By: Saloni Bhatnagar
From: Almere Stad, Netherlands
“Sweetheart, you should lie down for some time and rest”, Richard said. Maria and Richard had been married for 5 years now, which was against all the odds, for he was almost 10 years younger than her. Even Maria never thought it was possible at first yet there he was, helping her in every way. While Maria lay in bed, she couldn’t help but think of her life so far.
Maria left her parents’ house when she was just 17 and pregnant. She left with the guy she thought she loved and would spend the rest of her life with. All she took from her parents’ house was her old sewing machine which was a gift from her aunt on her 16th birthday. Maria had big dreams of living with her man, raising her children in a family which thrived on love. But then life happened. The guy left her as soon as their twins, a boy and a girl, were born. He didn’t even care to take her back home from the hospital. She was left all alone.
Maria remembered how she cried every time the twins cried, remembered all the pain she felt, most of which was emotional. The sleepless nights and the incessant cries. How she had nothing but one little studio apartment, a mattress, a table on which sat the sewing machine and a chair. How she ate nothing but sugar many nights, so as to be able to breastfeed her children. Maria could have left her kids and gone, could have just taken her own life, these ideas actually seemed better to her in those difficult times, but she survived. One look at her children made her strong to bear it all.
She thought about all the times she had to walk alone with two little lives depending solely on her. How that made her feel so responsible at an age of 18 years. She was in a bad place mentally but her call of duty – Motherhood, kept her going. She decided to reach out to friends and family for help. She just needed to ask and she did.
She remembered how a few of her friends helped her in taking care of the babies while she went out to look for work which was difficult to find and given her qualifications she could at best, become one of the housekeeping staff in a hotel. Maria’s friends and family helped her thrive for the first year of giving birth. She was glad that her family came around for her. She was so lucky to have friends & family who helped her.
She reminisced how before she had the kids, she was stitching her own wedding gown with the hope of getting married to their father some day. She had created a beautiful pattern of flying doves on the fabric and embroidered the torso of the dress with white silk thread. She had made a beautiful veil.
Maria thought about all the things that made her strong and tough. She had taken a loan from her cousin to buy white fabric and needles and thread, to be able to stitch a wedding gown for her neighbor, who loved what she had done for her own unused wedding dress. Maria needed all the help and all the money she could get, for she had 3 stomachs to feed. She worked relentlessly. She sold her wedding dresses to big brands, to small brands, to big boutiques, to small boutiques, to individual customers and once, she had just displayed all her designs in front of her apartment building.
All the hard-work had made her learn so much. She worked day and night, made one wedding dress after another and in between made sure her kids have the mother they deserved. She played with them, fed them, schooled them and did everything for them. She didn’t have the time to even look at herself. She didn’t even have the time to stop and feel the presence of a man missing in her life. She never thought about whom she is going to grow old with.
But, slowly her business grew, people started noticing her brilliance. They started noticing how she pours her heart out for each dress. Her wedding dresses were a huge hit. The word of mouth spread across the town, the city, the state and across the country. Orders started pouring in from all corners of the country. And soon, she got investors, partners and workers. After 16 years of persistence and relentless work, She now had a business which she called “Magic Happens”.
Years passed by, Maria had no time to think about herself for she had 3 children now – The twins and her business. By the time Maria’s kids left for college, Maria had many boutiques in all the states and one even in Milan, Italy. Magic Happens became super successful. She worked and she worked to make her business one of the most profitable in the garment industry. She worked continuously for 30 years. But now, she had time to relax, she had time to look at herself and she had time to think about loneliness, to think about the company of a man and to fall in love again, give it a second chance.
Pretty soon, lady luck smiled again, for Maria had deserved it and had paid all her dues. She met this handsome young lad – Richard, at a Business School, where she gave a lecture on entrepreneurship. She remembered how she felt like a 16 year old with him. How they both had so much to talk about and how beautiful their courtship was. Not once did she think about their age difference. But then one fine day, he asked her to marry him. At first, Maria was skeptical. She thought of her fragility, frailty, all her weaknesses – age being number 1. She said “No” but Richard had made up his mind. He loved her, he loved her passion and he loved the gentle soul within her which was ageless. Ultimately, Maria had to give in. She said “Yes”.
Ohh boy, what a day it was. Maria took out the old unused wedding dress she preserved for almost 40 years. She made a few changes to the dress, for her body had changed. She stitched one more time and this time it was for her own wedding. She looked like an angel and Richard cried looking at her in her veil and wedding dress. Maria’s twins were there beaming with joy to support their mother. It was a fairytale wedding and it was a fairytale marriage for both of them. They both were so much in love; they traveled the world together. Each day they lived like it was their last and made the most of it, hand in hand. Not once in their 5 years of married life did they forget to kiss each other good night. Maria thanked her life, for how it unfolded, and gave her Richard. She had finally experienced love. It was not too late for her.
“Its time to wake up honey, have your dinner and then sleep”, said Richard. Maria opened her eyes, took Richard’s hands and planted a kiss on them. And then she slept, never to wake up again.
By: Saloni Bhatnagar.
Almere Stad, Netherlands
Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), International Business | KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research2012 – 2014
Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.), Mechanical & Automation | Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology 2005 – 2009
Mobility Business Consultant | Athlon Car Lease August 2016 – June 2018 Junior Consultant | Acterus b.v September 2015 – June 2016 Oracle Pre Sales Consultant | Wipro Ltd June 2014 – April 2015
Systems Analyst | Tata Consultancy Services February 2010 – May 2012
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.