Like many of the Tamil women in her generation, she didn't have the means or support to accomplish such a grand vision. Instead, my mother instilled this passion in her two daughters and has supported us in realizing this dream over the past 10+ years. Rather than envying us for being able to live out the dream and life that she has always wanted, she encourages us to take every opportunity we get to go somewhere and explore places unfamiliar to us. Although I have been away from home for quite some time now, my mother's selflessness and encouragement have enabled me to see and experience more than 25 countries across the globe so far.
Upon doing some deep self-reflecting however, I realized that it was time to give back to my mom; give her experiences more meaningful than the usual materialistic/monetary gifts that I offer her. Why was it too late for her to fulfill her vision? Is it because she had decided to get married, have children, and care for her family? Did the sacrifices she once made have to be life-long ones? Or, from a social/cultural perspective, was it a silly notion for a woman of her age to have such a goal? I wanted to do something to ensure that the answer to these questions was going to be a “no” for my mom.
I decided that I would take her to a continent that she and I have never been to, and explore a country that we know very little about—South Africa. My plan was to cover as much ground as we could in three short weeks, while also keeping our trip as authentic as possible. In other words, I did not want to take the easy route and simply ask a tour company to plan and organize the trip for us. I, alternatively, wanted to backpack and bus our way across the country, starting in Johannesburg and making our way down to Cape Town. To be truthful, I was a little nervous about whether my mom would be able to handle such a strenuous journey in her current health condition and age. I also, however, knew that the strong-willed spirit in her would be determined to handle anything thrown her way.
I knew this trip would be a life-changing experience for the both of us, but what it ended up being surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. We were embarking on a journey that involved many firsts, making it that much more special. We were in a beautiful place we'd never thought we would be in, and together, for that matter. For my mom, almost everything we did on the trip was a first! Watching her use her binoculars to eagerly spot wild animals during our safari (ones that she would otherwise only see on her favourite "Discovery" channel) was extremely heartwarming for me. Seeing her smile ear to ear when she finally got to fulfill her dream of riding horses and interacting with them, was so special. For me, it almost felt like what a parent might feel when their child lights up at something they’re seeing or doing for the first time.
I'm so incredibly proud of her for being so awesome about everything I put her up to: camping in the wilderness, going on long hikes, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, packing up and moving to a new place every 2 days, 10-12 hour long bus rides, using her minimal English to converse and hang out with the younger travelers we were surrounded by, and letting everyone adopt her as their "mama" on the trip.
I was already her biggest fan to begin with, but this experience has given me a whole new level of respect and honour for her. I can only hope to be as strong, bold, and selfless of a woman as she is… one who is not afraid to step outside of social/cultural norms, when it’s not harming anyone else. Even if this trip only gave to her a glimpse of the unknown world she yearns to see, it proves to her that regardless of her age, health, and role in the family, her dream is not lost and unattainable.
To her, and all the mothers across the globe, I will be forever grateful for the sacrifices that are made in the interest of family, especially when those sacrifices end up being lifelong dreams. Let's be a generation that lifts these women up and prove to them that their dreams, visions, and goals are still very real and very possible!
Click play below to view a quick glimpse of our trip :)
Check out @sindu_path on Instagram for more on her travel adventures!