WOMAN – THE MASTERSTROKE OF GOD’S CREATION!

SHE IS WORTH FAR MORE THAN RUBIES. Her children arise and tell, “We are blessed to  be born from her womb”. Her husband says, “many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. I am sure, your beauty will fade away one-day but your godliness will ever praise. You have brought me respect, you are my dignity. The works of your hand are creative and worth to be praised in my community. In the dawn, while I am sleeping you leave your bed, kneel before God seeking grace for my family, prepare food and work hard to feed the entire family. Your kindness towards the poor and needy has always brought favour for our family in God’s sight. Your involvement and understanding my professional life brings profit to my wallet and comfort to my heart. Your counsel is full of wisdom and your lifestyle dispels the humbleness of your heart. When I sleep, the warmth and the beauty of our bed refreshes my body. YOU ARE MY CROWN!

You must be wondering, who is SHE!

She is the compiled picture I would sketch assorting the characters of those virtuous women who revealed to meHow does a woman look like!

The Bible says,

The beauty of a woman comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious to God. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

On August 2018, I met such a lady adorned with the inner beauty and from her mouth flows the word of wisdom and kindness. It was my first meeting with her. I was quite apprehensive about her response because I knew she is very introvert, talks less, professionally affluent and very intelligent whereas I am full-on opposite to her personality. Somehow after a little bit of mental exercise, I prepared myself and reached at her place. With a smile, she opened the door, introduced me to her mom and almost spent more than 1 hour 30 minutes of discussion. Since then I have never met her but within those few precious minutes with her words and gesture displayed the character of a woman who follows God’s ways, thinks relevant and speaks words of wisdom.

Do you know who she is? She is our dear Candles online writer – Rajnandini Sahu.   

The Bible says,

“A wise woman saves for the time of famine (difficult time) in her family and her household never run out of need.”

I have a cousin. Recently, she asked me about my savings and like most of the guys, I too failed to answer her. She scolded me almost for more than an hour on phone and the way she started sharing with me about different savings policies, I thought for a while am I talking to my cousin sister or an Insurance agent! Jokes apart, I realized she was right in scolding me on that. Most of the men are very bad in saving money for the future but women are not like that. In fact, they think about the future. A father desires for her daughter’s fat wedding but it is the mother who enables the father to save for the daughter’s wedding.

The Bible says,

“She is worthy of respect and trust-worthy”

I am very reluctant to talk to anyone about my past life and failures as today it is too hard to trust anyone. After a few hours of our chat when she asked me about my past life primarily, I struggled for a few minutes with the questions – ‘Will it be wise to tell her? Suppose she breaks my trust?’ But I assured myself to trust her and since that evening, our bonding was created, we started sharing our deepest secrets and became the first person for wise counsels in each other’s life. How beautiful it is to get such a trustworthy friend! The fun part is, I call her lovingly – Sweet Barlight (Tubelight).

The Bible says,

“In her life, after the Lord comes her family.”

I came to the world and immediately occupied her place in my Mom’s bosom. Since then our catfight broke out. Until we left home and moved to Delhi and Kolkata respectively for our professional life, there has hardly been a day when we haven’t fight, pulled legs or complained about each other. Even today, when we meet on vacations, fights are mandatory but honestly, her physical absence is always deeply felt and it has taught me many things with regards to dealing and respecting a woman. Often, I offer my seat to a lady on the crowded bus thinking about my Didi (Elder sister). I feel, if I respect this lady, God will surely listen to my silent prayer and bless my Didi.

Whenever it comes to family, I have always found her sacrificing everything and she always advises me “to put family first in everything that I do”.

Think about the world without such women, how devastating it would be! Yes, it is about these women who bring completeness in our life. We tend to think and categorize women as weak, vulnerable and risk factors in our life whereas it is not the truth!

God created everything yet He didn’t find a perfect companion for man. So, He gave deep sleep to man and took one of his ribs and formed a woman. When God brought her to man, the man said, “Now it is done. This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “WOMAN”, for she is taken out of the man.”

Yes, SHE – the Woman is our need. She is God’s Masterstroke of Creation to bring completeness, beauty and value.

Thank you, God, for HER and thanks to every woman!

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THESE WOMEN IN MY LIFE – BALANCING FOR BETTER 😌

I am sure, the title itself creates a very negative image of me in the minds of my readers. Trust me, I am not a womanizer. 😛

I am really blessed to have them in my life. I always praise God for all these beautiful women in my life who along with my male comrades wrote a number of articles, poems, quotes etc., to bring hope in the lives of many.

