At the outset, let me categorically qualify – this blog is not a spill-over from the “Women’s Day” jubilations. It’s just about how a person (it may be a man or a woman) could be bogged down from all sides and still chooses not to play the victim but makes the most of life.
I have a very good “bus” friend – we working women in India normally have a “train” friend, a “rickshaw-sharing” friend and where company buses ply (even in public buses) – a “bus” friend. Well, like I said before, I have a very good “bus” friend. She is maybe a good 12 to 15 years elder to me, but we still get along like a house on fire. It all rests on the fact that lively, smiling people make you loosen up and set the mood for the day. I like her, because she is unlike me – radiant and smiling always!! And I forgot she is quite “vocal”, giving her opinion like it is, without any misgivings – truth is what you get.
It is just this Monday – 21st March 2011 to be precise – that we were on our company bus and passing the Teen Hath Naka stop in Thane……..I think I have to attribute an alias to my “bus” friend, otherwise this narration is going to be difficult! Alright, here goes ……….. I am calling her Nimmi. She suddenly spotted another of her “bus” friends – Neha and I happened to remark that she looked elegant and poised in her sarees. Yes, this woman almost always wore sarees and she wore them well! The outfit added to her character and personality – that is what I thought and expressed it too.
I don’t know what it was that prompted Nimmi to share Neha’s circumstances with me. Neha was married, was part of a five-member family – college-going daughter, husband, father-in-law and until recently mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law had been bed-ridden for several years and recently expired. The father-in-law had gone blind following some medical complications. Neha was always a working woman and since years had managed house and career. Every morning she cooked for the entire family and left the house at 7.30 am sharp. At work also, she had a considerably responsible portfolio.
The husband and wife had bought a bigger house two years back. With lot of pride and hope, they moved into the new house with the family. Within days it was obvious to Neha that her blind father-in-law was not in a position to find his way about in the new house. Instead of inconveniencing the old man, she decided to move the entire family back to their old house and rent out the new one. Since the elders in the family are dependent on others due to medical reasons, husband, wife and daughter have very little opportunity to move out for holidays or outings. She does have brothers-in-law who do not want to take the responsibility of their own parents even for a couple of days. Still Neha has looked after them not only as a responsibility, but with love. The same values are instilled in the daughter, who misses her grandmother immensely. Neha enjoys cooking. In addition to her career responsibilities, she take orders for delicacies – not I suppose due to a dearth of money, but because she enjoys it.
After Nimmi narrated the above quite factually, the reason for her to do so occurred to me. Maybe it was to forewarn me lest I jump to conclusions that Neha came from a settled, no-problems background, based on her always elegant and poised persona. It was maybe to halt my thoughts and make me reflect. With strength of purpose and character, elegance followed. People’s aura shone with the strength with which they made life decisions. So the next time you see a face with lot of character, stop and consider that maybe, just maybe life has tested the person time and again!!
—— Gauri Kanyalkar ——-