A Sisterhood Without Borders
Olutosin: We all need encouragement and support to become better, more focused, individuals. I was driven to stretch my hand to Urmila, who is blessed with openness and desire for change. All I had to offer her was my commitment and loyalty.
Urmila: The day I was shortlisted for a big position in a renowned organization, I still remember finding Olutosin online and breaking the news to her. I was jubilant to have the opportunity to compete for the position. “Go, sister, go!!!” were Olutosin’s words before I left for the interview. I faced a difficult selection procedure, where I learned that this selection had been going on for a few days and there were many others who were competing for the position. I gave it my best, but deep in my heart I had decided I could not expect to get this job. When I walked out I looked back to that big beautiful office, thinking this would be the last time I would see it.
When I met Olutosin online that night, she asked me about my interview. She now tells me that this is what I told her: “I did well but I have no chance of getting that job. There were so many out there who had better qualifications than me.” Olutosin responded with reassurance and unwavering faith in me, which motivated me to hold on to hope and optimism.
Olutosin: Like every sister, Urmila has myriad issues and most of these issues are a mirage; they do not really exist. They are fragments of our imagination, borne out of fear due to our socialization and tradition. I realized that, like me, she needed a push from someone who would just stay behind her and say “go ahead,” just as it was instilled in me by other women on World Pulse.
Passing the Torch
Olutosin: Once, when Urmila sent me an email about a bad day at work, I responded to her with advice that my World Pulse mentor Ma Natalie Safir gave me in 2009: "There are some cases when those people you look up to make you feel as if you are a non-existing rag. It has nothing to do with you; it has a lot to do with them. Some people cannot handle what is right with you." As I went on, Urmila penned down all my advice, just the way I had written down the advice of my World Pulse mentors Ma Natalie Safir and K-Lee Starland.
Urmila: Olutosin has been there to hear what I have to say, to correct me when I waiver, to pick me up when I fall, to boost me when I lack confidence, and to believe in me when things go wrong. This is what I have found in the global sisterhood at World Pulse.
2013: Meeting in Person
Urmila: I could not believe it when Olutosin told me, “I am coming to India!!!!!!!!” She would be traveling to Kerala for a program at an organization called Kanthari. Later, in October, she would come to my city.
Olutosin: I would have an opportunity to meet my dear Urmila! She jumped and screamed when I informed her.
We have our pains and our tears and those moments of fear, but above all, we have one another. We cherish every opportunity to learn from each other.
When I arrived in Kerala, even before Urmila and I had a chance to meet in person, she offered a broad shoulder of support to me. She was always online to chat. “What do you need?” She would ask me. “Do you want your phone to be recharged? Do you want more Maaza (an Indian drink I love)? How can I mail Maaza to Kanthari? Should I send some money to your phone? Do you want to call your daughters?”
Ah, sometimes I would get fed up with her desire to give everything—even what she does not have at hand. I would scream, “I do not want anything!” Urmila’s love and kindness brings tears to my eyes. I could not ask for more. . . .