Of woman power

This would have to be for my mother.

She has had the kind of life which has been the kind that novels are written about. I still have to gather the courage to write about her.

She lost her mother when she was just three. And her brother two. Her father married again. To a woman who treated her like the proverbial stepmothers do, like the maid servant of the house. Her stepmother went on to have her own brood of children.

My mother studied, did the housework, grew up. Trained as a teacher. Her father passed away, she took on the mantle of supporting her brothers and sisters. Married when she was in her thirties to my father. It wasn’t a very happy marriage. Enough said. She wouldn’t like me to say more. My father died when she was 42. She had no home, no money and nowhere to go. And me to support. She picked herself up and began taking tuitions to make ends meet. She got a job on compassionate grounds at the bank my father worked at and staff quarters. I grew up. I got married. I moved out. She bought herself a little flat and lives there alone now. She’s 73. Cheerful. Busy. Runs her home on her own. Without even a top servant for the vessels or the sweeping swabbing.

Everytime I see her, I am humbled. And grateful that I was born to a woman like her who might not be famous, or well to do, but has such indomitable strength of spirit that I have no choice but to walk in her footsteps and bolster my own.

Edited to add: And this post won me a mug. Maybe I’ll give it to mom.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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36 Responses to Of woman power

  1. Ruchira says:

    wow !What a role model you have in front of you ! Your mother’s life is truly inspiring ! If god gives me even half of her indomitable spirit I would die happy !

    Like

  2. Iya says:

    humbled. i bow to your mom.

    Like

  3. Phoenixritu says:

    Wow! May I fall to my knees to her! Amazing person, what a great role model to have

    Like

  4. Natasha says:

    Some stories are so clear, they take surprisingly few words to tell.
    I can see your mother as you describe her: 73, cheerful, busy, independent. We all know everyday women who are real heroines. Recognizing their strength and spirit empowers us.
    Thank you for sharing this!
    ~Natasha

    Like

  5. womensweb says:

    Lovely to read, and so empowering. If someone could do this 30 years ago, surely we can too.

    Like

  6. R's Mom says:

    Amazing Kiran..your mom is sure a role model to loads of us

    Like

  7. Gypsy Girl says:

    She sounds awesome! I wish I had met her when i was there!

    Like

  8. sscribbles says:

    I salute your mom for her strength and perhaps that explains how you are able to be what you are Lady K– an insparition for many. She is the best role model I can think of on this women’s day.

    Like

  9. womensweb says:

    Lovely piece, and so inspiring. I do hope we will be hearing many more wonderful stories of wonderful women.

    Like

  10. Swati says:

    My salute to her. Some ppl are just beyond words

    Like

  11. Wow!I bow down to her .
    and this post is such a beautiful gift to your wonderful mother 🙂

    Like

  12. Jayashree says:

    And here am rambling about some paltry issues.This post was like a slap on my face,Kiran. Again, Hats off to your mom.

    Like

  13. sukanyabora says:

    I dont know why but i fought back tears reading this. today is my parents 49th anniversary-they have had their share of troubles but overall, it has been a very successful partnership.

    I read about your mom and i have nothing but respect for her. RESPECT in bold.

    I dont know her at all and will probably not meet her ever but do give her a big hug for me and tell her that she is a huge force, a powerful source inspiration for the rest of us!

    And, yes, she could be luckier to have you as her daughter.

    Like

  14. Anu says:

    Few words, and the indomitable spirit comes out so vividly. Reminds us of the strength that we possess, as a woman. The strength we don’t even acknowledge, or want adulation for. She is the role model. She truly is. Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

  15. shilpadesh says:

    Wow your mom is amazing. Makes me feel guilty about complaining about the small things in life. Hats off to her.

    Like

  16. swathi says:

    Hi Kiran,

    thank you so much for sharing. This was exactly what I needed today. I am struggling with my 5 yr old with his kindergarten transition. He is special needs. This week has been driving me (him as well)nuts. I lost all perspective and was constatly feeling sorry for myself(and him). When I come across things like this is when I start to pickup myself and move ahead.

    She is a real HERO.

