A Single Mother's Journey Is Marked By Solitude And Sacrifice... But It's Also Imbued With A Profound Sense Of Empowerment And Liberation

"Women of every colour and creed, in any corner of the world, are often made to bear the burden of blame and shame in the aftermath of divorce or loss."

Nandita Chakraborty

Draw Your Box was a media partner for the CALD Community Voices' “Single Mum's Journey: Strength and Grace” event held in Melbourne on Saturday May, 4. Nandita Chakraborty is a neurodivergent Indian Australian author and screenwriter who spoke at the event. Here is a transcript of her speech republished with permission.

When I reflect on my journey to Australia two decades ago, I can't help but recall the mix of excitement and uncertainty that filled me. Like many migrant women, I embarked on this new chapter with hope and anticipation, eager to see what opportunities awaited me in this foreign land. However, fate had its own plans, as my late father decided that all of his children should be together, sending my sister and brother to study alongside me.

Life in Australia initially felt smooth, with newfound freedom granting each of us the power of decision making. Yet, little did I know that this newfound independence would lead me down a path of tumultuous relationships and poor choices in pursuit of finding the elusive "right" man. The pressure to settle down loomed large, casting a shadow over my journey as I stood at the crossroads of life, grappling with the weight of societal expectations and personal desires.

As I navigated the complexities of love and relationships, I couldn't help but feel the generational weight of these struggles. In India, topics such as equal pay, dowry, and domestic violence were often shrouded in silence, relegated to the shadows of societal discourse. Yet even here in Australia, 25 years later, the fight for gender equality persists, with statistics revealing the stark reality that 1 in 4 women is a survivor or victim of domestic violence.

Amidst these societal challenges, I found myself subjected to the scrutiny of cultural expectations, perpetuated by the whispers of proverbial Aunties and Uncles questioning my adherence to the archetype of the "good girl." But what exactly is the definition of a "good girl"? I often pondered, feeling as though I was still trapped in the confines of a kindergarten classroom, seeking validation from random standards imposed by society.

Nandita Chakraborty

Nandita Chakraborty. Image Source: Supplied

When Niru asked me to speak about single motherhood, I found myself grappling with the difficulty of summarising such a deeply personal journey. Every woman's experience is inherently unique, shaped by a multitude of circumstances and choices that defy easy categorisation. Yet, amidst the diversity of our stories, there remains a common thread of resilience and strength.

Women of every colour and creed, in any corner of the world, are often made to bear the burden of blame and shame in the aftermath of divorce or loss. Victimised and witch-hunted, they find themselves ostracised by society, with even close friends turning cold in the face of adversity. Yet, despite the weight of newfound responsibilities and the heaviness of a heart burdened by grief, these women persevere.

Whether thrust into single motherhood by circumstance or choice, they bravely navigate the uncharted waters of parenthood alone, confronting each challenge with unwavering resolve. Their journey is marked by solitude and sacrifice, yet it is also imbued with a profound sense of empowerment and liberation.

As I reflect on my own journey, I am reminded of the countless women who have walked this path before me, each carving out their own unique legacy of strength and resilience. And though the road may be fraught with obstacles and uncertainty, I take solace in the knowledge that I am not alone. Together, we stand as a testament to the unbeatable spirit of womanhood, forging ahead with courage and grace, one step at a time.