Whenever God sends an angel to this planet, he gives her limitless love which she can spread in this cruel world, compassion that makes her care and nurture many lives, wisdom that can light up the whole society & tolerance to take upon her the pain of others. God calls her a woman. But that’s not all, God also bestows her with strength that can turnaround the worst of situations. That makes her a woman of substance.
Mrs P came into this world in 1947 – a year that changed the fate of our nation. Being born in that special year, she too was a special one, who had to change the lives of many others.
But it wasn’t a bed of roses for Mrs P. Born eldest of six children in the family; responsibilities and sacrifice were always showered upon her. And she too, took them with a smile. While India had achieved freedom, the women of that time were yet to get their share of freedom. Education was a luxury that was allowed only if the household chores were complete. P was a bright kid, always topping the class & bringing pride to the parents, while her brothers struggled to pass. The parents were glad as everything was in order, though the mother often worried, how would she find a match for P if she got too educated beyond the norms of the society? But, the father gave P hopes that she would become a nurse one day.
And then, destiny played its tricky game. P’s mother one day asked her to help the neighbor with tea as some guests had come over. Poor P didn’t know this was a trick to arrange meeting with groom side for P’s marriage. Everything was fixed. P cried and begged her parents to let her continue studies, but nobody took mercy on her. Two months before her eighteenth birthday, she was married off.
P’s life changed as she came behind the veil (ghoongat). The ritual of reading was overnight replaced by household chores, taunts from her sister in law & never ending household politics. But P was a woman of substance, she didn’t give up. She convinced her husband & resumed her studies. Ahead of her class, she soon her completed her bachelors & masters, a big achievement in her times. P was going to be a mother now. She wanted the best for her child and when she got a call for a government job, she thanked the unborn child for the luck. But, destiny decided to play its tricks once more. So a night before the interview was scheduled, P delivered a baby girl.
While the glass was half empty, P always looked at the glass half full. So, rather than getting disheartened at losing out on the job, the mother inside was overjoyed with her prized possession. Years passed, three more little angels were born, 2 girls and a boy. With career ambitions taking a backseat, P’s ambition now was to inculcate the best in her children. She prioritized them over everything else, taught them her secret mantra of positivism and sacrificed her comforts and aspirations to make them comfortable. She taught her daughters to be independent & prove that women can achieve anything they want. P had no regrets about her own broken aspirations, for she saw her own win each time the kids achieved milestones.
The children grew up & went on to achieve their dreams. While P was a satisfied mother, the angel in her wanted to do something more, something beyond the periphery of her house, something for the society. She had often seen the poor fall prey to ailments, unable to afford a decent treatment. P’s husband had retired by now. Along with him she decided to benefit the poor by her knowledge of homeopathy. Her clinic started in the living room of her small house. Treatment & medicines were free for all, as P, a meticulous planner had invested a part of her savings for the cause. The swarm of patients outside her humble clinic increased exponentially, as the news of her magical touch spread like wildfire. Sometimes the patients dropped in at odd hours. The husband would suggest she ask them to come the next day during clinic timings. But P, with unlimited compassion inside, entertained any and every patient even at the odd hours. Just like God, nobody was denied help at her doorstep.
P’s life had come a full circle. God had rewarded her for her zeal and efforts. She had achieved something beyond the usual materialistic possessions – ultimate satisfaction, immense love from strangers, and above all, the ability to make a difference in the life of others. She had truly excelled as a woman of substance.
Mrs P, the woman of substance, was my mother.