Today, on this special day, I have listed out, a few praiseworthy attributes they possess as a woman that I observed in them with my limited knowledge. I have also included the first article or poem that they had contributed to Candles Online as a sweet memory and for the readers to know about their beginnings – small or big.

The numbering before the names are not RANKS but just the way I listed them while writing this piece.

Now, without delay, meet the world’s 34 greatest women as under:

  1. Rajnandini: (First Article) I never found her. She found a piece of Candles (Printed copy) from somewhere and sent me an email, years back. And then, she never stopped sending till now… Her love for doing something good has never let her take a step backward. The best attitude as a woman which she has which I tried to learn, is her disciplined life. Whenever I share a new idea with her to start something new, she would discourage me` saying, “Bhai, check if you can manage to do it first… I personally don’t want to get involved in it… I have already so many on my plates.” And you know what, I don’t feel like going ahead with my idea anymore afterward when she says. But that was for my good and it does help me many times. I know, I am very enthusiastic when I start something fresh but after some time because of time constraints, I lose interest. If I ever try to introspect and retrospect, I look back to her though she is much younger to me. She derives that respect from me because of who she is. She has extended her hand a bit and created a blog of her own recently. Do have a look at it.
  2. Aastha: (First Article) She made me her Dada. She included me in her life. It has significance. Why so? Because I always search for people and bring them in my life. In her case, it was another way around. Once, my wife said, “Aastha says everything on your face and I really like her for that“. I agreed to her. She never shies away to utter what is right. I am very straight forward like her and really proud to have her as my sister – siblings do have similar attributes… Isn’t it? 😉 Another sparkling attribute she has, that’s she is not a woman of many words but a doer of what she professes. When it comes to work, she is completely into it. Read her heart more at her own blog
  3. Saakshi: (First Article) If you want to know how to shower goodness then learn from this woman. I have never seen such a lovable girl like her. Despite her daily portion of pains, when she laughs aloud, my heart fills with love for her. She is a child in her and the fun part is, I call her ‘Daughsis‘ (daughter- sister). Her age makes her my sister but her heart makes her my daughter. A girl or woman like her teaches all of us to be very simple-hearted in life, not to be so complicated. She is an excellent writer and has a blog for you to read her more as well.
  4. Kalpana: (First Article) An easy woman to talk to and convey the message. But her smiling face shines her beautiful character and personality. I think probably everyone on my team has got at least a comment or two from her. She never ignores a single message in the group. She is the only teammate who once beat me in regards to the number of comments left on the site recently. Being attentive to all, being an amicable person, are some of the great qualities of a woman that I always learn from her and everyone should learn as well. The best part about her is… she stopped writing for her blog after joining Candles Online.
  5. Sreepriya: (First Article) Does she ever get angry? I have never seen her so. She never says, ‘NO’ to me. Why? She is very good when she writes her heart out on her blog. Tolerance will be the word if I have to give a name to her person. I know, I have quite a number of women like her in my team… But she somehow stands out alone in regards to doing everything with a smile on her face.
  6. Prabhjot: (First Article) Commitment and loyalty are two beautiful attributes of a human (not of a woman only). And she has always been a very committed writer even when she lacked motivation. Once, I told her to take a break if she wants. But she said, “This is the only place where I write… I don’t want to lose that opportunity.” I am really grateful to her friendship and her loyalty to Candles Online which actually made me move ahead with my many plans. She was the sole receiver of all my ideas initially. And she also shared a lot of her own ideas in the beginning.
  7. Pradita: (First Article) Apart from Aastha, she is another one who calls me Dada and because of them, I feel like in a family more than just a writing community. If I have to learn from this woman then I won’t be able to finish praising her. She is an ace writer. No one will deny it that – she is the Sachin Tendulkar of Candles Online. A powerful thinker – her poems are simply out of the box. She is the only one I am jealous of… Why?? Because previously, I used to think I have a better sense of analogy but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… She has beaten me there… 😦 . I am happy, that she has been beating me in everything. She has a library of her own, displaying her talents so visit her blog to read them yourself.
  8. Preeta: (First Article) I will never forget one thing that she told me once when I asked her, “Will you forget Candles Online as you started working?” Her response was, “How can I forget my roots“. She made me proud that day. She is a souvenir preserver. She stores memories and I relate that very well, as I keep storing memories in some form with me as well. I was amazed when she posted a poster that I made for her on her status after a year or so. I like to store She is a quiet observer and always shows concern if she feels something is wrong with the person close to her. Great attitude!  
  9. Vipra: (First Article) Obedience is the word that I can use for my beloved daughter. An adorable kid, who’s soon be the best woman in the world. Yeah, that’s my wishes for her. She researched me and found me. Nobody has ever done that. She simply listens to the instructions and obeys, no arguments and rude responsesI am not saying that all the women should be like that. I am just picking up a few of her beautiful attributes which makes her a fabulous woman.
  10. Aditi: (First Article) She demands. Who can demand? The one who thinks she has authority over a friend. Love that attitude in her. She complains a lot as a friend and I love them. She is a writer who enjoys doing so and doesn’t write when she is not motivated. She is a happy going person which always sends a positive vibe to people around her. Read her articles on her own blog.
