On Women’s day particularly and every day, I am reminded of two life stories. My mom’s and mine. Hers more glorious, troubles that cannot be understood in modern times, betrayed sometimes by her own, shunning all social stigma of being an abused child bride, to walking away from that relationship not knowing what it entails, to self-studying until middle school when her own father hadn’t seen past 5th grade, being bruised working in paddy fields, in below poverty situations going to bed empty stomach to becoming a primary grade teacher to the most revered professor in United Andhra Pradesh, publishing hundreds of newspaper articles, innumerous radio talks, writer of text books for State syllabus including ‘Mana Badi’, being one of the first doctorates in Women Education and Girl Child uplifment, to raising me almost single-handedly —- the saga is never ending.
Irony of it all, she continues to be at the receiving end of personality penalty being a strong woman; Deemed as aggressive, arrogant, bossy and what not, being deprived of promotions, accolades and in many cases basic dignity. Yet, she cares less at 80 and believes in serving for the better good of women and girls in need. I am my mother. Character assassination and social inequity continue to haunt me even today. But, I became who my mom believed I could become, in many ways breaking stereotypes (heck, even wrote to an Encyclopedia with the help of a mentor), standing fearless, uncaring for any setbacks or criticism, writing poetry and following her footsteps carefully, giving back to the community on my own time, mentoring 3 women each year since 2015, coaching junior and senior high school girls who have stars in their eyes and are eager to be the future of the world to making a name in a brutal, competitive environment and quietly but surely adding value to this ethos one day at a time.
My mom’s palaver hadn’t ended and mine began. Amongst the two of us we have 12 published anthologies (I’ve realized writing had a less fashionable perception), a 450-page autobiography that she’s releasing this 19th, 2 books in the works for me, a high profile full-time job that demands energy in quantum and tests my fortitude as a servant leader, speaking events, mentoring and coaching, being a devoted homemaker, raising a parent — rising above average human perfection has become a necessity. She and I, along with countless other women, we chose to invest with, thwart mistaken moralities every second, and relentlessly prove that, “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.”