Memory of My Absent Dad Pushed My Single Mother

Raised by her single mother, Sharda Sekaran reflects in a piece for Ebony.com on how her absent father's legacy of intelligence pushed her mother to push her.

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Raised by her single mother, Sharda Sekaran reflects in a piece for Ebony.com on how her absent father's legacy of intelligence pushed her mother to push her.

My mother has struggled throughout her life with an undiagnosed developmental disorder. She grew up in a 1950s working class Black family in Detroit. There was little information about why she had trouble learning to speak and was withdrawn from school. These days she would have had some form of early intervention but back then she was labeled "slow" and sent to unsympathetic evaluations that declared she was challenged with a yet undetermined inability to learn like other children.

Naturally, this issue impacted my mother's self image. Her pattern became seeking out "intelligent" men for validation. Enter my father. He was a graduate student from India in the process of getting a PhD in chemistry. He came from a high caste family of scholars and professionals. He allegedly started college at the age of 16. After he left us abruptly when I was a toddler and never looked back, my mother was determined, out of matronly love but also a certain level of vindication, that I would be smarter and more accomplished than him.

Read Sharda Sekaran's entire piece at Ebony.com

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