Somashis Gupta narrates an inspiring story about 4 incredible women who fought the stubbornly insular society with their dauntlessness to revalue the meaning of independent India
Women have been oppressed for thousands of years in our country. They accept everything. They never question. That’s an achievement of the patriarchs in our society. The women who accept the customs blindly are valued the most by the men in our society. The true essence of an independent India can only be achieved when we as a society break free from the shackles of gender bias.
This Independence day I share with you the incidents of a day, when I coincidently met some incredible women who fought the stubbornly insular society with their dauntlessness to revalue the meaning of independence.
I was reading the ‘Red Oleanders’, sitting in the lobby of the Redisson Blue, New Delhi. I saw a group of Cabin Crew at the check-in counter, amongst them I spotted….
….Satabdi. I remember her as a teenager who walked-in to my chamber for her entrance exam. Her rhetoric skills were below average and grooming sense was negligible. For her joining the Aviation industry seemed preposterous. But she told me her dreams to fly remains resolute and unswerving in spite of the resentment of parochial society, I decided to give her an opportunity.
Gradually with her humungous effort Satabdi mastered the English Language, went through a complete makeover and refined herself to look every inch the chic Airhostess.
Seeing her today in her Emirates Airlines uniform, I was delighted. She came to seek my blessings with tears of joy, as she saw me. I wished her all success and proceeded to the conference hall, where I met………
……a group of young and enthusiastic employees from Fare Portal. My sessions always starts with an introduction of the participants… “My name is …”, “I am ….”, and then …
…a young lady in the second row speaks… “My parents named me Sreyoshee”, there was an unwonted gaiety in her manner, something seemed different, an untold story which intrigued me. She continued “I ran away from Guwahati, as I wanted to stay in Delhi, with just three thousand rupees.” I adored her truthfulness.
She revealed that she was strapped soon after. A desperate search for jobs made her a teacher in Mother’s Pride School. Her remuneration was just enough for the house rent, and she had to survive with barely one meal. But she did not bow down and go back a looser. She continued her struggle for existence and gradually moved up the ladder. Today with her dedication and hard work she is in a position to support her parents.
A rustle of the pages broke my thoughts. The watch showed 5 PM. My session has ended. I came to train but learnt instead.
An Art and Craft exhibition was organised at The Grand Ball Room. Hoping to buy a memento I walked in, and met….
….an ensemble gathering of artists and craftsman. I walked in to an outlet, Craftarina, where I met Srishti, the owner. Something immensely galvanizing about her prickled me to know her story.
A lot did happen over coffee, she explained how as a single mother she had to start Crafterina, to generate extra income. Soon she could quit her teaching job as earnings were good. But the good times were not for long. An exhibition which devoured all her savings got cancelled, leaving her penny less. She did not give up. Started working as a teacher and gradually rearranged Crafterina . Today she caters to clients all across the country.
I was speechless and bedazzled, just than she shrieked …..
…“Anupama! What are you doing here?”
Two old friends meeting each other like this, is always fun. I realized I should leave and let the ladies enjoy, when I heard Srishti asking “How is Muztaba and the kids?”
I didn’t want to stay any longer but I was hooked. “Your husband?” I asked, even as I reminded myself, that it’s not my business.
“Yes” she replied. “Love marriage” I hazarded a guess. “Love is not the word, it is my inspiration, my strength and something which made me what I am today.” She replied. I sat down again.
People fall in love but she rose in Love.
Relationship for a teenager was considered an offence those days. (Tinder was unborn) and loving a Muslim was and is a crime to the nincompoop society. But she was proud of her love for the man. She knew she had to reach somewhere to be able to live her love.
When she was in 12th standard, she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura a health condition where frequent hospitalization is required. The arduous journey embalmed by Maztaba’s unceasing support helped her to complete her graduation. She moved to Delhi for studying design and also be by the side of her man who had been an inspiration throughout. But her health deteriorated and she was forced to return to Guwahati forgoing her dreams to work with Eri Muga. Friends insisted her to stay back, she had to lie that she got selected for the Civil Service.
Who knew that a casual lie would turn out to be true. Today she is a bureaucrats to the government of Assam. Happily married to Muztaba with two wonderful daughters.
I was proud to meet these ladies , the paladins of freedom. They reminded me of the vedic period where women were epitomes of intellectual and spiritual attainments and had powers to choose their life partners in Swambars. I recalled the preaching of Swami Vikekananda “No man shall dictate to a woman nor women to a man… Women will work out their destiny better than men can ever do for them. All mischief has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women.”
I came back to my room and found a news paper, the headline read
“SABRIMALA TEMPLE OPENS FOR WOMEN AS ORDERED BY SUPREME COURT”
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.