When I was young and hated to go to school, my mother would always tell me that one day I would find ‘education’ was the only thing that could liberate me in life. Whenever she made me sit and do my homework or study for my exams, she would keep chanting, ‘This is going to be your ticket to a different life. You don’t want one like mine. You’ll see… you will be free and then you will thank me for putting you through this.’ At first I was too young to understand what she meant. Then I was a rebelling teenager to whom her mother was the ‘bad guy’ in real life and I did not have a moment to understand her motivations. Soon I was too wrapped up in my own life to give a second thought to what she meant and what she wanted for me. Today, I am turning 40. I have already lived through a big part of my life – I would like to think more than half. I have seen see a lot of places and people. I have had my share of ups and downs of life and I have gathered a lot of experience. Experience of learning from my mistakes and triumphs and also from the mistakes of those around me. Today, I am turning 40. I am married to a ‘very successful’ man; I am a mother of two most beautiful children and an efficient home maker. I had met my husband in college and have been together ever since. We had even done our Masters in Business Administration together, with same majors. We had the same ambition and the same drive. ‘We both want the same things from life,’ he had said. ‘Nobody else can understand this need better. Why wait? Let’s get married and be together to support each other.’ We had eloped and gotten married straight out of the University. I remember our initial struggle. For the first five years we had worked hard to make the ends meet and build some sort of life for ourselves. We had finally reached a stage of stability in life, but our long hours had taken us away from each other. We hardly knew the person we had become and knew even less about the other. Things changed again when I got pregnant and found out that we were going to have twins. We started working harder and even longer hours. In the fifth month of my pregnancy, he said, “Why don’t you take a break from your job? The job, home and now the twins. It is too much stress. I am going to call your mother to come stay with us and you quit your job. Just sit back and relax. You need to think about your health and you have to think about the health of the babies as well. All this stress cannot be good for them. You can always get back to work later.” So I quit my job. Since then my life has changed completely. Every mother likes to think that their child is the best and most beautiful thing on this earth. I do so too. But I do not mean their physical appearance; they have the best from both of us and while we are both average looking, our children are beautiful. But I actually meant about their personality, their nature and their temperament. They hardly ever fuss or fight. They are very adaptable and most sensitive about their surroundings… They know the importance of a good education and excel in their classes. My son enjoys playing the guitar while my daughter loves to sing. I revel in their talents. Personally my life has become very monotonous and predictable. My mornings start with the rush of school & office. The day passes on with washing & cleaning. Evenings are busy with homework and preparation of dinner. My husband usually arrives at the nick of time for dinner. After a family dinner and discussion of each person’s highlight of the day, the kitchen beckons me for one last clean down. By the time I am done cleaning, checking on the kids and a shower to wash off the day’s exhaustion, I find my husband snoring slightly on his side of the bed. Today as I turn 40, I look back over my shoulders to the days that have gone by. I see all the forks in my life where my decisions took me towards one and away from the other. I can see all the failures and I can see all my triumphs. I can see how, when and where the priorities in my life had changed. I can see what I had wanted to be and what I had become. I finally realized what I always wanted to be like – everything that my mother was not; a practical career woman who was totally independent. I can see what I had become – everything that she was; a sentimental and emotional housewife whose whole world revolved around her husband and children. Today as I turn 40, I find myself looking back at the little girl whose mother kept telling her that education would bring her freedom. I finally have the time and maturity to understand her motivations. So I ask myself, am I anymore free than she was? Do I have a ‘different life’?