Ever wondered why we have Superman but not Superwoman?
We’ve grown up hearing, reading, and watching stories about Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc. There are other equivalents too in different languages. But all/most are male.
The answer is simple. They are fictitious. The real heroes are women. They don’t wear capes. They don’t scale skyscrapers. They don’t fly. They are regular people who think and act differently from most of us. I’ve been lucky to know three – one from each decade.
I will begin with the one I have known for the longest period of time. Though our families knew each other from before, I remember her from 1980 because by then I was old enough to form an impression.
As a child, my memories of her are shaped by her infinite power of care and compassion. Along with her siblings, she grew up with pets and children of the staff attending to her family. She cared for them as much or more than she cared for her siblings. Her ability to feel and act for them (and others) is beyond anyone else I know. And that has remained a defining feature of her personality. Very few can think and feel like Lalee. She starts where others finish.
It’s not like she has a lot of free time. She manages her responsibilities toward her family and finds enough time to help others. Most of it is not even sought. She does what she does because she feels it. And God knows how much she can.
When I came to Delhi to find work, it was an alien, big city-state. For a small-town lad on his own, it can be intimidating. I was lucky to find a colleague (now a friend for life) within a year of migrating. Her name is Monica but I call her Max. Her ability for empathy (and other remarkable virtues) is maximum.
She became my 24X7 helpline. Every city has a phone number a citizen can dial in case of an emergency. I dial Monica. The rest she does. I have many friends and colleagues I can reach out to when I need something. But among the first few numbers I punch on my phone is her. The response is immediate. And I am only one of the several contacts who reaches out to her. Her list is long.
The year 1999 saw my dear friend Gaurav find Meenakshi – his better half. Gaurav insists she is his best half. And I don’t disagree. You wouldn’t too if you know her.
Y2K is when Meenakshi switched from being a dear friend’s wife to a bosom pal. Even after so many years, she finds new ways to amaze me. The corporate HR lexicon uses the phrase far exceeds expectations for exceptional performers. Meenakshi has made it a habit of exceeding expectations by far, year after year. And not just mine.
Her warmth and affection are limitless. So is her ability to feel for others. I am blessed to be one of the many she cares about.
What makes them special
Lalee Patnaik, Monica Narula & Meenakshi Mohanty are all ordinary people like you and me. But they think and react extraordinarily. They help people in their everyday life, just like that. Not as a social service or a philanthropic activity. But as part of their daily routine.
All three are self-content and selfless. There’s a genuineness in each of them that’s palpable. They expect nothing in return. They don’t bat an eyelid before helping others. All of this comes naturally to them.
If you know one of them, you are sorted. I know all three. God knows I am lucky.
I have always received from them much more than I can ever give. And I know the same’s the case with most others who know them. Not that it matters to them. The joy of giving means more to them than anything else in the world.
Why should you care?
This is not an International Women’s Day post. The day when women are acknowledged, written about, and celebrated. The purpose of my writing is to share two takeaways.
The first is to dispel a misconception: Can a woman do it?
If you’ve heard this line as I’ve, it’s high time to bust this myth.
The extent and quantum of the individual capacity of these lovely ladies to think and act far exceeds some of the ablest men I know.
They outthink others. There’s no limit to their thoughts and actions.
I’ve highlighted three individuals in this post. The universe has many more. In every town and city. They make our planet a better place.
I’m sure you have your own amazing angels. My guess is some, if not all, are women. They may be in your family, neighbourhood, workplace, or in your city.
Just being around them is invigorating. There is so much to learn from them.
I often think it’d still be a lot if I could do a fraction of what they do. And I’d be a much better version of myself. If each of us imbibes just one trait from the angels we know, how much better can we be?
We must acknowledge and celebrate our angels. That’s the least we can do for those who have made it their passion to be there for others. Let’s treasure them.
And count our blessings.