    Like

  17. WOW! Thanks for posting this, Kiran. We need such amazing stories of life for us to look at the brighter side of things instead of cribbing.
    My salutes to her.

    Like

  18. Sands says:

    Wow, wow, wow! I truly take a bow to her. When I come across people like her, it truly gives me the opportunity to stop complaining about insignificant stuff and be truly thankful for the life I live 🙂

    Like

  19. Gigi says:

    When I wallow in self pity I’m always given a reality check. At my son’s speech therapy class yesterday met a mom who told me she was bounced from foster home to foster home because no one wanted to adopt her; she had speech delays herself.

    This post and the conversation with M made me really stop feeling sorry for myself this week.

    Like

  20. Prathima says:

    Hats off! I guess our generation ladies will never have the tolerance level our mothers had. When I analyze the way my mother approached a difficult situation in her 20’s is so much different than the way I do it now! We crib about every small thing and they faced so many hurdles just for their loved ones.

    Like

  21. NC says:

    Amazing…hats off to her. Exemplary people who live their lives lost in the crowd. I wish some day you write a novel dedicated to her. I am glad that her story has a happy ending in you and your son. 🙂

    Like

  22. Goofy Mumma says:

    Inspiring indeed! You are simply fortunate to have such a great role model for a mother!

    Like

  23. Kiran Manral says:

    Everyone, overwhelmed. Thanks. She would be most surprised. She would say, I just did what I had to.

    Like

  24. Sonia says:

    Oh Kiran!! Your mother is just amazing!! I wish I could meet her and hug her. Just makes me realize how unnecessarily I crib over immaterial things somedays!

    🙂

    Like

  25. anna says:

    what a truly remarkable woman. what an example for you to follow.
    a real braveheart. god bless.

    Thank you anna

    Like

  26. starsinmeyes says:

    Oh my God, she’s amazing. Hats off to her courage and spirit…an inspiration to us all! Loved this post, you have described such a big life in very few, but very powerful words.

    Words aren’t enough to describe her life.

    Like

  27. Anu says:

    Hi Kiran

    It is heartwarming to read about your mother. An amazing role model.

    Warm wishes

    Anu

    Thank you Anu

    Like

  28. Wow she is truly amazing!

    🙂

    Like

  29. soulmate says:

    Hats off to your Mom… Really amazed by her spirit and courage.. a real role model…

    She truly is.

    Like

  30. Poet Mamma says:

    Hi Kiran,

    Really loved it. Very inspiring.

    Thanks to you I have submitted an entry as well –

    http://poetmamma.blogspot.com/2011/03/essence-of-woman.html

    Also, I am a newbie blogger, and thanks to you and your wonderful posts. They gave me the idea and inspiration to write again.

    http://poetmamma.blogspot.com/2011/03/balancing-act.html

    Am honoured. Thank you.

    Like

  31. JLT says:

    A lady with indomitable spirit. She has much to her credit, doesn’t she? 🙂

    She does.

    Like

  32. Shanta (36AndMildlyProtesting) says:

    What an amazing Mum you have. 🙂 I read a poem today. Feel free if it gets too long to ignore or delete. I am sharing because I appreciate that it feels true to me about this ‘holiday,’ as does your post. ~Shanta

    From Eve’s book I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.

    REFUSER
    From the Lebanese mountains
    To the Kenyan village of El Doret
    We are practicing self-defense
    Versed in Karate, Tai Chi, Judo, and Kung Foo
    We are no longer surrendering to our fate.

    Now, we are the ones who walk our girl friends home from school.
    And we don’t do it with macho. We do it with cool.

    Our mothers are the Pink Sari Gang
    Fighting off the drunken men
    With rose pointed fingers and sticks in
    Uttar Pradesh.
    The Peshmerga women
    in the Kurdish mountains
    with barrettes in their hair
    and AK47’s instead of pocket books.

    We are not waiting anymore to be taken and retaken.

    We are the Liberian women sitting
    in the Africa sun blockading the exits
    til the men figure it out.

