“We are each the authors of our own lives, Emma. We live in what we have created. There is no way to shift the blame and no one else to accept the accolades”
― Barbara Taylor Bradford, A Woman of Substance
As I read through these lines, my heart made me ponder and I wondered where my life is heading to? Sitting in the hospital bed, casted from toe to waist in cruel stiff plasters, one palm folded into fist and tied in tight bandage and head wrapped in white cotton bandage with stiffness at one side. “Am I an author of my own life”? I asked to self.
Am I living in what I created? Did I create this? I asked myself, watching the ants march outside the window. At that time my plaster or the ants attacking a bowl of sugar candies did not bother me much as this question. I was a road accident victim, struggling to piece up my shattered life which I have not written probably but living definitely.
So what if I have not authored it yet? I will now charter my life in a way I would like it to be. If nothing, let me be strong enough to lead on my own terms, some ways at least. So tomorrow before I ask my life what you have given me, my life should have a better answer of what this woman is doing for it.
I called up my doctor and asked when can I start walking? When are they going to make me stand? Are they honest enough every time they tell me I can walk again or they just pacify me only to go behind doors and tell my parents in a hush-hush tone that I may not be able to lead a normal life again?
Dr told me that I can walk. We are awaiting my bones recuperate back from compound fracture. For that I need to start eating well and it’s just a matter of time when they will start the trial. “How about the artificial foot? You said you will get me one and then I can walk” I asked. “Friend, your residual limb is weak, it has got multiple fracture and you are just healing from a plastic surgery, we cannot risk you at this moment” said he.
“But when is the right time doctor” I asked. “I have been confided to bed for almost 2 months now. I have forgotten what walking is”. I want to stand, stand on my own feet and I really hate those who come and tell me that I am gone for life. I want to run away from them”.
And I did. Soon doctors found a solution to kick start my re walking process. It was tough and strength curdling esp at the age of 12-13 yrs, I must tell. But if I haven’t tried then, if I didn’t chartered on that path then, trust me; I could have never done it. We become strongest in face of adversity. It’s in pain that we are closest to god and he whisper into ears- his wisdom. I took an oath that I am still trying to live by-
1. I will be independent, not letting disability stop me or gain me favors.
2. Win people with deeds and sincerity and no pretense. Abhor anyone who sympathizes but delight who encourage.
3. Would not let gender come between my ambitions, goals & values.
4. Strive to be a woman of substance.
Yes ostracism did not spare me either. It came and it continues to come in varied format. It shook me, continue to shake me but couldn't stir me, dissolving into self.
I took inspiration from different things like ants who persists till the last cube of sugar, the bird who push her kids to fly, woman who scaled the mountain, Maya Angelou' poems and above all my God. I suffered ostracism silently, sometime I made noise too and often I fought back. I cried in seclusion only to gather my strength & fight back. Yes I have become a fighter, I fought for cause where I saw disconnects. I risked my “loving and everybody’s favorite” repute to “ferocious independent thinking” women but I never left what I continued to believe- trying to be a woman of substance. I hold close to my integrity as I hold my broken foot and continue walking.
I was 12 then and today I am 32. Life has seen many struggles and it still does so. I live alone, faraway from my family, in cities across India where the most able females have shrugged to go and live. I dared to step in men's world, domain without taking any undue advantage, worked shoulder to shoulder to prove merit.
There were times when people left me and moved ahead. They would make faces seeing my shoes, crutch, sound of artificial limb. Some would avoid an eye contact so that I do not ask them to include me in their group for lunch or movie. A lot of these people would come knocking my doors at a night before exams asking my help so that they can score passing marks. I have left my studies to address their worries, helped them prepare but next day they will fleet away.
Yes, I made mistakes and I continue to make them. I however, try not to repeat them but learn from them.
I remember those times when my doctors will take me around to other patients and ask me to talk to them, encourage them and a term they coined- spread an infectious smile. That boosted my motivations further.
I am not sure whether I can be called “woman of substance” as that is a very big honor. But I often ask myself- Am I a woman of substance and how can I become one. Welcome life. I am trying and striving to be one- Woman of substance.