“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. ” – Marie Claire
Inspiration can be found in many places, in many different ways. One way to be inspired is by connecting with others, reading about their work, learning from them and hearing about their stories.
There are countless women who have inspired me in one way or another and have been my role models for the life ahead of me. They have their own beautiful stories.
Today, I’d like to share an inspirational story about a woman I met last year (2015) through a friend of mine .My friend Runal’s mother, Mrs.Hemalatha. She is an ardent inspiration to all the women of her generation, as well as ours. A dynamic & open-minded mother, a loving and faithful wife, a daughter any parent would be proud of, a sister who always protects her family, a friend you could ever rely upon and a well respected colleague and someone her peers look up to.
Coming from a traditional & orthodox South Indian family isn’t always the right kind of platform for those of us who would like to see the world from a different perspective, an uncharted territory for many women. Imagine a life that does not involve the lady of the house being confined to the kitchen or to take care of the household chores & the family alone. And this isn’t 2015 that we are talking about, but this goes way long back, way back to the 1980s in fact. Born to a pretty successful and wealthy family, trying to grasp the fact that their daughter wanted to work and be independent was nothing but a rude awakening to the family, a huge culture shock. This wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support of her mother who was the true inspiration in this life changing decision of this women we are going to read about today. They say, mother’s truly influence how their children will grow up to be, this story is an embodiment of what good parenting can do to change a generation of women to come, to have the confidence to stand on their own feet, be self sufficient, independent and manage both professional and family roles with great aplomb.
The hardest step, was to enrol and appear for the entrance exam as a JE (Junior Engineer) after successfully completing her B.Sc. She always wanted to be an independent woman, in times where women going to school was frowned upon by the majority of the population. She worked relentlessly to crack the entrance exam, not worrying if her family would allow her to take the job. She had decided that once she had cracked the entrance exam, she’d then worry about convincing her family. What she really wanted to know was, was she GOOD ENOUGH to get a chance to achieve her dreams?
For women like her in India, the first battle is not really on how to be as good as the men if not better than them at work, but mostly the biggest challenge they face is back at home, to be able to convince their families. Seldom do people manage to convince their families to allow them to pursue their goals. And that is one of the qualities I’ve come to admire the most about her.
I also wasn’t surprised that the same woman I’ve so come to admire, also decided to wait for 10 years to convince her family to allow her to marry the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with and was successful at that too. In today’s times, where in many of us would shudder to wait for anyone thinking time waits for no one, a love story that patiently took it’s course, a wait of 10 years before the families gave a nod to go ahead, has to be one of the best living examples of the adage, “Good things come to those who wait patiently”.
As a mother to two sons, Mrs. Hemalatha made it a point to check that bride to their sons should also be independent & working because she would always want them to be self sustaining and self reliant, much like herself. She spent most part of her life trying to educate her sons that women should be respected, given equal opportunities to excel in life and treated as EQUALS.
Majority of the women in India after getting married would not want to work and prefer to be dependent on their husband monetarily and stay at home. Being a home maker is neither an easy job, it does suck the life out of us sometimes. I know that because a lot of women around me are house wives! And I’ve seen them toil hard to keep their family happy always, for as long as I could remember. There are days, when we felt that these home makers deserved a much needed break. But imagine a working lady, who not only works for 8hrs a day at her desk, but also is a home maker. My acquaintances , while getting marriage proposals are often told by the grooms family and the groom that they’d like it “If the Girl quit her job and concentrated on being a house-wife! While the guy will be the provider”. Well, for starters, it’s not always about the money. Secondly, we as woman want to work to be independent, responsible, and to walk with men hand in hand, equally, with our heads held high.
Mrs Hemalatha , in the year 1981 joined a government organisation to chase her passion and dream and still going on. 35 years back, I am sure not many women were allowed to work and even if they did, they would resign after they got married or after pregnancy. Leave alone work, very few women joined science or engineering. Today, she has served 35 years of her life, for the same company. If that isn’t dedication, honesty and hard work, what else is?
There are times when after work, you come back and want to relax or rather sleep. She would travel two hours in a bus to work one way and comes back home to cook for her family and spend wonderful time with them. I am sure she has gone through a lot of issues as well, can only imagine the kind of sacrifices she would have made to make all of this work. She’s often told me when I asked her what keeps you going for so many years? “I treat my work as worship” she says with a charming smile. She has successfully inspired women in her own family to take up work and enjoy it. Nearly every women in the next generation of their family is either in business or a job and they all owe it to this lady single handedly for showing them the right path.
My own mother, started up a crèche for young kids, similar to a play school. She never wanted to sit at home either. My mother didn’t earn much, but she earned fame, respect, love, happiness and more importantly she felt proud of herself and that confidence helped her take care of her family better as well. Like I said earlier, it’s not always about the money. The satisfaction that you get when you are appreciated at work is something that money can never buy!
Mrs. Hemalatha, hasn’t stopped chasing her dreams even at 58. She successfully ran a small business dealing in TupperWare products for a few years, to help a relative in addition to all the other responsibilities she had taken up. She is now a partner in the business that her elder son is running and that has taken off very well as well.
Every instance, I’ve met her, I’ve always found her to be cheerful, smiling and bubbly. She speaks with confidence and is always ready to lend a shoulder for those of us who want some advice. As a lady who’s achieved a lot on her own accord, the struggles she has undergone as the years have gone by, she is perhaps one of the most down to earth people I’ve met in this life time as well. Its always wonderful to meet such an inspirational woman. Like my friend’s brother quoted “Women in his Family have been Running the Show”. And everyone in their family are proud of the fact that they have supported their women in achieving whatever they’ve dreamed about.
These are the woman we must all look up to and learn something from. All the mother’s are in different way inspirational for generations to come. A suggestion to every woman and man in the world. If you want to start up a business or work, don’t hesitate!! Risk takers rule the world. There is no harm in putting forward to everyone something that you want to do. Some might like it some might not, but life doesn’t end there.
Age is never a limit.
Learn from your surroundings and do well to reach the sky. Mind you, Sky is not the limit, when there are Footprints on The Moon.