March 8, 2013

[Reflections] A Story of Two Women

As wishes pour in for Women's day, my thoughts turn to two women who have taught me all about life, with their own. You may wonder why it's 'Story' instead of 'Stories', as you will know in just a bit, that they are two very different individuals. Almost polar opposites, you might say! But their story is indeed one and here it is...

One was born in a remote village. Another was born in a well-known city. One grew up surrounded by people dabbling with ploughs, amidst mud and stones, harvesting food for the body. Another grew up surrounded by people dabbling with pens, amidst books and words, harvesting food for the mind. As they were growing up, one saw relatives of her father fighting for tiny pieces of land and one saw friends of her father, fighting over points-of-view! And so they grew up, with their strikingly different flavors.

As Daughters
Both had fathers, who loved their daughters and understood that the best thing he could give her was an education. Striving through a lot of hardship, the father in the village, put his only daughter through graduation and her education turned out to be in the practical domain of Economics. Another father, perhaps only struggling on the point of safety of letting his daughter study in a city, put her through graduation and her education was in spiritual domain of Tamil Literature. Economics sharpened the practicality of one's childhood experiences. Tamil made another delve deeper into the humanity of her childhood experiences. Both became much admired and much loved teachers.

As Wives
Then, one day, one married the man, who was to be my father. The other, married the man, who was to be my father-in-law. One was love-after-marriage and the other, love-before-marriage. Both men were atheists. My flexible mother went along with my father's principle of not believing. But my firm mother-in-law went deeper into her religious faith.

Life keeps us on our individual tracks in tiny, small ways too. My mother was the one who took care of all the finances and managed the home. With her ability to plan, organize and actually do any amount of physical work, she was my father's equal in the physical domain. My mother-in-law was a thinker and a creator. With her prowess in tamil philosophy and her creativity, she was my father-in-law's equal in the mental domain. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder to a man in a man's world, is never an easy thing and they both did that with excellence, in their own ways.

As Mothers
The practical one had two daughters and the spiritual one, two sons. In their individual happy lives, tragedy struck in different ways. One was sudden and immense, with fate striking a blow of death and taking away my father prematurely. There was my mother, with two young daughters, tearfully standing at the end of a road. How was she to be the father and the mother, in providing for her daughters and protecting them in this violent world?

Another tragedy was gradual and unnoticeable. For you cannot be a prolific writer of 50+ books and a lyricist of 5,000+ lyrics and also, be there all the time, for your family. It wasn't my father-in-law's fault. It was also a blow of fate, striking him with fame. My mother-in-law was increasingly alone and had to nurture the minds of these two young boys, all by herself. How was she to be the father and the mother, in disciplining her sons, in bringing them up as good men in this tricky world?

And how they showed the world that they could! Life had already given the skills they needed for their respective journeys. It was about harnessing those with a deep perception. My mother brought her daughters up, with her excellent financial planning through every step of the way, giving them a good education and marrying them off happily. My mother-in-law brought her sons up, with the best possible values and strong minds, making them such men that the world now looks at them, not just with awe, but with love.

Still, you don't get to go through life's hardships without getting yourself a few rough edges. Sometimes, I don't understand the negativity in my mother's lack-of-trust in people and have fights with her, on this count. In a few moments, it all melts in the understanding that these quick judgements of people and situations have protected me at many points in life. Also, at times, I cannot accept the unquestioning religious beliefs of my mother-in-law and have my disagreements with her. Then, I realize that it is because of this same strong, unmoving faith, that she conquered the odds of her life and instilled positivity in her son, my husband. As I observe and absorb the two very different qualities of these women, it dawns that this is life's way of teaching me, balance.

Truly glad that life has made me know, love and be inspired by these two women. To have leaned on that down-to-earth, patient rock of a mother and to have wafted in that reassuring breeze of a mother-in-law. My salute to their womanhood!


  1. the final pic saya it all :) gud one

  2. "To have leaned on that down-to-earth, patient rock of a mother and to have wafted in that reassuring breeze of a mother-in-law." Excellent lines! Landed here via Madhan's tweet.. had no idea how amazing a writer he has in his wife! Keep the posts coming, Nandini :)

  3. A Story of Two Women is "Awesome". Thanks for the Post.

  4. This was a beautiful article and i really enjoyed reading every line...

  5. Great article!!! No words to appreciate!!

  6. ஒவ்வொரு வரியிலும் உண்மை
    இந்த காலை நேரத்தில் என் இதயத்தை
    வருடி விட்டு மனதைஎன் அம்மாவிடம்
    அழைத்துச் சென்றுவிட்டது இந்தக் கதை!

  7. An interesting read.Neatly and Beautifully written.I went searching for the dictionary to know the meaning of a few words(though i did a Google for it :) ).I learnt few new words in this process.
    It gives a perspective of how the events in your life make it what it is NOW.
    Like your insight about the happening in LIFE.
    All your articles are truly fascinating.

  8. beautifully penned .....

  9. really inspiring mam!!!!choice of words r amazin..excellent comparision!!!!ofcourse, 2 different striking flavors...

  10. Thanks so much for penning your appreciation. Touched by your words. Moved to keep writing.

  11. oh.. who is that that women in little bed with charming eyes & cheeks.. that little women do deserves a story..

  12. Anonymous That isn't a little woman, it's a little man - My son and their grandson. I do wish him a many-stories-worth interesting life ahead. :-)

  13. Excellent Portrayal By you. Inspiring People. I have read something about Madam Ponmani Vairamuthu in Vairamuthu Sir Autobiography. Inspiring Woman. Your mother is also equally inspiring. Practically Life is very difficult for any solo parent. Claps Claps Claps. I do wish if i could have seen their faces in this photo.

  14. Very nice write up... Excellant..But i have one serious doubt...

    //////One was love-after-marriage and the other, love-before-marriage//////

    Can we use the term, "Love-before marriage"? Won't it mean there is no love after marriage?

    1. Vijayakumar G :-) Thanks for looking so minutely into my article. I had used the two terms only to differentiate what's generally called love and arranged marriage. No other comment on what was before or after the point of marriage. :-)

  15. Very beautifully written... :) And inspiring

  16. One of my friends , who've got love marriage, used to start his old stories like "நாங்க லவ் பண்ணிட்டு இருந்தப்ப,...." which seems weird... he mentioned the love as "past tense"....

    I presumed the same logic in your terms, that is why I doubted. I'm sorry , if anything commented wrongly.

    Anyhow thanks for your reply.


  17. nice description of those wonderful journey,looking forward for more from you,mam.

  18. I am enthralled by your clear diction and amazed at your strong impression of the two women who are very close to your heart and life. I am very proud of you Nandini, dear - everything speaks very high of your parentage - kudos to them.

  19. Awesome ma'am !!!! Very well written...

  20. Hi Nandhini I love your blog and the way you write. Just happened to read @ this and reminded of your son Haiku.

  21. Hi, As always you have been doing a fabulous job in portraying real time experience into an amazing article that keeps me read it over and over again. Kudos. I never knew you had sister...


  22. Superb Article.. Great Choice of Words... An inspiring one for all the Women...

  23. Enjoyed reading your article. Beautiful words and great thinking. Hope to read more of your writing.