She is just an ordinary girl next door. But 26-year-old Siddhi Thanden’s life has been an incredible journey riddled with unimaginable challenges after she lost her parents. Despite all the odds that tested her strength and resilience, Siddhi Thanden emerged as a shining example of hope and perseverance. Siddhi refused to let her circumstances drown her in depression and transformed her life through sheer grit and determination.
Now working as a teacher in GEMS School in UAE, Siddhi says that no matter how difficult life may seem, there is always a way forward. “We should remain focused and never give up hope. I fully believed in God even when I was going through the toughest phase in my life. I knew that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. I got tremendous support from a lot of well-wishers who were sent by God for my support,” Siddhi told “Open Digest”.
Though Siddhi’s parents Suresh Thanden and Anita Thanden hailed from Kerala, she was born and brought up in Mumbai where her parents were settled for years. Siddhi’s childhood life wasn’t that easy as her father, an alcoholic, used to come home drunk and create a lot of trouble for the family every day. Finally, unable to bear any more torture, her mother walked out of the life of Suresh Thanden taking along Siddhi and her elder brother Shreyas Thanden with her.
“We moved to our grandmother’s home in Mumbai. Our grandmother Ammini Vijayan Panicker, who was a retired government servant, strongly stood with us and extended all support. If it was not for her support, our life would have been in shambles. I owe much to my grandmother, my uncle Ajith Panicker and aunt Rakendu Panicker, who have been with us right through our life supporting us. My grandmother paid for my whole education from her pension” Siddhi said. After plus two, Siddhi along with her mom, grandmother and brother, moved to Ambalapuzha in Kerala where her grandmother had an ancestral house.
Finally, when life was all going well for Siddhi who joined for graduation at Sree Narayana Guru College of Advanced Studies in Cherthala and her mother finding a job in Aluva, tragedy struck Siddhi when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “I lost all hope and felt like the world just ended for me. My mother’s family stood with us during that crisis period and helped us a lot. My mother had to undergo surgery and therapy as part of the treatment,” Siddhi said, adding that the treatment pushed the family into a severe financial crisis as the grandmother had to spend all her money for the mother’s treatment.
“There was even a time when my classmates had to pool in money to pay my semester fees. My teachers and friends stood with me in hours of my crisis. They extended all sorts of support which they can and I am indebted to them. I was really blessed to have teachers like Mr Ramachandran Nair (Ramu Sir), Ms Thara J Sharma and Mr Devdas to help me during my hard times,” Siddhi said.
Meanwhile, her father succumbed to liver cirhosis and hepatitis at a hospital where he was undergoing treatment for days. After father’s death, Siddhi along with her mother returned to Mumbai. Siddhi became the primary caregiver for her mother whose health condition deteriorated after the cancer spread to bones and finally to the brain. She took on the responsibilities of managing the household finances working as a teacher in NES International School in Dombivli and attending to her weekend classes for BEd course.
Despite the overwhelming challenges, Siddhi remained determined to take care of her mother who was undergoing extensive medical treatment. “My seniors at NES school were really helpful. They used to allow me to leave early and adjust my work time enabling me to take care of my ailing mother. Even my friends and my brother’s friends helped us in many ways,” she said.
Even while Siddhi was facing all the odds with bravery, her journey was not without its emotional toll. She often felt overwhelmed and alone, struggling to balance her responsibilities as a caregiver and worker. “My job as a teacher helped me overcome my loneliness and depression. I used to have panic attacks at times. But seeing my children at school, I used to feel very calm and happy,” Siddhi said adding that she is so grateful to Mrs Indulekha Nair (Indu aunty whom she fondly calls) and Mr Rajendran Nair in Mumbai who treated her as their own daughter and took care of her during the hardest times.
Siddhi really felt lost when her mother’s condition worsened and she fell into a terminally unconscious state. “I was with my mother during her last days. Though she lost her memory due to the disease, she could only remember me. At the ICU bed, she really blessed me and told me that it was time for her to leave,” she said adding that her mother could somehow realise that her time was up. “Hours before her death, she made me do a video call to my brother who was in UAE to say good bye to him,” Siddhi recalled.
When doctors finally came and told that her mother had left, Siddhi could feel a vacuum, a hollowness, in her life for the first time. For all her life, her mother was there for her as a strong pillar. “I still believe that my mother has gone into a deep sleep peacefully. She has been there for me all my life and will remain so,” Siddhi said, adding that it was after her mother’s demise, she applied for a job in GEMS School in UAE.
“By God’s grace I got the job and I am happy to be a teacher spending time with my children. My brother is also in the UAE where he now works. My grandmother, my uncle and my aunt are there still for me. I interact with them every day over phone,” Siddhi says, adding that one should not feel disheartened even in the darkest of times as there is always hope for a brighter future.