  11. Kuljeet: (First Article) I have a privilege of talking to 99.99% of my teammates. But I get the best reception from her whenever I call her up. My heart fills with joy listening to her exuberant voice. She makes people comfortable. That’s a quality which makes a woman stand out as the best. And now I know, why she is called the “agony aunt” by her cousins and family members. 😛 That sounds funny but a beautiful title to earn.
  12. Nilla: (First Article) She is the Big Mama of all… Caring, Warm, Loving, Concerned and what not. I rarely message her but whenever I message her she replies with the same warmth as she always does. She is an excellent caregiver. She is the only American among all of us and we are really proud to have her as our teammate.
  13. Sony: (First Article) A cousin who came to write with me after a lot of persistent attempts by me… but she is one who accommodates herself easily. Sometimes she amazed me with her thinking that she had reflected on her writings. She bends down instead of staying stiff and break under pressure.
  14. Prerna: (First Article) If I want my teammates to be enthusiastic and passionate about writing on Candles Online then I will wish them to be like this young girl. She is quick to submit her article, an ardent reader of all the articles published and passionate about writing. She grabbed the opportunity when offered as if she was eagerly waiting for it. This attribute of a woman of this age can really bring them to the top.
  15. Geetmalini: (First Article) She is a soft-spoken, warm and an adorable woman though she is unbeatable in regards to acquiring knowledge. An excellent storyteller and a great human being.
  16. Shwetha: (First Article) She is a wonderful woman with beauty, brain and strength. She has also a very good sense of analogy when she uses the words for her sweet and small poems. I believe those who can think well can have that talent reflecting on their lives. She thinks deep and when she wrote a motivational and inspirational write up she created ripple effects among the readers. She has that innocence on which her whole being is built amidst the chaos around her.  Trust me, she has the capability of boosting someone’s morale big time. Perseverance, that’s another attribute which she has that makes her very different than others.
  17. Shivangi: (First Article) She is Rajnandini’s fan… So, I don’t think I should say anything good about her… 😦 . Jokes apart, she is a very sweet girl and always knows how to express without hurting the person in front of her. Most women do that… Isn’t it? Read her articles on her own blog as well.
  18. Vidhi: (First Article) A very talented girl. I love her writing and always wish if she writes more Candles Online. But I know she is a student and needs to concentrate on her studies. She has a thinking brain and always tries to do what is right.
  19. Sanskriti: (First Article) Yeah, the Spooky Girl is very focussed on her studies. A woman focussed in her life can change the world. If you ever get an opportunity to visit her blog you will find, how focussed she is about what she writes.
  20. Ashrita: (First Article) She is one Bold and Beautiful woman. She speaks her mind when she writes. Her words are powerful and she deals the issues from the front. Read one of her bold and very poignant article on her own blog.
  21. Payal: (First Article) An adorable girl who is very sweet. She is an ardent reader and very observant. A very powerful attribute of a woman to be learned by all.
  22. Aparna: (First Article) A jolly and jovial girl with lots of dreams to achieve. She is passionate about her life and the purpose of life. Her clear knowledge about God and life at such a young age motivates me. She has a bigger part in my life like a daughter.
  23. Hina: (First Article) I haven’t interacted with her much but I appreciate her for showing interest to be part of the team and contribute few articles before getting occupied with her home, work and family.
  24. Smruti: (First Article) A multilinguistic and very power packed writer. Her life has trained her so. She is a fantastic woman despite her struggles. She can write fabulously in Hindi, Urdu, English and Odiya. She represents those women in the world who shine when tested in the heat of a fire.
  25. Avishikta: (First Article) She is my cousin. She fetches visitors. Her words are catchy and strong. She is a very adorable and intelligent female. She never writes very big and long yet never fails to get the attention.
  26. Kriti: (First Article) I haven’t interacted with her much but she explains one such attribute of a woman which is always regarded by all. That quality is – Cooking. Her blog is dedicated to all her experiments in the laboratory called, Kitchen.
  27. Khristina: (First Article) One of my favourite cousin whom I adore so much. She is a brilliant singer, a brilliant writer and a very passionate and focussed about her aim in life. Apart from being a very skilful writer, she is also very compassionate and caring woman.
  28. Megha: (First Article) I haven’t interacted with her much but I know, she is a multifaceted writer. In regards to writing, she has all the knowledge and wisdom. Her blog is the witness of her capabilities.
  29. Ruth: (First Article) Brilliant dancer and a gorgeous woman to behold. A great leader and passionate teacher.
  30. Samarpita: (First Article) A very simple lady with a mind and heart to give away her life doing things for people. She has always made herself available for serving the people around her with much humility. A great attribute to learn from her.
  31. Sulagna: (First Article) Till now no one has amazed me like her with her flares of words when she writes a post or article. She is an extremely talented woman and very vocal (sharing out) when she wants to put a point across everyone.
  32. Deepa: (First Article) A lovable and very emotional lady but she is very adorable. When she writes (in her blog), she pours her heart out. That’s something very remarkable about her.
  33. Pratibha: (First Article) She is a retro girl with a style. She sprinkles gold flakes when she writes her sweetest poems – small and impactful. Her blog is the witness to what I said about her.
  34. Asha: (First Article) She is a great friend, a very intelligent female to have on the team. Her inputs are always great as she is a thinker and a vivid reader. I enjoy seeing her passion for books and learn that attribute of her – being passionate. Despite reading she writes very well as well in her blog.

