue your PhD”—helped me take the leap of faith, inspiring me to reach for the stars and pursue mydreams with unflinching determination.

It serves as a reminder that no dream is ever out of reach, no matter the obstacles that may stand in our way. As I embark on the next chapter of my life, armed with the knowledge, skills, and resilience forged through years of perseverance, I am filled with a sense of boundless possibility. And for that, I am eternally grateful.


* Dr Soma Roy Acharjee wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 15 2024.



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