We always talk about great women personalities from all walks of life who inspire us in different ways to keep going on and add meaning to our lives and our goals. However, for me, the list of women who inspire me is fairly different. These women have been either a part of my regular life, or have been around me and taught me a thing or two about life by their own example. These are my friends, neighbours, relatives, teachers and helpers. Mine is not an exhaustive list, but it’s definitely a comprehensive one!
Jiya, a single working parent: I know her as an acquaintance in my family, though I feel I know her a lot more than she says. She has an eight year old son whom she has been raising since the beginning without a father. How she ended up like that I have never inquired, but I do know that over the years my respect for her has only grown. She works as an art teacher, and not only balances her motherhood and profession beautifully, but also makes time for herself. She always seems happy and content, like she has no regrets or complaints. I learned from her how to be resilient.
My housemaid, Surekha: Though I am hardly ever satisfied with her cleanliness standards and cooking skills, as a person I am completely taken by her. She has a husband and two kids, a boy and a girl. And she works day and night to earn money so that she can send not just her son but also her daughter to school. She aims for her daughter to do well in life by providing for her education even if it means working longer hours and listening to her husband and in laws complain of her absence during the day. She has hardly anything to look forward to throughout the day, and I’m sure she falls asleep even before her head touches the floor. But she has sacrificed her comfort and well being for the future of her children, who may or may not be there for her when the time arises. I learned from her the real meaning of sacrifice.
My vegetable vendor, Kanu maushi: She loves to wear her beautiful nathni and her frangrant gajras even when no one is watching. She bargains better than an investment banker would, and collects her daily proceeds in a tidy knot of her pallu. I asked her where she kept her money after going home and she said that she puts three fourth of it as cash for use and one fourth of it in gold and lottery tickets. What would she do if she ever won a lottery, I asked her. And she said she would like to travel by plane with her family. I admire her optimism and her outlook towards life.
Sheena, my neighbor and entrepreneur: I know Sheena well as she gave me my first teaching break in a school in which she was a coordinator. She was one of the most efficient managers I knew, and always produced the required results. Then she left her job to start her own business, and it is flourishing, thanks to her talent and her competitive marketing skills. She is often regarded as too fierce and ambitious for a woman, but I am greatly inspired by her to break the socio-psychological and stereotypical barrier of how women should be, and come out as a success story for hundreds of other women.
All of these and more
My mother: She may be neither famous nor conventionally successful, but to me she is an embodiment of the various roles that women play in their lives. She is a confident optimist, yet a sacrificing hard worker. She is resilient towards the many challenges encountered in life, and always encourages me to face my problems and fears with confidence. She has instilled in me the importance of being independent and self-assured. I am proud of her, and most of all, inspired by her.
These are a few of the many women who live their lives with the same commitment and dedication that any famous or successful personalities do, and sometimes, even more than that. Let us acknowledge the women who do not show up on television screens, but are a part of the very same fabric of society that we dwell in, and show us by example how to lead an inspiring life!