Balance for Better is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, which we all observe every year on March 8. The 2019 initiative is aimed at gender equality, a greater awareness of discrimination and a celebration of women’s achievements, according to the International Women’s Day website. And as the leader of Candles Online, I would proudly dedicate this article to all the women associated with me as my teammates working together for a cause, a greater calling – balancing well for the better.

Wish you all 34 great women, a very HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!

(Featured Image: Google Inc.)

WHO CAN FIND A VIRTUOUS WOMAN!

There were probably many authors have written, describing the virtues of a good wife, but before being a housewife, she is a WOMAN, a daughter, a sister and later after marriage, she is a wife and a mother. Most of the women have these virtues and display them time and again, making the lives of men easy and meaningful. 

Today, I am writing about one such woman, the one who made my hectic work schedule even more tumultuous, on whom my first impression was “she is  killing my free time, and too dependent” but she changed it to  “glad I met her and helped in however way I could.” She defied many obstacles, she might have felt helpless throughout that entire journey but never hopeless, she never gave up, and in doing so she displayed some virtues, I’ve mentioned, so seamlessly. 

I was working as a junior resident in one of the busiest and prestigious medical institutes and posted for a limited stint in Surgical oncology department. There came an old age couple, the husband with extensive Liver metastasis of Neuroendocrine tumor, surgical resection was not ideal, so was referred to Medical oncology. 

She, being the only attendee of the patient (wife) was uneducated, quite devastated, didn’t knew the language of that land (Tamil), bankrupt (surgery to the primary tumor and subsequent chemotherapy in a corporate set up ate up all their savings) with no relatives or contacts in that town, came all the way for her husband’s treatment. Unfortunately, her husband’s tumor was a rare one and the medicine prescribed was not on free supply and would cost a good 30,000 rupees per month or more. She didn’t have that money, but what she possessed was unmatched dedication, and resolve to get the treatment done somehow.

She was not an acquaintance; she was just from my hometown but made me her beacon of hope. She kept visiting me in my working hours, disturbing my work, seeking help, and she wouldn’t budge when I said: “I can’t come every time to translate what the medical oncologist is trying to convey.” (my work would get delayed, patients I am attending to, had to wait) She would plead, demand, wait and somehow win me every time to accompany her and her husband to the medical oncologist and made me the unofficial attendee. 

She worked on finding Telugu speaking people in that area, managed to find a place to stay free of cost, and through me she could get the scan dates, reports etc at the earliest, managed to find some donors to help her financially, met the political leaders of that area to see if they could help her by any means. Facing each difficulty with patience, resolve, finding ways to get help, going past the humiliations and in doing, so she displayed all the virtues of being a good wife. 

