As we start to celebrate women’s day with week long messages, I thought of dedicating a post to the women who have inspired me throughout, even if I realized their courage a little later than I should have.
I will begin with my Grandmother. She was widowed at an early age of 36-37. Had 7 children to look after, thankfully 3 of them were 15 and above. All 4 of them took the charge of looking after the family and yet not compromising on their education in the lean financial times. In the 60’s, insurance wasn’t an instrument used as much as it is today. So even though you have gathered a million worth of good will, it wont help you look after kids and keep your head high as a widow in a conservative Indian set up.
I admire the courage, confidence and valor with which my father and his siblings were raised. The struggles surely shaped the way they see life around them and paved way for us, their second gen to have a life of comfort and a peaceful childhood that focused on education and well being. All this definitely boils down to the undying spirit of my grandmother. I cannot fathom how she must have taken up the humongous task of raising 4 girls and 3 boys in a traditional world that was then. I wish I could realise her struggles much earlier and gave her the credit she deserved. All I could see was a mother in law to my mother. But that wasn’t the best lens for a woman of my grandmother’s stature. I wish I learnt some more from her, I wish my son played a little more with his great grand mother who loved him to the core.
I am happy that atleast I realized it sooner than later and it has changed the way I look at women who have gone through such similar struggle in their lives.
Next is my mother who has stood by my father like a rock and brought us up with her own share of struggles as a daughter in law, as a woman who had to sacrifice her career for the kids, as a woman who was the earning member of her own family but had to give it all up for the requirements of the new family. I wonder how she paved her way through all of this, knowing how talented and enterprising she is. She is also a human and has her moments of doubt but overall my mom has stood by us all and that’s a lot to ask for her, but we didn’t blink an eye ever as moms are always taken for granted, including me!
I think its this unflinching strength that has given me the strength to look after my son. We have no idea what all we draw from the atmosphere we grow up in. I have taken a lot from it all and tryin to do atleast that much for my son as he is discovering the good and bad of the world around him.
Then comes my neighbors. The ladies who worked in 80’s and 90’s were far and few, atleast in India. Yes, there were teachers, but lady doctors so few. And where I grew up, ladies were mostly looking after kids as there were very few opportunities for women. No internet, no work from home, fewer schools, fewer needs.
Even though I didn’t really realise back then that of the hundreds of aunties I knew, only a handful were doctors. less than 10 out of the hundreds! When I look back, I see that they were way ahead of their times. Standing by their choice of profession, keeping kids waiting a little and not minding it – world was way safer too – and reaching the pinnacle of their career, retiring as directors in their organization. I didn’t have to go far to look for ideals. And their kids are as smart and confident as you can ask for.
Then came my own circle of friends. The girl friends who inspire you, support you and challenge you. I have been lucky to have a solid group of girl friends right from school days. We studied together and achieved the best of results in school. We all went in different directions with higher studies and yet stayed in touch with letters and phone calls. The encouragement that came with those letters, the sense of belonging was a comfort zone I longed for in a new territory as a freshman. Soon we all made our new circle of friends who added new dimensions to life.
I am so grateful to these friends who are few but they are my rocks! They make me stand up when I fall, and best is they don’t let me fall much. With a tendency to go into victim mode time and again, friends like mine are sent by God! They have managed to bring me to a point where I can stand on my own when I recall their words of wisdom. After a point in life, parents cannot be bothered with every problem and friends adopt you.
And every one comes with their own share of struggle. Life isn’t a bed of roses, I learnt it very late. Somehow I thought I could create my own life with more love and less struggle. But I guess, struggle teaches you what happiness and peace cannot. I truly value the good times now, something I might have taken for granted as I grew up. Probably.
So hats off to my girl friends for being so strong and rock solid. You are the reason I am going ahead in life now.
And then, there are women all around who have gone through typical gender biases that I thought will be ruled out as I grew up. As a kid I used to abhor the comments that made me look useful to my house only because I was a girl. I used to tell my mom, I am not doing chores because I am a girl. I am doing these because I am your child. That’s the end of it.
Well, I ended up marrying into a very traditional mindset family. they didn’t look so when I chose them. Having gone through my share of challenges I have realized that my growth and happiness lies in my own courage to step up and make a life for myself. Only I can make it better for me, with the courageous women by my side. The first thing I think of in a difficult situation is, what will my friend say for this. Am I allowed to waste my time on a thought from the bygone years? If its a no, I move on. Its so empowering.
I cannot thank my friends enough.
If you ask who are the real ideals in my life, these women are. Rest is a little tangential!
Happy Women’s Day in advance! Acknowledge the women in your life, their sorrows and their achievements alike. This is what a woman wants, IMO!