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Growing up every year I would ardently watch the Republic day parade. I would wait to see children who had won the bravery awards. The commentator would announce each child’s name and recount the act of courage. Some kids would get awarded posthumously, almost bringing tears to everybody’s eyes. These kids would be paraded on elephant backs (then) and the president of India would award those medals.
Every time I saw this, my creative mind would start spinning elaborate stories where I would be the Hero (or heroine in this case). The central character who would at times fight dacoits, wrestle with the bad guys and always save people. I would imagine the pride that my family would feel. I would picture myself strutting in school, a hero in the eyes of my friends.
Such is childhood. Childhood passed away and I was never the hero, never won any bravery awards.
Today for some reason I started thinking about what my daughter would think about me, say ten years later and if I will ever be her Hero?
Will she say that my mother was my hero? My mother inspired me. This set me thinking.
I have almost accepted that I am not a hero, I am an ordinary working woman running through life, the same monotonous life. And who do I think would be a Hero for me if I was a kid once again? Would I be my own hero, today, then, tomorrow?
Would it be my brother who probably rose up to a lot of challenges in life to support his family, shoulder terrible burdens (disguised as responsibilities) or will it be my cousin who stood bravely by her younger siblings, taking place for her mother who was no more and being more than a mother. Or does it necessarily have to be somebody showing an act of physical bravery? Who is a hero?
I think for me bravery is both as much physical as much mental acts. In all these years I have learnt that it takes a lot of mental strength to overcome loss, failure and pain, probably as much and more than facing physical threats. Do I see myself as my daughter’s hero? Yes and no. One thing that I am very sure is that she should never see me as the perfect person who never made any mistakes. What I want her to see in me is a good human being, who instilled good values and courage in her. A human being who faced challenges head on, broke a little, recovered a little and yet marched on. Probably this makes most parents heroes.
If I were to meet my ten year old self, I will tell her that don’t worry even if you don’t get any bravery awards. I will tell her that in life most of the bravery that you show every day goes unnoticed. But in your heart you will know that you were a hero just to be there, face it and just to show up with your chin up.
I will tell her that real heroes are everyday heroes. When you stop and help someone in a road accident, when you raise issues of harassment at work, when you stop abuse, end abuse whether its physical or mental, when you stand up for yourself, when you mother a child, when you adopt a child, when you spend half an hour helping your domestic help in her life, when you are there for a friend who needs you, when you help an old stranger who is lost.
Being a hero doesn’t necessarily have to be earth shattering. It’s these everyday mundane things that make a hero out of you and me. This I will tell her. I sure hope that she will also be someone’s hero someday.