Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts (VRFA) was started by Subhashini Vasanth in the memory of her husband, Col.Vasanth Venugopal, Ashoka Chakra (Posthumously). Her experience as an Infantry Officer’s wife and a martyrs’ widow made her realise that a support system for the widows of armed forces personnel was essential. With this purpose, founders Subhashini Vasanth and Smitha Srinivasan, along with 30 veer naris in Karnataka and their young children, first started Vasantharatna Foundation for Arts in 2007.
While VRFA was launched essentially to liaison between civil agencies, the government, and the next of kin of martyrs, the foundation’s approach soon morphed into a more holistic system of caring for the martyrs’ families. Today, the VRFA community has over 120 wives and children, with programs starting in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Delhi.
Here Subhashini, shares 5 life lessons that she learnt as soldier’s wife:
Lesson Number 1: Channeling inner grief into a bigger impact
Awareness of the irreversible nature of the loss - “Death” trying to find purpose in its occurrence to me. Applying the learning to reach out to women in tougher circumstances (that means identifying my own positives in the situation). Indirectly, unconsciously healing myself by solely focussing on being useful to others actually helps.
Lesson Number 2: Coping with being a single parent
Single parenting is a huge challenge, at every age, so my methods are keeping the channels of communication open with the children at all times ( Good, bad & ugly). Timely discussion and sorting out differences, listening to their perspective and conveying my cause for concern. Taking the help of professional counsellors when required as young adults face issues which become difficult for us to manage alone. We are too close to the situation to look at things objectively and therefore leads to anxiety.
Lesson Number 3: Never let your passion die
It is amazing how the Universe brings you the people, the funds, the ideas and the energy, when we stop looking only at ourselves. You drop the “Why me “and think “Why not me” and everything changes. The will to be of service to others is also a blessing. Just aligning with the higher power brings magnanimous returns and peace. There are days when I feel this whole thing is a miracle in movement.
Lesson Number 4: Never let failures deter you
There have been many moments of despair, starting with my own loss, the grief, the unnecessary attention and sympathy. The insensitivity of people who say things like “you married an army man; you would know this could happen.” Or like as if the Gratuity and Insurance money is a great thing and as if monetary compensation can replace the loss of a loved one!! Or when I have faced social ostracization (in my own small way !!) for being a widow – which is why we do the Women Empowerment Program. As Gandhiji quoted “We need to be the change we want to see.”
Social change is the hardest, because we have to take on our own dear and near ones sometimes. Things hurt but it is only to be expected, like nothing is a bed of roses?!! Well cry if you like but the sun rises the next morning and so must we for it is a new day, with new energy and new ideas!! And you never know what surprises it holds.
Lesson no 5: Attitude of gratitude
It is divine will, I never wanted this situation, it happened and I am doing my best surviving. Adopting the approach of being a witness to our own life has been very helpful. Also the attitude of being grateful and focussing on what all we have instead of what we have lost.
Subhashini Vasanth, wife of Col Vasanth Venugopal shares her insights of leading from the front
By: Ipsita Basu