CHENNAI: Kanakangi, sociable and friendly, is a tailor by day and a grandmother of two by evening. She is the proud mother of two successful daughters. She owes that pride to none but herself. As she busily goes about micro-managing dozens of chores around the house along with her own job, Kanakangi catches a breath to recount her long years of toil.
“We struggled from the start — my daughters and I. My marriage failed and money was scarce, but I kept their careers as my main focus and drive; not their marriage,” she adds. She has managed to raise her children despite the many financial hurdles of a middle-class Indian. But even when there is financial respite, there is still a lot of stigma attached to this title of single mom that one might need to don bravely.
“It is one problem after another, to be a single mother in our country. Almost 90 per cent of them face settlement issue and the cases drag on for long. The affected mothers have almost no choice, but to double up and perform both roles for their children in most cases,” says Asif Basha, an advocate at the Madras High Court. “And if the process does go smoothly, there is still the issue of them receiving inappropriate advances from men, which happens more than we know,” he adds. Gayathri Suresh a mental health postgraduate at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, says, “Single moms definitely shoulder more responsibilities and criticisms on their shoulders. It is important to remember no woman leaves her husband or decides to stay a single parent at the drop of a hat, especially when kids are concerned. It is a well thought-out decision. But instead of supporting them in their efforts, people end up name-calling them and giving them labels. Support is everything.” Kanakangi seems to agree completely. “I am lucky I had plenty of support from my family. Life is good now,” she adds quite cheerfully, as she waits for her granddaughter to return from school.