Editor’s Note: Who, according to you is a woman of substance? What are her personality traits? Have you met someone who you feel can be called a true woman of substance? Share your stories with us here. This is what our IL member  Mindian had to say.

There are stories about past and present women who have achieved the pinnacle of success in various fields of human endeavour. They are all about women, usually celebrities, at the helm of careers. And then there is my story.

How do you define a woman of substance? I asked myself this question and then P came to my mind.

P is my class mate from school who I met during my last visit to India in September 2009.

In school she was a short, dark, fat girl, very average in looks and studies, but a very good natured person whose shy smile lit up her face.

We all felt she was too submissive and teased her that she would make someone a very good wife and some lucky family a dutiful daughter in law. But we laughingly warned her that she would be considered a doormat and be ill-treated, unless of course she was lucky enough to get into a very nice family. 

We both ended up taking commerce after school but went our separate ways after that, when she opted for a two year diploma course in Computer Programming. But we kept in touch through mails and occasional calls.

She entered a very good company and rose from one post to the next. Though she was the eldest in her family of three, both her younger brothers got married before her, while she went ahead career wise. Amongst our circle of friends she was the last to get married.

However, marital bliss lasted only for two years, and resulted in a kid and a divorce. She was left with her small son, but was probably economically secure with a well paying job.

She moved in with her parents and life went on smoothly for maybe another 2- 3 years when she was dealt with another huge blow. Her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

P and her parents sold their home, and with a new loan on her shoulders bought her own home near her place of work. She moved in to her new home with her parents and son and employed a cook so that her mother could take full care of her father. She told me his condition deteriorated at such a rapid pace that he couldn’t be left alone at all.

But the Lord had probably decided that she had not suffered enough.

Her mother was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. When I met her in September both her parents were mere skeletons of their former selves. Her father did not recognise anybody even in the family and her mother could not talk to anybody after a severe chemo session. It pained me terribly to see them that way, since I have seen them as young vibrant people.

Life goes on for my friend.

She looks after both her parents. She has hired a full-time help for her father and a cook-cum-maid for her mother, and spends all her free time with her son. Now she leads her company in the position of vice president. Outwardly she is still the smiling shy girl but with strands of grey in her short boy cut.

While she narrated all this in a matter-of-fact tone, I was crying inside at the raw deal life had meted out to her.

Was she the same submissive P who took all our ragging? It suddenly struck me that even back then she had never complained .She had always taken it with a smile which we had mistaken in our childishness as a sign of her docility and weakness. Actually she had always been strong, maybe much stronger than any of us.

I realised that P personified woman of substance. And I felt extremely honoured and proud to be her friend.

I am sure that many of us have met someone like that, and have been privileged to have had a glimpse into the enormous substance inside. Their stories would probably never make it to the glossies but hope IL pages would soon be full of them.