I was sobbing quietly trying to hide in the corner of my seat. The train was leaving the station slowly and I could see my dad waving outside the window smiling. More tears streamed down my cheeks as I realized I would have to wait for one long year to see his warm smile again. ‘Are you going away from your family for the first time?’…a soft voice interrupted my chain of thoughts.
I hurriedly wiped my tears and looked up. A beautiful woman seemingly in her mid-30 was standing beside my seat. She offered me a tissue before sitting in the empty seat beside me. ‘No, I have lived outside for several years for education and work even before I got married, but then I could come and visit my family during the vacations but now I live out of India and only get to see them once in a year’, I blurted out complaining like a little child.
‘I understand it must be tough, she said with an empathetic smile. I have been through this.’ ‘Oh you also live away from your parents’, I chipped….’Yes, I do but not just from my parents, from my husband as well. You see my husband works in Dubai and I live here in India with my two kids’, she said, matter-of-factly.
‘But why don’t you join him there’, I asked, curiously.
‘Oh the kids are studying here, they are in good schools and also it would be difficult for my husband if we all went there. So I live and work here and take care of our kids and he visits us twice a year. He always brings lots of gift for us’, she declared happily as if trying to give a happy ending to her story.
I wasn’t sure if I should join in her cheer or express my concern.
She was obviously going through a difficult time, raising up kids and managing her job all on her own but not for once while stating all this she looked stressed.
In fact she shared how happy she was that they were getting a good income for the family because of her husband’s overseas job and she could pass on some to her own parents and her in laws, every month.
I realized, I had stopped crying long back. I looked at her warm face again as she lifted her daughter who had fallen asleep and slowly put her head to rest in her lap.
Her cheerful smile resembled that of my mother when she gave me the hot milk glass when I studied late into the night before my exams. She would sit right by me all night and still manage to wake up fresh, smiling and beautiful as ever.
I never saw her stressed or complaining, not even when we refused to eat the curries she had prepared after a day’s hard work and when we demanded her to make our favourite snacks late at night.
I sometimes wondered if she had super powers because she never seemed to get tired, not even when we demanded her to take us out to the shopping mall just after she had returned from a tiring day at work.
She bought us new clothes and toys with all the extra money she managed to save and not even once included herself in her shopping list. She looked thrilled when surprise guests dropped in and made delicious dinners almost with the speed of the magical Jinni winking her eyes.
I remember her laughing aloud when I had asked her once, ‘don’t you ever get tired, don’t you just hate us all for making you work so much, don’t you ever feel running away from it all?’
What she told me inspired me then and continues to inspire me throughout my life, she said, ‘I do not get tired because I get my energy from the smiles on your faces. Your hugs rejuvenate me and give me the energy to keep going. As for running away, I can’t even survive a day without you all. You are the wind beneath my wings.’
I know for a fact that this isn’t just her story but a story that reverberates in millions of households, offices and social networks across India, where women are maintaining delicate balance between home and work and spreading smiles and cheer as wives, mothers, friends while making a mark and name for themselves in a plethora of career fields.
The most amazing part about all these awesome women playing myriad roles in different walks of life, with grace, fortitude and integrity is not just their strength, their resilience or their determination to keep going but their loving hearts, twinkling eyes that keep millions of dreams alive, genuine intent with which they share smiles and their strong belief in the Choices they make every day.
Here’s saluting all you incredibly inspiring women out there, you are special not because of the extra-ordinary things you do but because of how you make the ordinary things special with the choices you make.
Stay this way, be yourself, follow you heart and keep making the choices you believe in.
You will find us standing right behind you!