With Women's Day coming up on March 8, we invited readers to write in and tell us about the woman they admire the most. Here are the next few responses:
First up we have an entry from Deepti Shrivastava:
As a child you always try to show your parents that you are someone who can take care of yourself. But you forget that your parents have gone through the same phase and have more experience than you.
And if you happen come from a village or a small town and end up in a big city, you begin to feel your parents won't understand you because of the generation gap and their lack of exposure to life in a city.
I went through this. I used to feel whatever decision I took was correct...and very often circumstances would swing in my favour. For instance, if despite my mother's warnings I'd go out in heavy rains, something good would happen to me. So gradually I have started ignoring my mom's opinions.
When I moved to a big city, away from home I was little happy since I would get to live my life in my own way. Once my mom called me and said she was planning to come by to see me. I was happy but was also scared since I wasn't sure if she would be able to adjust to the big city life.
She came over and spent a whole month with me. Contrary to what I was expecting, she was comfortable being with me and so was I. I can't forget how she would prepare dinner for me. When I'd return from work, we'd spend over two to three hours chatting on all things under the sun. That's when I realised how modern she was in her thinking...something I could never understand when I was a child.
It is only now that I realise that one's mom is one's best friend even if she challenges every decision you take. She just knows one language and that is the language of love.
Love you Mom.
This Women's Day, write in to us about the one woman who has exerted the most profound influence on you. Send your stories to email@example.com (subject line: 'The Woman I Admire') along with a photograph of the two of you, if possible and we'll publish the best entries right here.
'She taught us how to be better people'
Next is this entry from Geetha Unni:
This is a tribute to my beloved mother who I admire the most.
My mother was simple, yet modern. She got married at an early age when she was still studying...something she felt sad about.
Right from the beginning, she suffered a lot -- my father didn't keep good health, for instance. And he finally died on the way to a clinic. It was she who brought the body from the clinic back home with help of friends some friends...something I felt was very bold.
After my father died, she brought up my brother and me and provided for us till we completed our studies.
Whenever she faces a problem, she solves it herself and doesn't bother us with it. Unlike many women of her generation, she is very fluent in English and even though she never really studied a lot, she writes a lot of stories and has learnt two other languages besides our mother tongue. Whenever she has the time, she spends it in reading.
When she's with her grandchildren, my mother joins them in their discussions and has very modern views about life.
To this day she travels alone and keeps in touch with her friends and relative through telephones and letters.
Even after we set up our homes, she came and taught us how to run them. She taught us how to be better people and always treated her daughter-in-law like her own child
She is the woman I admire the most.
'Never once do I remember her saying that she was tired or needed rest'
Here is what Deepak Gupta has to say about the woman who inspired him most:
The woman I admire the most in my life is my mother. I can never put down in words how much she means to me.
All through my childhood I have seen her working hard, stretching her limits and sacrificing for her family and children.
She is a career woman. There were times she would wake up at 4:30 am, do all the household chores and
finally leave for work, which was almost two hours away.
In the evening too after she came back home tired, she wouldn't rest till she served us dinner. Never once do I remember her saying that she was tired or needed rest.
I work in another city and reach home quite late. She wakes up and cooks fresh meals for me.
Whenever I'm down, she is always there to support me and listen to me.
The kind of dedication and zeal she has always inspired me to keep moving forward.
Thank you 'Bebe' for always being there for me.
On the occasion of International Women's Day I take the opportunity to salute my mother and would
like to dedicate a song for her -- Meri Ma Pyari Ma...Mama from Dasvidaniya.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'Nothing came easy to her, but she never gave up'
Here is Bajeerao Patil's story:
My mother was born in 1936 in a remote village in rural Maharashtra, India. She had four siblings, three sisters and a brother.
Unfortunately, her father died before she turned 13 and the second tragedy occurred when her brother died of fever in his early 20s.
My grandmother and her four daughters were completely shattered but the ruthless people showed no mercy. Under some unscrupulous law prevailing in those days, my grandmother's farms were snatched from her because she did not have a male heir.
My grandmother struggled to make ends meet. She worked day and night to feed her precious daughters.
During the day, she worked as a farm laborer and at night, with the help of her daughters she cleaned grains for those landlords. She couldn't afford to send her daughters to school so they did not learn to read or write.
They desperately wanted to attend school but they weren't fortunate enough to go to school. Life was tough.
The male-dominated society made their life a living hell. Therefore, my grandmother felt compelled to get her three eldest daughters married even before they turned 18.