Here are a few of her virtues that we all need to learn… Let me explain. 

WORKS like a servant

They stayed for more than five months and later would travel once every month for the treatment. Total treatment spanned over 16 months and every time she was the only attendee. (her sons couldn’t come to help).  She never complained, she always said “they work hard, send me money and take care of their families, they can’t afford to leave the job. I am perfectly capable of taking care of my husband, and I can manage.” 

Having patience like Earth

In spite of many odds like not knowing the language, not being educated, not having much financial support, being old herself, not knowing anybody in that area, a terminal condition of her husband, nothing deterred her resolve to fight for her husband and to give him as many days as possible. She faced every odds and humiliations with patience.

Beautiful and resourceful

She was bankrupt but somehow could arrange enough money for the patient’s treatment. Probably it was her resolve that melted God Himself and help came through various sources. 

Advice like a minister

Time and again she adviced her husband and sons that “we can’t give up trying.” Her husband wanted to be at the comfort of home and accept fate and sons would say “we don’t know anybody there who would help us.” She proved them wrong; she managed to get help, did everything she can and her husband lived for 16 months. 

Feeds like a mother

Out of gratitude and probably Love, she would bring me home cooked sweets. I don’t enjoy desserts, I always resisted, but she would either force feed me or convince me to at least taste it. She was always thankful to me for helping her and her husband. 

Today, when I sit back and think about her, her struggles and her patience and how she fought, I feel proud of her. She is nobody but a stranger to me, but I am glad, I met her, helped her and earned her gratitude and love. You might think, any wife would do the same when her husband is on death bed, true, I won’t deny. But what made her special was, never once she blamed the system nor god nor fate. She took everything in her stride and only focussed on what she can do to save her husband

She was an example, one among many living, look around, in your own lives, you would have come across thousands of such women or heard of, respect them, love them, treat them fair, support them and let’s learn from them — happy woman’s day in advance. 

Note – I didn’t mention her name because I don’t know her name. I always addressed her as Aunty or Amma.

DEAR MOM

Dear mom,

I have never written about you. I have written about girls I have liked but never written about you. So here I sit down and type this letter just for you, dear mom. Although I don’t have clear memories of my early childhood and never asked you if it was easy for you to give up your job as a nurse to look after me, to take care of me, help me grow up, I thank you for that. It may have been a difficult decision for you to make I assume, but you still did it for me. Women are hardly asked about the effect of quitting their jobs to care for a baby or look after the family. It is expected of them, so much so that in certain cases if the newlywed wife doesn’t intend to give up her career she is criticized unfairly by others. Of course, things are changing in the present times but men are never expected or asked to give up their careers to bring up a son or daughter. You were so practical and did it anyway just for me so that I could receive your love from the moment I was born.

Mom, we don’t talk much. I mean at least when I compare with my friends talking to their mothers I don’t think we talk much. But I tell you things I would never have the courage to tell dad. I tell you about the girl I like, about the time I went to meet her. You ask me if we watched a movie and I say “no, no”. And I always feel very happy when you ask me to get KFC’s zinger burger whenever I go to a mall. Can I tell you something more? I have many close friends who are women, and also if I wanted to have a sibling it would be an elder or younger sister. Perhaps it’s the way in which women-kind can empathize and sympathize that makes them such amazing people, whom one can easily confide in, and talk about most things under the sun without being made fun off. I have guy friends too who share this trait but they are a rarity.

You know the one thing which is so underappreciated and equally undervalued is the immense hard-work you put in maintaining the home and family. It might seem that you are duty-bound to do it but the commitment and perseverance you show is just unbelievable. I have seen you washing clothes early-morning during the winters, do the dishes, when dad and I either just sit in front of the television or doze-off. I have seen you enthusiastically waking up early to prepare breakfast so that dad can go to the office and I can go to school on time, even though you might be running a fever. You never have any designated days as holidays. Dad has off days at work. I have off days as a student. But you never have. I heard you saying once “we women never have a day off”. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Especially after you fell ill last Christmas and I had to help out dad with the household work. I realized how effortlessly you do the entire body of work without complaining about your grievances. I know I have let you down, by not providing more help in maintaining the house and share the chores to reduce your workload. But I intend to work on it. Men have so-called “more important jobs” and women are left to do the “unimportant, menial tasks”. I don’t think anymore that women do unimportant tasks. Their contribution is as important and sometimes even more as the husband’s or the son’s. I have to make sure that you have holidays too and that we share the household workload more.

