A grand -woman of substance
by Vivek Hande
There was a lot of hype recently regarding Women’s Day. Women have established themselves and proven their mettle in every sphere of life. The Modern woman of today is second to none and perhaps better than many of their male counterparts in their chosen fields. It is something that we, as men , have learnt to accept.
But , is it really only today ,that women have come into their own ?Women have always been a force to reckon with . I think back and reflect on the life and times of my late grandmother and realize that she was a woman of substance, if ever there was one. She was married when she was eleven . Her husband , my grandfather was only a few years older. My grandmother , Dodda (short for Doddamma) as we called her was never formally schooled or tutored. She taught herself the ways of life and much more as she moved to various corners of the country with my engineer grandfather.
She was a fast learner and had an amazing ability for languages. She learnt to read and write with considerable fluency, Kannada, Bengali , Marathi , Telegu and Hindi . She could hold her own in Tamil , Bhojpuri and manage a bit of Malayalam as well. Her linguistic abilities never ceased to amaze me. She raised four children, often single –handedly ,as my grandfather had to go across the county on work for prolonged periods. She realized the value of education and encouraged her children including her two daughters to study and aspire for higher learning. She wanted to equip them better tan what she was to face the world.
She was a walking treasure trove of recipes across the country and always willing to learn and try something new. My wife always joked with her and told her that they ought to compile the recipes into a book and Tarla Dalal all the way to the bank! Though , not formally educated , she had an amazing grasp of numbers. She could calculate interest rates and chalk out the dividend due to her on deposits made by my grandfather. Her photographic memory allowed her to ask my mother to send reminders on the due dates, if dividend cheques were not received on time. She was a walking accountant and calculator and a small computer rolled into one ! She just had an intuitive feel for numbers.
She read extensively in all languages and read on diverse subjects and an esoteric range of authors. She devoured her Kannada and Hindi newspapers and had strong views on every subject and could hold her own in any conversation. She was game for adventure and visited us at Bhutan and Port Blair(where I was stationed at different times) and wanted to take on what ever excitement the places had to offer. Her frail health notwithstanding , she was ready for any kind of action.
She is no more . But in many ways , she is still very much around. Whenever I am stuck or down and out and in a fix , I think of her irrepressible spirit and her determination and her ability to be unfazed, whatever the nature of the problem. More often than not, I am able to lift myself and get on. She , most certainly was a woman of substance . A toast to the indomitable spirit of the women of the world!!