Luckily, all four sisters were beautiful that made it somewhat easier for her to arrange their marriages. Thereafter, she was left with only her youngest daughter, who was my mother.
My grandmother then began searching for a suitable man to marry her youngest daughter. She wanted her daughter's husband to join the family. She didn't want her daughter to go to live with her husband's family as prevailing custom.
Instead she wanted her future son-in-law to come and live with them. Even after massive search she was unable to find a man who was willing to do that because they were poor and could not provide a dowry for her.
Ultimately, with the help of one of her son-in-laws she found the man who agreed to marry her daughter without the dowry, but he refused to live at my grandmother's house as it was below his dignity.
Reluctantly, the proposal was accepted. My mother was 24 and my father 30 when they got married.
My mother was a very beautiful woman and a caring and loving wife to my father. My father was a wrestler and owned several farms. He worked very hard to feed his large family that included his four brothers, their families and ours.
My parents had eight children and my father wanted all of us to work on the farms because he always needed extra help, but my mother insisted that we go to school and be educated. In those days, girls rarely attended school but my mother saw to it that not only did her three sons attended college, her daughters did too.
She said that she had always longed to attend school and although she had not had that opportunity her children would, and they would be able to make careers for themselves. She worked very hard for all of us cooking, cleaning and working the fields.
My father though a very honest, hard working and dedicated family man was a male chauvinist and had a short temper.
Living in our combined family was not an easy task. My mother suffered verbal abuse from my father and also from his brothers and mother.
As head of the family, my father was trying his best to keep us all together; some of his brothers didn't want to stay and were looking for a reason to leave and the easiest target for them was my mother.
Two of my uncles always criticised the food she cooked.
One night my mother was finishing the cleaning and I was waiting for her to finish so we could go to another block where we slept. But before she was done my youngest uncle entered the kitchen drunk and rudely demanded to be served dinner.
My mother reignited the firewood, heated the food again, prepared his platter and served it to him. I was watching him closely because I knew what was coming. I was 13 years old and had seen him being violent with her in the past.
He did not touch the food and still complained that it was cold as ice, grabbed the platter and hurled it in her direction. When he realised that he had missed her he grabbed the water bowl and threw that at her.
She ducked and firmly told him to stop throwing stuff at her. He didn't like her talking back at him and he started walking in her direction.
Seeing the danger, I went and stood between them. He then decided to hit me with the firewood when my mother intervened, "Don't you dare do that; his father will kill you if you touch his son."
He froze in his tracks. I really wanted him to hit me because that was the only way I knew he would learn a lesson from my father. I was about to call him alcoholic coward but before I could say those words my mother held my hand and quietly walked away.
The moment I saw my father I told him what happened, he was obviously upset and didn't like his brother's cowardly behaviour but he also blamed my mother for serving cold food.
Knowing that wasn't true I lost my cool and mustered the courage to tell my father that his brother was a crook and a liar because the food was as hot as anyone would want. Visibly shocked my father told me that I was crossing my limits, I should keep quiet and go to sleep.
Later, when I was sleeping my mother came in my room, sat on my bed and said that I should not have told my father about the incident and I should not have called my uncle names.
My father was very upset and wasn't going to sleep all night. She said that I didn't have to try to protect her she was capable of protecting herself; if she wanted she would have hit my uncle back but she didn't do it because it would have brought disgrace to my father and he would have been upset for days.
My uncle was drunk and it wasn't difficult for her to handle him but that would have caused my father lots of stress and headache and that was the only reason she was tolerating all the nonsense.
She kept saying that sometimes you have to sacrifice your peace of mind for your loved ones and that my father was a very nice man, he was like a jackfruit, rough from outside and soft inside.
You have to have patience and don't have to make mountains out of molehills. I looked at her in disbelief and said, "Akka (the entire village called her Akka or sister) but he was lying about the food being cold and Bappa (the entire village called him Bappa or God) also tried to blame you." She said, "You think too much. You are still a child, you don't have to worry about me and I want you to stay focused on your studies. I trust your father he will do right when time is right. So please don't say anything that will upset your father. He loves all of you and you see how hard he works for all of you to be fed. Will you please always respect him?"
I just nodded and went back to sleep.
In the morning she asked me to carry my father's breakfast and water to the field where he was working. She noticed that I was reluctant. "What's the matter? Don't you want to carry this food for your father?"
"No," I stutter, "I...I don't like him."
"My God, why are you saying that? What's wrong with you?"