Mom, I love your liking for water-less puchkas and excitement for an occasional “yum-yum chili-chicken”. I love your eyes lighting up for steamed-momos, rosgollas and misthi-doi. I love the sweet mango pickle, our “jelly-pickle” you make during the summers and the kheer you make whenever I return home for holidays. I get so delighted when you prepare “tikhil-asma” and “bairka-asma” and our favorite, though tasteless yet very fulfilling “thappa-roti”. I miss the “osa-dishes” you made when I was small. I used to love mushrooms at that point of time. I miss our walks back from primary school. Mom, you know what quality of yours I love the most. Well, it isn’t just one. It’s your humility, your perseverance, your silent sacrifices without ever making a big deal about it, your quiet stillness and calm amidst all chaos, the way you stay calm and brave even during earthquakes when dad gets all panicky and scampers out of the house like a rat. We both know about that. I have grown up to be a bit like you, mom. I definitely look like you and I have some of your qualities, though not up to your level but I am working on it. And I have so much more to say and write but I will stop here now. I know words are never enough and I don’t say this enough but I love you, mom.

A MODEST HUMAN BUT A GUTSY WOMAN

I have never seen someone that jolly and cheerful as her. It was very easy to know whether she was present or absent in the class. The reason was crystal clear, her loud voice and laughter. I had never seen her sitting sad or tired. She never used to keep people waiting. She used to speak what she thought to be correct according to her. When she used to scold someone, it was more like a loving and authoritative reprimand than insulting. But she never used to leave a person go easily 😛 . She believed in clarifying the matter more than keeping it in a hanging state. In our class, she was known as a ‘Clean Hearted Girl’, having no ambiguity within her. That was something commendable about her!

I am happy that I could relate to her so much because of our similar body structures. Is it necessary to announce that we were thin? 😊

She used to ride a bike much before the ad came up with the tagline – “Why should boys have all the fun”. She was having the fun even before the bike company even realized to make a jingle to sell its product. She was not tomboyish, but a beautiful and flamboyant girl.

She had kept friendship with as many people as possible in the class, unlike other girls. She was quite limitless in knowing and making friends. She was never a shy girl – not to flaunt around though but to keep decent friendship with all. That’s a pretty unusual attitude of hers which I admire a lot. In today’s world, when every feminist is fighting and shouting for issues like gender equality, my friend declared it with ease that she is equal to a man by her attitude and action in various aspects of life. She didn’t have to fight for it or shout for it or even try to prove it, but she lived it with her utter modesty.

No, I am not contradicting with what I said about her previously as not being a shy girl and what I said now about her being modest. Actually, I can put it this way – She was modest as a human, she was gutsy as a girl. And I believe, she possesses the same quality even today, though she had to go through many traumatic life situations in her life later.

We studied together at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar for our post-graduation during the year 1997-1999. We were very good friends when we were in University, but we became close friends only after our studies. Usually, after a certain time in life people tend to lose their college and university friends. Even I did so. Presently, I am rarely in touch with any of my college and university friends. But the best part of our friendship is, we are still friends and in touch with each other. She never forgets to call me to wish on my birthday and Christmas every year. It was she who never let our friendship go, not even after she got married. Yeah, we had lost track in the middle for some time, while we went ahead in different career searches but we found our friendship back on track, after few months of her marriage.

There were quite a few hurdles that she had to cross over in her life – she biggest being, she lost her husband last year. She was utterly broken, she is broken even now, I know it very well. But I also know that she will get over it soon with the grace of God.

We grew in maturity with regards to our friendship, thanks to her. She knew how to own a relationship, a friendship. A few days ago, while talking with her on the phone, she addressed me as ‘Bhai‘ (Brother). And I knew she meant it wholeheartedly.

Dharashree! Yeah, that’s her name. I treasure her and our friendship for a lifetime. I believe a woman like her can bring a lot of change in this world.

Today, when the world around us has so many broken relationships, lost promises and loose-ended friendships, a woman like Dharashree can play a very important role to bring things together and on track. Only a woman like her, can win people, own them and live with all in peace.

A woman like my friend ‘Dharashree’, justifies why we all should celebrate the International Women’s Day again this year in 2019.

A WOMAN’S POWER TO RECONCILE

Quite staggering isn’t it, how a woman revolves her life around her biggest priorities in a way men seldom can. She’s caring and soft but she is also brave. A little edgy and wants to soar high but can also compromise. She can forgive and forget, trust and love.

