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Life lessons from WOMEN who INSPIRE

By ULKA KHILARI, SUJATA DALVI, Dr PRIYANKA SHARMA, DR MITHILEYSH SATHIYANARAYANAN, DR REEBA ROBERT, SOMA SEKHAR PULLURU
March 08, 2021 11:51 IST
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We'd asked you, dear readers, to tell us about the woman who inspired you in your life and career.
Here are some fascinating stories we received.

Ulka Khilari tells us how her Aai's values motivate her to be kind and happy.

Radhabai Chandrakant Khilari

IMAGE: 'My aai Radhabai Chandrakant Khilari transformed me into a better human being, a compassionate and empathetic person,' says Ulka Khilari. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ulka Khilari

The woman who inspired me is my Aai.

Her name is Radhabai Chandrakant Khilari; she is my father's elder brother's wife.

We grew up in a joint family in Mumbai and I always felt a soul connection with Aai.

She was a very loving, kind and compassionate person.

She looked after me and my siblings like her own children.

It is hard to believe how anyone can love someone else's kids so unconditionally like her own.

She taught me to always be there to help others. She believed that humanity and compassion will make you happy.

I remember several incidents where I saw her deep, compassionate nature and how she treated everyone with respect.

Although we stayed in a small home in Mumbai, she happily chose to share her living space with those who were less fortunate.

When people from the village came to the city during the mango harvest season, she would happily allow people from our native place or a remote acquaintance, to stay and leave their stuff at our place.

She would wake up at 5 am to serve them tea. I found her gesture very heart touching and deeply compassionate.

I lost her 8 years ago.

I felt very lonely after she passed away. She had a significant impact on my life.

Soon after she passed, I encountered Nichiren Buddhism.

I have this feeling that one Buddha is gone from my life so the Universe sent another Buddha in the form of this practice.

Aai has transformed me into a better human being, a compassionate and empathetic person.

Aai's life emphasised that actions speak louder than words.

I am eternally grateful to her for her unconditional love. Thank you Aai. I love you.

May God bless everyone with such loving and kind souls.


Sujata Dalvi remembers her late mother and her sacrifices that shaped her life.

Saraswati Shinde

IMAGE: Sujata Dalvi remembers her late mother Saraswati Raghunath Shinde (pictured above) as a hard working and strong lady. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sujata Dalvi

My brother and I were born very late to my parents -- 22 years after my parents' marriage.

There was a lot of age difference between my mother Saraswati Raghunath Shinde and I.

I remember her to be a hard working and strong lady.

My father used to work in the Railways and be away from home on duty.

Although my mother wasn't good at English, she helped us study.

In the early 1970s, she'd sit with us and ensure that we would do our homework well. She'd regularly meet our teachers at school to enquire about our studies and was a gentle mother.

Growing up, she inculcated so many good qualities and habits in both of us which have helped us to face so many adversities in my life.

My father retired from service when my brother and I were in Class 9 and 8 respectively.

Financially, we were in a bad shape, but my mother took to tailoring. She stitched blouses, frocks and dresses and struggled hard so our education would not suffer.

She was an exemplary tailor.

My brother completed his PhD and moved to the US for further education. I completed my graduation and secured a job at BSNL.

Since my mother couldn't complete her education or secure a job, she ensured that I become financially independent.

After I got married and had a son, my parents took care of him and brought him up very well while I went to work.

We lost my mother on June 17, 2017, but I will always be indebted to her. I miss her every day.


Dr Priyanka Sharma salutes her Nanima, the late Krishna Sharma, and her mother Kiran Sharma.

IMAGE: Dr Priyanka Sharma with her Nanima, the late Krishna Sharma. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr Priyanka Sharma

My maternal grandmother, the late Krishna Sharma, lost her husband, my grandfather, when she was 33.

My grandfather, the late Vidhyasagar Sharma, was a chartered accountant in Africa.

With five children to look after, Nanima decided to move to India from Africa. She worked hard as a teacher, and raised all her children with self-esteem and dignity.

My eldest Mamaji is a successful and eminent doctor today.

My mother, Kiran Sharma, holds a master's degree. Although they faced so many hardships, my Nanima and my mother raised me and both my siblings with love.

She kept us grounded and inculcated the importance of studies and hard work in us.

Priyanka Sharma writes about her mother

IMAGE: Priyanka's mother Kiran Sharma with her daughter. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr Priyanka Sharma

I am a doctor by profession, mom to two daughters and I see myself passing on the same virtues to my children.

I realise the importance of my upbringing and my grandmother's and mother's efforts in shaping my life today and my love for them increases manifold.

This is my tribute to the two great mothers, women and human beings!

Love you mummy and Maaji. You are epitome of selfless love, motherhood and strength to all of us!


Dr Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan from London shares the 10 lessons he learned from the four women in his life.

Inspiring women

IMAGE: Dr Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan shared this picture of the Fab Four women who inspire him: Mother-in-law Sushila Rajan, wife Sharanya Rajan, mother Bhuvaneshwari Loganathan and grandmother Ramani Loganathan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan

Today I am recognised as a young scientist and entrepreneur mainly due to my mother and grandmother's guidance, motivation and lessons.