"I heard everything that he said to you, the last night. He told you to be nice to his brother who is liar and you didn't say anything back. Why?" I looked in her eye.
"You won't understand, my son. Just let that go. Don't hold onto it, it won't do you any good."
"When I grow up I am going to kill my uncle." I said while picking up the basket containing the breakfast that she had carefully packed for my father.
"Don't speak like that. It is not a good thing to say. You will have to do something about your anger, my son. Now go and be nice to your father. Will you?" She looked at me lovingly.
I nodded smiling.
When I reached the fields, my father was busy harvesting. He didn't notice me. I looked at him closely and for the first time I noticed his sunburned skin. He was sweating like a pig and didn't have time to wipe the sweat. He always would start working early in the mornings when the entire village was still asleep.
He believed in getting up early and going to bed early. I felt bad for my dad; it was early morning but the temperature was already rising.
It was too hot and harvesting rice crop was making him itch all over his body but evidently it didn't bother him.
Suddenly, I remembered my mother's word "be nice to him" and at that moment my heart filled with lots of love for him.
I softly called out, "Bappa!"
He looked up and said, "I knew she would send you with my breakfast today."
I did not understand what he was saying.
Confused, I asked, "What do you mean?"
"Nothing, it's about your mother's wisdom."
I didn't understand the word wisdom then but do understand it now.
My mother went through a lot, nothing came easy to her, she always had to struggle to get things but she never gave up and I guess I inherited that quality from her.
Recently, she had a stroke, the stroke left her half-paralysed but she hasn't given up. She is struggling and doing everything her neurologist tells her to do.
She is still hoping to get back on her feet and be independent again. She was always positive in her attitude and I know she will remain positive until she breathes her last.
For her, it was always about our father and us. Her children always remained her first priority.
After my father's death -- he died of cancer in 1989 -- she was completely shattered but soon bounced back and took charge of the household affairs and was running everything smoothly until my brother got married in 2005.
She is a wonderful mother and a human being. She taught us to enjoy freedom and also be responsible for our actions. She taught us how to love, respect and enjoy and sacrifice for others. I hope every mother has the qualities of my mother.
'What began as a casual friendship grew into something larger'
Next is this entry from Raj Kancham:
I've always wondered how it is possible for a woman to influence a person's life. After all we are each our own person, groomed by both our parents and our teachers. How is it that anyone can get influenced by a woman and walk their life's path?
This question always haunted me until the day I met someone
What began as a casual friendship, grew into something larger and she became someone with whom I could share my happiness and sorrow.
At times I seek her as a mentor, coach and well-wisher. Maybe beyond one's mother (who nurtures and teaches love and care) and a teacher (who brings discipline and mannerism) you need an add-on drive to carve the niche for yourself and be you deserve to be.
I follow in on her footsteps with no male ego and I accept that there is always a hidden wave that drives you to excel in what makes you who you are today.
And that special kudos goes to those women who are hidden behind the curtains and the miracles they perform.
If women can be a reason for your today, they can also be a reason for your future.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'She donated one of her kidneys to me'
And finally, here is Manjula Ketharaju paying tribute to her mother:
I can only think of my mother as the ultimate gold standard for what an ideal mix of wife/mother/professional should be.
She has done things for me that very few mothers can or would do in their lifetime for their children. My mother gave me life twice over!
I had a horrendous pregnancy with so many complications that I lost count. My mother is an experienced obstetrician and retired as the Director of Medical Education in Andhra Pradesh. She put all her 33 years of knowledge and experience to the test to try and save my child and me. She did not sleep even a wink and looked after me every single minute and pulled me through a living nightmare.
Unfortunately, I ended up with failed kidneys and needed a transplant and my mother did not hesitate even a second. She donated one of her kidneys to me so that I could live a normal life and look after my child, who had multiple problems.
Till my child was two, my mother took care of her as I was too ill to do it myself. I remember once, barely six weeks after our kidney transplant operation, I was so weak that I could not walk properly and my mother literally carried me to the bed with a bandage on her side still fresh from the wound from where they had taken out her kidney.
My mother always put me first during a time when she herself had enormous pain.
Today I am back on my feet and a practicing doctor myself all because of the immense sacrifice my mother made for me. As for my mother, she has gone back to her life as a wife/mother/mother-in-law/grandmother/obstetrician and enjoying every minute of it!
If you are looking to see what an inspiring woman looks like then just look up Dr Ketharaju Sarojini Devi at Habsiguda and you need not look any further!
I love you Amma, now and forever.