We hadn’t met before and perhaps would have never, had it not been for a prank urgent call from a friend that ended up in me ghastly cycling my way to his house, for a reason I’d never find out. And as a consequence of his actions and more for my disregard for the college I was enrolled to, we decided to bunk that day.

It was there that I met Dempa – an abbreviation to save us time from pronouncing her longish name – when she stepped out of her room and greeted us with a smile. I had heard from Rohan that his sister was leaving for Nepal the following week. Therefore, mistaking her smile to be the excitement for a new journey, I gleefully queried how happy she was on starting a new life.

From what I had heard, it was indeed promising to be a new life for a girl, who would turn 23 the same day she would begin her journey towards a new destiny. Dempa worked here in a BPO sector, shared a flat with her still studying cousin brother and was the quintessence of most independent women.

But in a split of minutes, between which we conversed mostly on why she was leaving and her plans for future, my expression changed. She was still smiling though. I was certain that smile, somewhat forced, hid explodable sorrow. “But why now?”, I asked, recounting my mother, who after losing her husband on a fateful Valentine’s Day four years ago, rushed to the hospital next morning to help a neighbour, who didn’t know what to do and where to take his ill wife. Like really?

These women, they can give reality a resounding check and stand as brave to the outside world while their inner-depth moist with tears and you would never know.

Dempa was a month away from completing one year in the job. That would mean a slight improvement in her arrears, more experience and a higher band (BPO sectors usually have bands that increases with better performance and experience) which will increase her salary. “Because my grandmother is going,” she said. Dempa’s grandmother stays in Kharagpur in the house of her eldest daughter. That is where Dempa grew up alongside her aunt’s two children.

Her parents stay in Nepal. But Nepal has never been home to Dempa. It is only a holiday destination for her. “I find it very uncomfortable there,” she says. “That is why I only travel there for a few days and come back at the earliest. But this time I have to go.” “Why don’t you just drop you granny stay there for a few days and come back,” I suggested trying to find her options.

Rohan once told me that Dempa was the eldest child in her family. She had two brothers. Dempa was sent to India to stay with her grandmother. She would never live with her parents again and apart from a few holidays when one side travelled to visit the other, they would hardly meet.

“No! There is another reason,” Dempa responded refuting my suggestions. “What is it,” I asked, anxious. “My father wants me to come back.” “Ohh,” I said exasperatingly. “Joseph daa, Rohan must have told you by now that I stay with my grandmother since my cradle days. I missed my parents then. My Boju (grandmother in Nepali) has been my only parent. Now my father wants me to spend more time with him. He will support me, he said,” Dempa spoke cautiously.

“Ohh great!! What have you decided then,” I asked. “I will go,” she was crystal clear in her mind. “What about Rohan then? He’ll stay alone?” I enquired and argued. “I have spoken to him, he will understand,” she said stubbornly. All the while Rohan was busy with earphones tucked to ear. He was playing some stupid FIFA game on his desktop. I was frustrated with him. Here was I worried about him but he wasn’t bothered.

“Don’t worry about him. I have already found him another flat. He will spend the final three months of his fourth semester with one of my friend’s family. I know them too well. They have promised to take care of him. He doesn’t have to even cook,” she said reassuring me. “Why on earth did this thing not come to my head,” I thought to myself.

Oh God! Such a wonderful creation. They would think of your well being even before you’d think of your own. You can’t beat them on that. Caring and thinking for others are in their DNA.

Then there was a little pause. I prepared to go home. But she said, “You know… This is the third time my father is asking me to come back.” “What do you mean,” I asked. “You had gone before?” “Yes” her voiced mowed down. “I had gone in 2013 after completing my higher secondary. But he didn’t want me to study further. So I stayed for seven months, fought and came back to India.” 

“Then the second time what happened?” I asked, firmly stuck to my seat. Going home was now out of my mind. This was getting dangerous. She said that last year she had gone again. “But I could only stay three months.” “Why? What happened?” I asked again. “He was about to get me married off to one his friend’s sons. My mother helped me escape from home,” she said, her eyes lighted with perhaps tears.

Dempa…No! Don’t go.” I was already protective. (No, don’t praise me for that. Anyone would the same thing on the count of these incidents.)

“Don’t worry. My grandmother is there this time. My father has also promised me that he won’t do anything as such,” she said again full of reassurance. “But how can you trust him?,” I shot back.

She was willing to risk it. After all isn’t love, bonding and trust the greatest gift of God. A mother’s love couldn’t see her daughter getting forced into a marriage. She acted then. Here was Dempa ready to trust again. Ready to bond again.