I received great support from my wife and mother-in-law at a crucial point in my career.

Coming from a humble background, having a firm in India and London has been a journey with several lessons. If the fabulous four did not believe in me and guide me, I would have been on the streets.

Thanks to them, I am in a position to support many young women in their education and career through CSR activities.

Ramani Loganathan, my grandmom, had a terrible start to her life. She lost her dad when she was 15 and her husband when she was 21. Raising two daughters was one of the most challenging phases she underwent.

Without a strong education background, she believed in herself, lifted the family and made sure both the daughters got settled in life.

One of her daughters is my mom, Bhuvaneshwari Loganathan, who has played an influential role in my life and career. She met with an accident when I was a child, and everyone felt that was the end of her career.

My mother bounced back, believed in herself and made sure my studies were not affected. She ensured my school and college fees were paid promptly. Now, she runs a charity organisation, Raj Square Charity Foundation, to support many young women to achieve their dreams.

Sushila Rajan, my mother-in-law, believed in me and my abilities when I was at a crucial phase of my career.

I got married to Sharanya Rajan without any hesitation.

Together, their support and motivational talks helped me achieve a PhD at the University of London.

These are 10 life lessons I learned before turning 30 from the fab four:

1. Believe in yourself.
2. Don't compete with anyone. Compete with your own abilities and keep improving.
3. Dream big and work hard towards it. Never give up!
4. Be true to yourself.
5. Your habits define you. Cultivate good habits and spread positivity around you.
6. Never be selfish and be selfless.
7. Humanity is the biggest virtue in life. Show sympathy towards others and support as much as possible.
8. Love everyone around you unconditionally. Every other thing in the world is materialistic. Value human life.
9. Laughing is the best medicine. Things that makes you low – laugh at it and address the issue immediately.
10. Believe in God and walk in his path.


Dr Reeba Robert hails her teacher and research supervisor Dr Jaya Jaise from Kottayam.

IMAGE: "Jaya teacher is an exemplary role model," says Dr Reeba Robert.Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr Reeba Robert

The woman I admire the most is Jaya teacher. She is my M Ed Teacher, the supervising teacher of my M Ed thesis.

She has influenced who I am as a person.

I would describe her as someone who is happy and cheerful.

It does not matter what my mood is before I walk into her classroom, because she will always bring a smile to my face.

She demonstrates kindness and patience to every student in her class. Those are character traits that I feel I have improved upon because of her. She taught me to believe in myself.

I can always go to her to seek advice, or have a friendly conversation.

She has been an exemplary role model.

I can be trustworthy and hardworking, while never losing sight of who I am as an individual. While doing my M Ed thesis, she guides me properly. My topic is entitled 'Educational contributions of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

She told me, 'Reeba, do begin your study and through your writing I will learn about Jiddu Krishnamurti.'

With her full support I successfully completed my thesis.

After completing my thesis, the authorities included Jiddu Krishnamurti in B Ed and M Ed syllabus

The entire credit of this achievement definitely goes to Jaya teacher alone.

This proves why she's a brilliant supervisor.

As a research supervisor, the best thing she does is ask guiding questions so that I articulate my ideas clearly.

She has helped me focus when I needed to and cheers me on when I do it right.

She adjusts herself to the needs of her students.

She has supported me through all stages of my work and allow me to take independent decisions about research.

She would also critique so that I can become a better independent researcher.

She offers emotional support and reassurance as I go through the stages of self doubt and despair at some point.

Teacher, you have impacted my life in a huge and very positive way and I would not be the person I am today without you. I treasure your words in the core of my heart.


Soma Sekhar Pulluru tells us why his daughter inspires him.

Kiranmayi

IMAGE: 'I am amazed by her helping nature and innovative ideas,' Soma Sekhar Pulluru says about his 13-year-old daughter Kiranmayi. Photograph: Kind courtesy Soma Sekhar Pulluru

My elder daughter Kiranmayi Pulluru was born on February 16, 2008. In the past 13 years, I've learned a lot from her.

She was born with a cleft palate defect at birth.

When she has operated in the first year, the courage she displayed was very inspiring.

Whenever I face a problem or feel depressed, I think of this incident and feel inspired.

Instead of celebrating her birthday with cakes, she collected all her pocket money and donated it to an orphanage and old age home in Hyderabad.

I am amazed by her helping nature and her innovative ideas.

Last month, she prepared different designer bath soaps. Her ideas have helped me innovate my business.

At this young age, the level of maturity she displays in handling problems at home inspires me too.

At school, she leads in academics, cultural programmes, science and other activities. In our colony too, she helps other kids learn and participate in various events.

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ULKA KHILARI, SUJATA DALVI, Dr PRIYANKA SHARMA, DR MITHILEYSH SATHIYANARAYANAN, DR REEBA ROBERT, SOMA SEKHAR PULLURU
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