One could do it any day of the year, but it's International Women's Day today, so let me thank the women who have made a difference in my life. Many of them will not even read this post, either because I am no longer in touch with them, or because they are not computer savvy, but the Universe has strange ways of making connections happen, so who knows?
There's my mother, beautiful, graceful, intelligent, quick witted ( acerbic on occasions!) well read, intelligent, creative, courageous, and many other things besides. She taught us the values of hard work, perseverance, integrity and self sacrifice, by example. My father's untimely demise nearly broke her spirit but she rallied round. She survived cancer and survived the hardships that have been the lot of her beloved daughter. She loves her grand daughters as if they were nehmat. She is indomitable, and I am blessed to be her daughter.
There was my maternal grandmother, petite, elegant, a tireless worker, someone who'd be up at the crack of dawn to water the greens, who'd embroider complex, eye catching landscapes, who was a devoted wife, a loving mother, a woman of incredible taste who had grown up without the benefit of an education but who learnt enough to spend the afternoon reading, who'd scrimp and save so that she could buy chocolates for her grandchildren, who suffered uncomplainingly at the hands of her wayward son and provided for him till her last breath, who taught me the value of order, neatness and clutter free spaces,whom I recall every time I see a rose bloom, a peacock dance, the sweeping flower arrangements in hotel lobbies.
There's my maasi, ever youthful, ever courageous, she of the lilting voice and sparkling eyes, who'd take her young nieces and nephews (all 6 of them) window shopping in Chandigarh, then have them rest on the pavement and regale them with stories.
There is my bua, whose phenomenal memory translated into long story sessions which were so vivid in description that when I read the books many years later, I knew before turning the page what would happen next.
There's my co sister, who is as strong as she looked fragile when I was first introduced to her by my brother in law. She's lovely, independent, fun loving, generous, speaks Hindi with a Kashmiri accent even after decades of living outside Kashmir, and belongs to that rare class of women who never shed tears in public!
There is Simmi, my friend of more than twenty years, with whom I can begin a conversation after 6 months as if it were only 6 minutes ago that we had last talked. She has the most wonderful sense of humour, an ability to make everyone feel special and cared for, and the increasingly rare faculty of being able to laugh whole heartedly at her own foibles.
There's Mrs Saasan, my IX th grade Hindi teacher who inspired me to drastically improve my Hindi writing skills, got me interested in chhand and alankaar, and whose eagle eye would never fail to detect the Mills& Boon hidden between the covers of the Hindi text book.
There's my senior colleague, Jasdeep V Singh, whose immaculate appearance, mellow voice and beautifully draped saris concealed an iron determination to do the job right every time, on time. She was the one who advised me while my children were still very young that the best parenting was one that had an element of detachment ---- clinging mothers make awful mothers, she told me, and that was the best advice I have ever got on parenting.
There are my nieces, whom I rarely get to meet but whose very presence in my life reassures me that the next generation is getting ready to take on the mantle of gentle but firm feminism from their mothers and grandmothers.
I very fondly and often remember Reena, the young household help who for three years helped me bring up my young children even as I did complete justice to my 9 to 5 job. She was the one who escorted them back from school, made certain they had their lunch, fielded the innumerable calls I made from office and comforted and reassured me, kept the children busy indoors during the afternoon and brought them out to play just as my car drove in so that I could hug them and straight away join the rough and tumble of their play.
There are all the wonderful women I have met via Facebook or otherwise in the past couple of years ----- Ruchika, whose dedication to her daughter, Manavi, and resolve to move mountains to get Manavi a fair deal from a world unconcerned with differently abled children is awe inspiring, Sunita, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Urdu poetry and whose knowledge of poetry, philosophy and music is as astounding as her courage in the face of adversity, Bhavna Nissima whom I have never met but who feels like a kindred soul, Anita Bhargava whose zeal, passion, sincerity and effervescence are so infectious that I find myself drawn into every civic initiative she begins to pursue (and there are many!), and dozens of other women with whom I relate as a mother, a lover of poetry or music or as a conscientious citizen.
To all these fabulous women, my heartfelt gratitude for enriching my life!