    We are the Nigerian women
    babies strapped to out backs
    occupying the oil terminals of Chevron.
    We are the women of Kerala
    who refused to let Coca Cola
    privatize our water.
    We are Cindy Sheehan showing up in Crawford without a plan.
    We are all those who forfeited husbands boyfriends and dates
    Cause we were married to our mission.
    We know love comes from all directions and in many forms.
    We are Malalai who spoke back to the Afghan Loya Jurga
    And told them they were “raping warlords” and
    She kept speaking even when they kept
    trying to blow up her house.
    And we are Zoya whose radical mother was shot dead when Zoya was only a child so she was fed on revolution which was stronger than milk

    And we are the ones who kept and loved our babies
    even though they have the faces of our rapists.

    We are the girls who stopped cutting ourselves to release the pain
    And we are the girls who refused to have our clitoris cut
    And give up our pleasure.

    We are:
    Rachel Corrie who wouldn’t couldn’t move away from the Israeli tank.
    Aung San Suu Kyi who still smiles after years of not being able to leave her room.
    Anne Frank who survives now cause she wrote down her story.
    We are Neda Soltani gunned down by a sniper in the streets of
    Tehran as she voiced a new freedom and way
    And we are Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6th movement in Egypt
    Who twittered an uprising.

    We are the women riding the high seas to offer
    Needy women abortions on ships.
    We are women documenting the atrocities
    in stadiums with video cameras underneath our Burqas.
    We are seventeen and living for a year in a tree
    And laying down in the forests to protect wild oaks.
    We are out at sea interrupting the whale murders.
    We are freegans, vegans, trannies
    But mainly we are refusers.
    We don’t accept your world
    Your rules your wars
    We don’t accept your cruelty and unkindness.
    We don’t believe some need to suffer for others to survive
    Or that there isn’t enough to go around
    Or that corporations are the only and best economic arrangement
    And we don’t hate boys, okay?
    That’s another bullshit story.

    We are refusers
    But we crave kissing.
    We don’t want to do anything before we’re ready
    but it could be sooner than you think
    and we get to decide
    and we are not afraid of what is pulsing through us.
    It makes us alive.

    Don’t deny us, criticize us or infantilize us.
    We don’t accept checkpoints, blockades or air raids
    We are obsessed with learning.
    On the barren Tsunamied beaches of Sri Lanka
    In the desolate and smelly remains
    Of the lower ninth
    We want school.
    We want school.
    We want school.

    We know if you plan too long
    Nothing happens and things get worse and that
    Most everything is found in the action
    and instinctively we get that the scariest thing
    isn’t dying, but not trying at all.

    And when we finally have our voice
    and come together
    when we let ourselves gather the knowledge
    when we stop turning on each other
    but direct our energy towards what matters
    when we stop worrying about
    our skinny ass stomachs or too frizzy hair
    or fat thighs
    when we stop caring about pleasing
    and making everyone so incredibly happy-
    We got the Power.

    If
    Janis Joplin was nominated the ugliest man on her campus
    And they sent Angela Davis to jail
    If Simone Weil had manly virtues
    And Joan of Arc was hysterical
    If Bella Abzug was eminently obnoxious
    And Ellen Sirleaf Johnson is considered scary
    If Arundhati Roy is totally intimidating
    and Rigoberta Menchu is pathologically intense
    And Julia Butterfly Hill is an extremist freak
    Call us hysterical then
    Fanatical
    Eccentric
    Delusional
    Intimidating
    Eminently obnoxious
    Militant
    Bitch
    Freak
    Tattoo me
    Witch
    Give us our broomsticks
    And potions on the stove
    We are the girls
    who are aren’t afraid to cook.

    Like

  33. Pippa says:

    What a lovely post – I can picture your mother happy in her own flat despite all her hardships. I hope she gets to read your tribute to her. (I’d love your thoughts on our test site for http://www.storyofmum.com if you ever have a moment and would like to share any more stories about your mother…)Thank you for sharing this story.

    Like

  34. Gauri Vij says:

    Dear Kiran,
    I meant to write to you when i read about your father. A lot of what you wrote resonated with me…as I had lost my father when I was very young. But then I felt all overwhelmed and was swamped with madness at work so let it go.
    But this time I cannot. Your mother sounds incredible. How lucky you are to have her and she you.
    much love
    gauri

    Like

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