Bio: Born amidst the snow-clad Himalayas in the dreamy town of Shimla, with roots from Kashmir, Akriti Mattu is a free spirit in every sense of the term. A two time Gold Medalist in English Literature, Recipient of National Level Fellowships, Ex CSE qualifier, Lyricist at Paramount Pictures, Hollywood, Published Author across platforms and Founder of a Travel Content startup in Bangalore - Budget Wayfarers, Akriti is an absolute writing buff. Startups are her latest fad she is dedicated to the Startup Biz at present. She believes in living it real and lives by the philosophy each day.
Born in Rawalpindi in pre-independent India in 1937, Satwant Sharma (Akritti's grandmom), grew up to be fondly known as the Iron Lady to the people who knew her closely.
Destiny seemed to have laid a strong foundation for Satwant, with her birth in a literate and liberal viewed family, to carry out her purpose of empowering self and others. Her dad was an officer with the Indian Army while her mother was a teacher in a high school. Satwant was the fifth child amongst her six siblings. Soon after her birth, Satwant's family moved to Ferozepur, Punjab.
It is not difficult to imagine her plight and her fight for survival in an era where girls were reckoned inferior to boys. An age where the males enjoyed the privilege of a good education, while the course of a girl’s life was decided by her family, Satwant, niched a place for herself.
Her parents supported in her endeavor to finish her education. She graduated from a University in Ferozepur in Punjab. Although she was allowed to complete her college she could not postpone her marriage in spite of her willingness to study further.
Satwant entered into a new phase of life after she was married to a bureaucrat with the government of Himachal Pradesh. Her husband, Akriti's granddad, was a hard-working and a pious man. Understanding his wife’s willingness to study further, he let her make her own decisions.
She touched new horizons as she completed her Masters in Sociology. She was determined to become financially independent. Her motto was not only to earn money but also to give back to the society that she had attained over the years of hard work and persistence, that is, knowledge.
For a free-spirit and a strong-willed Satwant, nothing was impossible. High spirited with a never give up attitude, her quest for the job ended as a teacher in a government school. She was very passionate about her profession. She spent her free time at home teaching under privileged kids. Most of whom, today are living a happy and successful life.
She took upon herself the onus to teach women around her to learn to respect oneself and educated them about their rights.
She mothered three children, two daughters, and one son. She inculcated good values and the importance of education in her children. Both her daughters hold Ph.D. degrees. Her son has recently retired from government services.
Satwant proved to be a continuous source of inspiration not just for her children but also for the generations to come. Akriti was always in awe of her grandmom’s aura.
Satwant was so charismatic, lively, independent, intellectual, progressive, inspirational, and liberal that her ideology left an everlasting impression on Akriti's soul.
Akriti shared a special bond with her grandmom as they both got emotionally close through her growing days. She knew she could share her feelings with her grandmom without being judged or criticized.
Satwant's willingness to adapt to the change made Akriti admire her even more. She made good use of technology. In the century where oldies still believe life gets dull with age, Satwant proved otherwise. She used the gadgets and apps to her convenience. She stayed connected with family and friends through Facebook and WhatsApp. Her hold over the languages, English and Hindi, and the use of vocabulary had always been impressive.
As a child Akriti always believed that every home is a happy home as she had. Both men and women in her family were taught to dream, to make choices, to make their own mistakes, and to take responsibility for their actions and life. Least did she know that in the twenty-first century there were still people who discriminated between the genders. There were homes where girls were still seen as a liability. There were parents who made the least effort to educate their girl child.
No wonder Akriti felt blessed to be born into a family that was deep-rooted with an innate sense of freedom and respect for both sexes. She felt proud of the fact that she was loved, educated, and empowered to be who she is today. Her grandmom gave her the wings to soar high. She taught her the biggest lesson, to love and appreciate life, of self and others without discriminating against people on the basis of their gender, color, caste, religion.
Akriti is in gratitude to her grandmom to teach her to celebrate each day as it comes.
The soul is immortal but bodies perish. Satwant is physically not with her loved ones anymore, but her teachings will stay with them forever.
This article is an encomium to one of the strongest, influential, independent, and the most admired woman in Akriti's life. Her grandmom always strived to spread courage to women who felt vulnerable. If any woman reading her story were able to find the strength to stand up for herself, it would be a real tribute to Smt. Satwant. After all, all she had ever worked towards was for the betterment and upliftment of girls and women.
A Ray of Hope: I have always believed that empowerment should not be a choice for individuals. It should be their lifestyle. More so for women. For me personally, empowerment is my way of life. It helps me live up to the best of my abilities and evolve constantly as a human being. Being a good leader does not only imply having followers. It means creating more leaders, maybe better than yourself. That is how the world progresses. As a woman, I have always believed in the principle of forming ties of solidarity with all women kind. The world cannot be called as accelerating unless women stand united. You don't need to shout on the streets raising slogans. Begin by believing in self-validation and then by carving your own unique niche. Expand this further and stand up for the woman right to you and the woman left to you. It will make all the difference.