Often we watch heroes on the celluloid who flex a muscle and smash the villain, and we go gaga. But, what are real heroes made of? Is it just about the looks, muscles, suave and macho appeal? No, real heroes are beyond that. They are men of iron who have the grit and the guts to stand up for the right. One such hero I have admired since childhood is my father. And the admiration doesn't come by being his daughter; it’s his courage that makes me bow.
My parents were born in a society where women were considered nothing more than cattle – they were suppressed, exploited and kept confined to the kitchen. Boys however, were encouraged to study and work. Born in a family with modest means, Pa had to work hard to get his share of education. At 20, he set off to the then secluded Andaman & Nicobar Islands on his first job posting. But the bug of enhancing his learning kept biting him.
He had seen his mother suffering in life due to lack of education & had promised himself he would take it upon himself to ensure no woman in his life remain uneducated. He strongly believes when u educate a woman, u uplift the entire family. He had 2 sisters and as per the norms, they were to be married off before their age crossed the adult mark. Pa stood up for them, argued with his parents to let them finish their education. It was tough to convince people of the elderly generation, and Pa took up the responsibility of their studies, channelizing his earnings to fund their education.
After my parents got married, Pa realized how my mother had been forced to leave her studies mid way for the marriage. While he too, like other men of the family could have ignored her aspirations, he promised her he would not let her dreams of education die. Having faced the music for his sisters’ education, he knew it would be a herculean task to convince the elders. It was a taboo to have a daughter in law show her face outside the veil, her studying after marriage would have raised eyebrows. But Pa had already made up his mind. He told his parents about his decision and when they showed immense resistance, he just had one answer, “education is a fundamental right, and I know by doing is I am doing what is right.” He promised his parents he and mom wouldn't let this affect neither the honor of the family nor their household responsibilities.
It was although a tough schedule for mom (I have blogged about it previously here), she was glad as she had her husband standing like a rock by her side, doing everything to ensure her dream of learning was fulfilled. With Pa’s support, mom not only got to continue her studies, she even did her Masters, which was a rare thing for girls in those days and went on to do her medical practice.
Today, Pa has ensured that all the women in our family are educated and independent. His spirit of encouraging education has extended beyond home, and I know several instances where he has single handed convinced parents to educate their daughters, often helping with the education expenses. He could have followed the trend of his times and taken a chill pill, but he decided to be the change he wanted to see around him. That’s what heroes are made of. I know words are not enough to thank you, but for the empowerment you have given us and for the change agent that you are, I salute you my soldier!
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