Women are multi-dimensional by nature. I’ve seen many of them around me, who are simultaneously playing different roles in life, mother, daughter, wife, sister and they, are equally proficient in all those roles. Not only that, they have established themselves in the outside world also, professionally. One of the most accomplished women I’ve ever seen in my life is Dr Sulabha D’souza, my mother’s childhood friend.
D’souza aunty, as we used to call her, was a rebel since her childhood. To much annoyance of her father, she decided to pursue her chosen career, she wanted to become a doctor so that she could help those people who didn’t have enough money to go for speciality treatment. And a doctor she did become. Not only that, though she belonged to an extremely conservative Hindu Marathi family, she showed the courage to tie wedlock with a Christian. This inter-religion marriage created much ruckus in her family and she was disowned by her father. She was asked to choose, family or marriage. She had nerves of steel and she wanted to live her life with the man she loved. There was no ‘or’ in her life, only ‘and’ and she added those ‘ands’ according to her own will.
But she had no grievance towards her family. She wanted and tried in her own ways to make them understand that religion didn’t make a man and it’s never justified to judge a person by her/his religion. She succeeded after a long time and her father did understand his mistake.
Throughout her life, she tried her best to help people who were below the poverty line. She didn’t take any fees from them and mom told us that she didn’t think twice before answering an emergency call even at odd hours. She was associated with a lot of charitable organizations. Apart from being an extremely hard working medical practitioner, she was a doting mother and a loving wife. She was a woman of substance who knew how to make her presence felt everywhere in a positive way. She was an inspiration who always held an encouraging view towards life.
Perhaps due to this indomitable life-force, she stood firmly grounded in stormy times. Her only son, Sunny bhaiya, was detected with a Stage 1 throat cancer. While he was under treatment, D’souza uncle one day, met with an accident. Perhaps sometimes, God up there took severe test of those people whom He loved most. And D’souza aunty passed the acid test with her determination and courage.
The life of this remarkable lady stands as an epitome of encouragement and inspiration. To me, she is one of those women, who knows how to keep a balance in every sphere of life. Hard work, determination and diligence are the mantras of her life. A few years ago, after her husband’s death, she has shifted from Mumbai to D’souza uncle’s ancestral village in Kerala. Still, in her early seventies, she is very much active and alive. She is associated now with a local church and often arrange free medical camps for poor and needy. Still there are a number of ‘ands’ in her life. No ‘or’ ‘if’ ‘but’, only AND. Through this post, I pay sincere regards to her spirit.