Real - Life Durgas: Dr. Maya Sravannthi (Third Blog Post from the Series)

Welcome back to Shree & Her World. If you've already read the previous two blogs in the series, you would be aware of the idea behind this category. For those who are new to my blog, a big welcome! Thank you for taking out time to read and I promise it won't take long.

This blog series "Real-Life Durgas" aims at bringing to light the life stories of "everyday" women who have demonstrated strength in their unique ways and there's so much to learn from them.

A charismatic personality with a stern yet positive outlook, never to shy away from expression of her own ideology, one who knows the value of "Self" and knows what, how and why of life, based on introspection, one who values respect, and commands the same from the rest, one who hustles with you in your difficult times, who scolds you, and counsels you, one who supports you in the hour of need, such is our Real Life Shero, Sravannthi Maya.

A Psycho-oncologist by profession, Maya was born and brought up in Hyderabad, India.

She persued her Bachelors and Masters in Health Psychology, where she learnt how psychology can influence, and how thinking, perspectives, ideas, understandings and expressions of a person does contribute to getting an illness, and how it then impacts the person's life overall and what she can do to support them through the journey.

In her Mphil from Cancer Institute in Chennai, Maya picked cancer as her specialization. She had a whole set of reasoning and personal experience to back her decision, including experience with patients and loss of two close family members and a dear friend. It wasn't easy she says to take up this field of psychology as there is pain, death, agony, tears in the cancer wards. Along with this some of her own life experiences and situations propelled her to be further more empathetic and understanding towards people and their issues.

A lot of her works include counseling and working on ways to communicating better about the stages of cancer, acting as a bridge between the patient, caregiver and the oncologist.

She has completed her PhD from IIT Hyderabad in Psycho-oncology, her thesis was on "Experiences of prognosis disclosure versus non-disclosure: An exploratory study among advanced cancer patients, their careers and oncologists in India."

In her personal space, Maya loves to read, have conversations, and counsel,she is an avid reader and thoroughly enjoys writing. She says, "I am not going to die just like that, we have a life to live, problems will come but persist". She writes and writes as frequently as possible, so that she is able to leave behind enough literature so that her legacy is carried on even after her.

That's an interesting approach to life! You can check out some of her writings here.

Maya and I shared a few interests and opinions, especially on mythology. It was a long conversation and cutting it short and crisp, I am sharing an excerpt from the same, which comprehensively shows her belief system as a whole.

Q - Why mythology?

A. I take inspiration from mythological characters, their validity can be questioned, but I would rather learn from them too, because they are true to our origin and teach you a lot, and are a good way to understand our ancestors.

Q - What characters in Indian mythology do you like / adore and why?

A. I like / adore / connect with different mythological characters for different reasons. To name a few -

Draupadi - Especially as a strong woman, who remained true to herself and stood up for herself.

Ravana for standing by his sister (he had flaws, but don't we all?)

Karna - For his loyalty and honesty

Krishna, for who he was and I definitely look up to Shiva (let's get this clear she is a agnostic, and looks at them like humans and aims to draw life lessons from them)

Q - As a dancer, who do you dance for?

A. Both, for Shiva and Krishna.

Q - Why Krishna?

A. He was one person who said I am not God, but a human, doing everything possible. He brought happiness everywhere he went. He beautifully broke the set idea of love. He was flawed and playful. He would counsel and mock at you effortlessly, but only to show you the different perspectives, and showing a mirror as well as suggesting different possible interpretations is what I feel, and a primary required skill in counselling. That idea, I believe comes from Krishna.

Talking to Maya has always opened a different window of perspectives to me (of course, she is after all a psychologist). Let us look at one such angle.

Q. - What antagonizes you the most?

Hypocrisy. When you believe in something, stand by it. NOT having a belief system and your own ideology and what you stand for is what annoys me.

Based on her ideology, we asked Maya to speak a few words directed to fellow women, to which she said the following, and I think a lot of us will relate to it in one way or the other.

- Own up who you are irrespective of your gender.

- Learn to stay true to yourself in all situations.

- Voice for what's right and what you want.

- DO NOT give up come what may.

- It is never, ever too late to get up and rebuild your life again.

- Be there for yourself, more than anybody else, have beliefs, perspectives, values, ideas and ideologies in life.

- Read as much as you can and travel.

- Seek respect over love.

- Most importantly don't forget to love yourself.

This section of the blog "Sheros: The Real Life Durgas" is a small effort to bring out the lives of women who inspire us in our everyday lives. They have an inspiring story to narrate which might help some of us to re-establish the faith in life with a broader framework.

I hope you liked the blog and please feel free to write you comments, feedback and suggest names, if any, who you think should be a part of this blog series.

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