Chiradeep: We have among us Mrs. Kalpana Vogeti, who is a mother of two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl. She has been married since August 2009. Right now she lives in Brussels, Belgium along with her family.
I know Kalpana only through WordPress community when I was searching for good articles and writers… It was in the month of May 2016 I stumbled upon her blog and approached her. She agreed right away to be part of Candles Online. Her first article, “Reinventing – Makeover of Inner self” itself revealed her beautiful heart when it was published on 1st June 2016. She is a great buddy. She is a homemaker and a very amicable personality. Initially, I thought she is a happy going and a lady without any struggles in life. But I was wrong when she revealed her struggles later. It’s my delight that I could finally interview her to let the world know about her struggles and how she keeps herself cool. It’s my privilege that she is the first author of Candles Online who will share her heart with the world.
So Kalpana, hello and welcome to ‘Face to Face with Chiradeep’… Are you ready for the interview?
Kalpana: Oh, sure… I am ready!
Chiradeep: Tell us, how old are you now?
Kalpana: I am 32 now.
Chiradeep: What profession are you into?
Kalpana: I am into a profession that requires lot of patience and endurance, I am a housewife.
Chiradeep: Wonderful! But what was the reason you chose this profession?
Kalpana: Well, it seems that this profession chose me. I know that’s a bad one. After marriage when I moved to Belgium, I was not legally allowed to work here and language being a big barrier I had no other choice. French still holds many secrets from me. And then family happened which is much more demanding than a 9 – 5 job. I had to stay back for the sake of my family, my kids.
Chiradeep: Hmm… I can see that you don’t like it to be at home all the time… Do you hate this fact that you had to stay back at home as a homemaker instead of going out and work?
Kalpana: Yes, a lot but eruption of emergency situations at kids’ school, sudden ill health, non-availability of bus etc., that require me to rush at the blink of an eyelid… That reassures me that there’s a reason behind everything.
Chiradeep: You are right. Everything happens for a purpose. We just have to accept what God has kept for us. What would you say if I ask, what’s your purpose in life?
Kalpana: That’s a tough question. I have few short term though they are taking too long time but yeah, goals like attaining the working woman tag for myself, being financially independent, if possible being recognised for my petty articles. I know that’s asking for too much. But I have two very specific purposes in life essentially – be a good mother to my kids, make them a better human and independent; do something good, give something to the society however small it may be. I want to be remembered in good books after I breathe my last.
Chiradeep: That’s incredible though your short term goals are still to be fulfilled yet I believe you will definitely attain then sooner or later.
You have been married since August 2009… Almost nine years… Was it a love marriage or arranged marriage?
Kalpana: Mine is an arranged marriage.
Chiradeep: Wow! Mine is an arranged marriage too. You have two beautiful kids… Tell me about them briefly.
Kalpana: My son Siddharth, is six and a half years old and daughter is 2 and a half years old. My son is specially-abled who thinks differently from this world, he is autistic. My daughter, Nandini, is like Abhimanyu (mythological character) who from womb heard that she has to take care of her brother. She is so young yet so understanding especially when it is about her brother. But don’t be under impression that I don’t have to face tantrums. When both of them are together the house is on fire.
Chiradeep: And that was the struggle you have among all which was hidden behind that smile of yours. I can’t really imagine how it is to have an autistic kid in the family. Help me to understand… How do you manage as a mother of an autistic child?
Kalpana: How I wish Autism come with a manual so that I can check that every time there’s a meltdown. Meltdowns are the toughest to manage. With non-verbal autism I guess it’s a notch higher because I don’t have a clue WHY? He would suddenly out of nowhere start crying, screaming, fretting, behave violently leaving me wondering why and how to pacify him. Sometimes he would grab my finger and would show at what he wants or utters petty words like biscuit, pizza, pasta, ice cream etc. That’s pretty easy. But then there are times when he is simply out of control and behave violently. At that time I exert pressure on him physically. I embrace him or have to pin him down and wait till he is back to normal. He is being a big guy (taller and heavier for his age) it requires me to put lot of energy. I don’t believe in exerting pressure via practices like spanking or caning in such situations as that’s something unintentional and doing so would have deep impact on his confidence towards me and otherwise. It’s not that I have never raised my hand on him but that’s when he is creating some mess and I have to be really, really, really pissed off and my treatment for both kids is same in such matters. But I can proudly say, you can give a better score when it comes to patience as I don’t get angry with him often.
Chiradeep: I understand what you mean and I can definitely feel that you are very patient in dealing with Siddharth. Please continue…
Kalpana: Yeahh…, as a mother to an autistic kid I have a fraction of fear always resting in my mind that he should not harm himself or others around him. And the saddest thing according to me as an addition to all the fiasco is that my son doesn’t sense danger. I am always on toes and have an eye on him when at home.
Chiradeep: Oh my!
