by Aditi Krishna
A Woman’s Life and The realisation
You know who I am? No you don’t. Ok, do try to guess for once at least. No? Ok, no worries. Let me tell you. I am an Embryo, a life in the making, a part of a god’s divine creation, a woman. I am developing; I am growing, in her womb, inside her fragile body. She bears me with all the strength though, I am sure she is taking a good care of herself. After all she is a mother; she knows she has to do so, so that I can grow. Oh yes, I am growing. I can see my eyes form in the first month. Ah! I have a heart in two months and as the time goes by, I grow.I am sure my mother can feel me now, its seven-eight months already. I often kick her, just to tell her I am here, right in my place, ready to come out in not much time. I am sure it makes her extremely happy. She has nurtured me throughout, least bothering about her inconvenience, her pain and her life. I WANT to come out now, to see HER, to see the world that is beautiful.Oh! Today it’s been complete nine months since I was noticed for the first time in my mother’s womb. Finally the day comes when I will come out, detached from my mother’s body but not detached from her soul and her heart, because her heart is where I stay. I know once I am in the outside world, not just my mother but also my father, my grandparents and the entire family will jump in joy!
But, did I just expect something wrong? Did I wish for too much? Did I ask for something foolish? I didn’t understand why everyone, every SINGLE person, was standing in sheer muteness when the doctor declared, “it’s a girl!” Why was it so, I fail to understand! Well, the answer to this question, I knew everyone had, but, I guess, it was something I was to get to know myself with the course of time. I was to know, WHY I was not allowed to wish, expect, ask or even think of something, even the smallest of things. I am sure, I will get to know.
I am five years old now. My mother loves me, adores me, and dotes on me. Probably the only one who does so. Obviously! She is a mother and for a mother a child is a child, any difference ceases to exist for her. A mother’s heart knows no distinction. But I guess for everyone else it does exist. I don’t know why, till now, my father hasn’t shown any interest in me. After all, I am his blood!! But no! He comes back home drunk, beats up my mother every day. I watch it in silence, standing behind a kitchen’s door. And if it is the unfortunate day for me and if he would see me around, he would beat me up too, screaming, “you little evil! Why did I not kill you the day when you were born? You bloody girls bring bad luck to our house! I wouldn’t be surprised if you would bring shame to us one day! And your mother is such a useless woman, she can’t even give me a son!” I still didn’t understand. Why, for what reason, I was beaten up so ruthlessly. Why was my mother treated in such a way? What had she done to deserve such a treatment?
I am seven years now and my mother is lying ill on her bed, in some corner of the big mansion in which we live in. I am a Zamindar’s daughter, and my mother a Zamindar’s wife. But what is the use of that? We don’t really live a life of royalty. My mother is sick, and no one to look after her. There are servants, but they are asked not to serve her. There are relatives, but they don’t seem to care. I just keep sitting beside her bed she is lying on, tending to her little needs, trying to make her feel better. A doctor had come to see her, prescribed medicines, but no one seems to care about that too. I still fail to understand, why my mother is treated so? What wrong has she done!? I see her dying, and I feel helpless. I want to save her! I just can’t imagine my life without her. She is the only one who loves me, who gives me the affection who nobody else does, who stays awake the entire night when I am ill, who plays with when I feel like, laughs with me, cries with me and sings me lullabies at night! What will I do without her?
It’s been 5 years since my mom died of illness. And today I remember her in the most important day of my life. I am to get married, married to a man 10 years elder to me. This is what my family wants, not to get me married, but to get rid of me. I see them acting fake, as if they really love me. I know the masks they are wearing with so many people around. They kiss me; hug me every now and then, trying to show off their love. But I know their reality.I know if my mom was here, she would’ve been the one truly happy. She would’ve adorned, dressed me up herself. She loved me a lot. Yeah, I do have a faint memory of hers, and cherished ones, which will always remain close to my heart.
People say life is like weather. Throughout the year, either it will be the season of sadness, disappointments, loneliness and depression, or it will gradually transform into a season which is full of life, happiness and a sense of belongingness that creeps in. But it seems that my life doesn’t recognise any other season but that of loneliness and disappointments. It’s been 10 years since I’ve got married and I have borne only two children, both of whom are daughters. It’s been a disappointment for my family, for my husband in particular. He desperately wanted a son, for who will carry on his name, his lineage and inherit his hard-earned wealth, which he had been saving up till now for his son. I am cursed, almost every day, if not directly then indirectly. As I walk out to the market every day,women laugh at me; say that I am no better than a “banjh” or a “barren woman”. At home, I am constantly a target of the taunts of my in-laws who still wish and hope for a male-child. I want a son too. I want to walk down the market with my head held high, not giving those arrogant women a chance to say a word. I want my family to be happy with me. But what to do! I can’t help it, if the fate doesn’t want me to bear a son. Oh god! Please shower your blessings on me. Please give me a son.
I am eighty years now, on my death bed. I am ill, my son is here and so are my daughters. They are taking a good care of me. I am so happy to see them with me at this last stage of mine. My son was born after twelve years of my marriage, long after my first daughter was born. I remember how happy everyone was, and so was I, of course. My family had got their heir, and I had managed to silence those evil women and my family. They weren’t dissatisfied by me anymore. Throughout these years, I’ve seen them taking good care of him. He was pampered, educated well and was married to a girl he was in love. He is quite well-settled now, taking care of the family business. Ah! I forgot to talk about my daughters. Oh, they are quite happily married too, with their husbands. They were married of early; just like I was! I still have faint memories of my mother. How much she loved me!
But today, as I die and when I am reminded of my mother, I am also reminded of those little questions I asked as a little kid, to myself, to everyone; those questions which I seemed to have forgotten over the course of time. But how can I do that? How can forget the trauma my mother had gone through? How can I forget that quest of mine to find the answers for those?
Or maybe I myself became a party to the same thing which I once questioned, did I? Did I become a victim of the same thing as my mother? Did I, with the course of time, got submerged into the same system which once confused me. Maybe when I think of it right now, I still haven’t really got the answer to the very first question I ever asked. Why was everyone silent when I was born? Just because I was a girl? Why was my mother treated this way? Just because she was a woman? I still don’t understand, is being a woman, a crime? If it is, why so? And IF it isn’t, then why are we treated this way? And the worst of all is the fact that I, myself, being a woman, having seen SO much in my own life, never understood my daughters, always prayed for a son, always pampered him and always tried to make his life a better one. But what about my daughters? They struggled the same way as I or my mother did. Why could I not give them happiness or at least tried to fight for it? When I move out of my personal domain, the bigger question remains – WHY DO WE (THE WOMAN) SUBMIT TO OUR FATES? WHY DO WE HAVE TO ‘ASK’ FOR OUR OWN RIGHTS? WHY CAN’T WE JUST TAKE IT?
Aren’t we, the women, ourselves the enemy of each other? I UNCONCIOUSLY discriminated against my daughters, but I did so nevertheless. I can blame the men. Oh yes! They are the patriarchs, trying to rule over the women, but then what are WE doing, except for submitting to it? If men are wrong, so are the women.
It works both ways, I believe. Both then, they HAVE to change, they WILL have to! People say India’s heart resides in its villages. But if this is what still happens in those very villages, and if its VERY heart is struggling from a disease, then imagine, what will happen to this nation? There are so many questions that go unanswered, to which, we have to find one, so as to survive and emerge victorious in the war we are in, with our own selves, and with the evil inside us. What do you think?