But my constant refutes and her unshakeable confidence soon turned the conversation into a heated argument. Then she backed down because I wasn’t willing to. “What if he again does something similar,” I questioned her trust. “He won’t, I know,” she said in monosyllables.

So you have forgiven him?” I asked, hurrying myself to leave without waiting for an answer. I could hear her say, “Yes! Forgiven and reconciled” as I climbed down the stairs having forgotten to shut the door behind.

She was ready to forgive and forget for the third time. At that moment she had exemplified what I had grown up reading and hearing. Of course, I didn’t realise it then.

We met at a shopping mall approximately a week later – the three of us. I asked her immediately, “What is the final decision then?” “I am travelling the day after tomorrow.” She answered.

THE COFFEE THAT MADE HISTORY

My footsteps echoed with a plangency, that almost scared me. As I walked, through the lighted but empty hallway, I could hear, the westerly winds, making the Eucalyptus tree leaves, rustling with fear. It was that kind of a night. My palms were wet with sweat and my heart was racing ahead of me. It was as if I was walking through the deep dark forest with the sunbathed leaves crunching under my foot, only this was the lighted hallway of my Operation Theatre. Every footstep accentuated the deadening silence that engulfed me. Suddenly, her giggles broke the monotony of that engulfing silence and grew louder. It was her trademark giggle and somehow it was music to my ears. Women have this nature of arriving from nowhere and imposing themselves on the scene. Perhaps, God has made them that way. “Meena”, I called in desperation.

Meena was the best Scrub Nurse, that I, a young and inexperienced Surgeon could have, in my graveyard shift. She opened the Operation Theatre door with a smile and said, “Perfect!! your patient has already been wheeled in”. I peeped in to see, the young kid, with a stick inside his abdomen and said in exasperation, “I dunno, whether the child will survive”. She immediately shot back, “It’s not for ours to think of survival. We are the means, never the end”. Women do that. They are masters at a refocussing back to ground zero realities and whenever they do that, God above smiles. You might think, “how insensitive!!”, but they love blurting out pathway driven truths. “The Anaesthetist is on his way and before he arrives, I have brewed some Coffee. It’s not the best in the World but will serve the purpose of re-energizing us“, she said smiling. “Gosh!! I need the coffee”, I thought. “How did she know that?” A million dollar question which men have been trying to answer since times immemorial. Women somehow know the onlooker better than the onlooker knows them. It’s a thought process that’s engraved inside that busy brain of theirs, since birth.

The coffee was soothing. One sip and my parched and drought-ridden throat suddenly had a voice. Meena was wearing her blue scrubs and sipping coffee with me. “Hows it?”, she asked. “It’s not the best in the World, but serves our purpose emphatically”, I said. “Ahh!!! the humour is back“, she blurted out immediately. “My coffee works, Isn’t it?“, she said it with a chuckle. I kind of knew by that time that she was loathing me back to confidence. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Women are like tea bags, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. Women somehow love to stand up and deliver in difficult situations, a thing we men always note but forget to mention until Valentine’Day or Women’s Day.” She expectingly asked, “Sir, how is it, that you are quickly able to sip away the piping hot coffee?”. I answered with a smile, “coffee is always good when hot because it fires up the fatigued neurons to act”. She immediately retorted back, “Isn’t this patient similar to the hot coffee, you are drinking?” When I gave an inquisitive look, she further added, “to operate on a difficult and diseased patient, takes courage but results in increased skills, which go down a long way to make you more daring, for such cases”. I argued back saying, “Surgery is an art, Meena!!” She coyly smiled and said, “Sir, Surgery is definitely an art, but Surgery is also a dare. For the skills to get better, the dare is essential”. She had a point there, I thought. Just then the Anaesthetist arrived and we scrubbed for the Surgery. We operated on the kid, and found a hole in the intestine and repaired it. The child remained over 2 months in our Surgical Ward and went home after that.

Its been 10 years since that day but it still rings clear in my head, whenever I am reluctantly operating on a sick patient. Meena’s words still echo and have over the years become a guiding light. Here was a woman, who taught me something, that no Medical College did. That eventful night, she changed a mindset for good. Now I relish a dare because 10 years back she proved it for me. She gave me belief, hope, desire and topped it with lots of smiles. For me, she has and will always remain a “Woman of Substance“. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I salute her indomitable spirit. Its always has been my prayer, “May her tribe increase“.