Kalpana: I would like to add that Siddharth is a calm child showing signs of improvement when it comes to his day to day activities as well as one to one interactions. He never hurt anyone around him. He is mostly into himself. Even during his meltdowns he never reaches out with the intention of hurting anyone, it’s only when someone is in his vicinity and he is flapping his hands and kicking his legs they would get hurt. Being a mother I have to deal with it only to help him recuperate. I believe in loving him unconditionally because this is something he didn’t chose – Autism.
As he is growing up I know it would be more difficult for me to manage his meltdowns physically. I am already in talks with social services specialising in behavioural therapy for such kids. They would help him to develop interests other than surfing YouTube on tablet or bing on ice cream which we successfully limit it to one per week, enhancing concentration so that he is able to continue with his works without taking an exit in the middle… for the moment he can concentrate only for 5-10 minutes… and lastly, shaping his social integration.
I have a daunting and demanding task ahead. My only wish is to see him independent in every aspect in future so that after his parents are gone he can lead his life on his terms and successfully.
Chiradeep: How does Siddharth manage himself being an autistic child?
Kalpana: It seems he is slowly understanding his surroundings and people around him. He now seems to understand our frustrations on seeing him restless, that really melts me. He is now developing new interests like cooking and swimming. I am sure given a right direction he will find his feet.
Chiradeep: How about your daughter and her role in your family?
Kalpana: She is his ardent supporter and follower, loves him immensely. I would like to make a special mention about my daughter, Nandini here. She is always behind me trying to calm down, entertain, and reach out to her brother. Hopefully she stands by his side in every situation that life throws at him like a rock.
Chiradeep: That’s so good to hear about Nandini. How adorable that kid is… WOW! How supportive is your husband with all that you have around?
Kalpana: What bigger support I can ask for than him to believe me when I said “look we have a problem at hand, we have to handle”. He is always there pumping up my morale, he believes everything is perfectly normal and if it’s not so there could be a reason supporting that. For example when I feel low because of my unemployed status he says it’s good that you are not working, we are saving on tax (that’s pun intentional). He is really supportive, working and thinking 24*7about us, only us.
Chiradeep: What is the best thing you would like to tell about your hubby?
Kalpana: He is not someone who believes in speaking or shouting loud about his concern for his family but believes in actions. In these nine years I never had to think even once about a pending bill (never came to my notice) never heard a cross word when it comes about spending on various miscellaneous items like activities for Siddharth during vacations, funding my further education (we are planning to) no matter how expensive it might be. He places us everything before we could even think of asking them.
Chiradeep: You are blessed to have such a man as your husband and how he tried to fulfill all that his own family needs.
Kalpana! Tell me, what breaks you down at times and how do you manage it?
Kalpana: There are many factors that tend to break me from time to time, for instance my financial dependence, rejections from the recruiters. But I try to draw inspiration from lives of greats who never let failures or hardships break them, some prayer and deep introspection helps me to rejuvenate.
Chiradeep: So when you suffer discouragements, negative feelings affecting your mental states or you feel stressed out then what you do you do to bust your stress and negativities?
Kalpana: Sleeping makes me feel lighter and fresh… I sleep over everything and feel fresh after a good, long sleep.
Chiradeep: That’s a natural stress buster gifted to us by the Creator. Fantastic!
What are your weakness and strength? Briefly discuss about each if you are comfortable to share with us.
Kalpana: I guess trusting others easily is my biggest weakness. I am emotional to the core and that’s why I fail to look beyond emotions. That did cost me dearly many times.
My strengths! Hmm… I believe is my ability to accommodate in any situation. I am an easy going person who can squeeze through any situation. I am not rigid, that really helps when life is up for twists and turns.
Chiradeep: That’s a great way of looking at your strengths. So you are like water and can accommodate in any container and take the shape of the container. Lovely!
Kalpana, one thing really amazes me… and that’s your smile. You smile all the time though I haven’t met you in person but I have a feeling that you are never grumpy…
So my next question would be what is the secret behind your smile?
Kalpana: My selfies say I look good with that smile rather than a pout, sorry won’t boast and self proclaim. I believe in smiling from within.
Chiradeep: Hahaha! Lovely and witty…!!!
Before we end here, what would you like to tell your readers today to inspire them?
Kalpana: Success hasn’t adorned me yet so I can’t really inspire anyone but I would like to share an important message to everyone who are aspiring to reach great heights or who is already well settled there – Stay grounded, never ever forget your roots, success shall speak for you and it shouldn’t be the other way round. The only accessory to go well with knowledge and success is humility, be humble always.
Chiradeep: This is such a fantastic interview and I loved the way you answered all the questions Kalpana. God bless you and may He bless your amazing family especially the one who has been so specially abled – Siddharth.
Dear Readers! Mind it, Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. So Kalpana, being a mother of an autistic boy is doing a commendable job and she very well explained how difficult it is to manage the boy when he is growing bigger and stronger than her. She is such a valiant lady who taught us to be smiling all the time in every situation.