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The Women of Substance #WomensDay

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Breaking the glass ceiling is a phrase I got familiar with quite late in my life. But what it meant was not new to me. I grew up with strong women from all sides.

My first impression of a strong woman in life, My ‘Nana’ ( my maternal granny) was of this rock solid persona draped in all white, standing erect at all times, with her warm brown eyes crinkling with love and affection for the kids. The wrinkles on her lovely yet strong face told many a saga of her trials and tribulations.

One of the first child widows to remarry in Bihar to my maternal grandfather, my ‘Nana’ joined in the freedom struggle with my grandfather with as much fervor as possible at a tender age of 19. Her strength and will was tested again when with five small children in tow, she again became a widow at a young age of 30’s post-independence. But her rock like structure and strong will to look after her children and farm never dwindled. A personality to reckon with, my ‘nana’ got her firstborn daughter, my Mother, Mrs. Usha Kiran Khan educated and empowered to her best abilities.

Mother & Daughter Image


Dr. Usha Kiran Khan with her Mom

Today when I look back into my childhood and recall the strongest women I’ve ever encountered till now , I know for sure, that is what is called ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ or a ‘ path breaker’ that I saw in my maternal grandmother and mother.

My growing up years witnessed an atmosphere of strength, equality and academic excellence with my evolved and empowered mother (Dr. Usha Kiran Khan) leading the way. We received all of this in legacy, it probably was never a surprise for us children to get a holistic approach to life with a beacon of light shining in front of our eyes to lead the way by our gentle and erudite mother.

We knew our calling. We knew what we have to achieve in life. After our freedom fighter and a ferocious home maker grandmother, we walked on the footsteps of our dear, enlightened and literary mother who woke up at 4am to start her writings. With the break of dawn, she had to help us for school, and take care of the home and hearth. She never stopped and gradually took charge of a role as a Professor of Ancient History to mentor students.

A woman Mrs Usha Kiran Khan, donning many hats, yet fitting beautifully into all of them. That is the kind of inspiration I have had and it instilled in me a confidence to make my way. Her persona defined new boundaries for me and made me believe, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Today, me, Tanuja Shankar Khan, standing tall at 50 with many stories of struggle & success behind, I don the hat of an empowered and content woman who knows that she has had role models akin to none, revered by all and definitely I have miles to go before I …


Dr. Usha Kiran Khan

Dr. Usha Kiran Khan served as the Head Of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Archeology at a Degree college in Patna. She is an award-winning writer of Hindi and Maithili languages, with nearly 40 published books and story collections to her name. She is the first writer of Mithila Region, a well established as a prolific writer, educator, social worker, and an artistic person. A recipient of an award Padma Shri in 2015 for her distinguished service in the field of literature and education.

Tanuja Shankar Khan, born and brought up in Patna in a very academic and artistic environment, where she along with her three bright siblings was given all opportunities to participate in various forms of performing arts and media like Theater, Music, Drama, Radio, Writing and Television by her erudite parents.
She is now working as a Creative Director, BAG Films & Media Ltd and is busy with writing scripts and short stories for near to two decades.



On the International Women’s Day, varmaila.com
presents her Guest Post on the series “A tribute to the women, by the woman and for the woman”

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