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GUWAHATI BYTES: Strength, Thy Name is Women

GUWAHATI BYTES: Strength, Thy Name is Women

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 March 2019 11:18 AM GMT

Rituparna Goswami Pande

Each one of us has a story to tell, we are the protagonists of our own tales that are often tragic rather than of the fairytale variety... I have the habit of guessing these stories that people carry around themselves. And it’s not a good trait at all, to see through the veneers... for more often than not it leaves a trail of despondency. We hardly need stray wounds to latch on to our psyches when it is already overburdened with that of our own. But despite my feigned aloofness at my househelp Meena's plight I stood transfixed as if rooted to the concrete floor as she recounted her tale of woe... The sandwich I was having for breakfast tasted like chalk as all the colours drained from my life me as the details tumbled out of Meena... At the end we stood there with moist eyes as I fidgeted to unlock my gaze, unable to match the strength of this ‘frail’ woman.

“Didi,” she continued, “ deceased husband fell prey to cancer and so did my two little children. I had no option but to send my ailing husband to an orphanage, for neither he nor I felt it safe to live together fearing the cancer would spread by his association with the children. Soon after his death I had a harrowing time heavily pregnant with my third child. Making ends meet, working in homes, carrying burdens on my head to collect the expenses of my son’s monthly blood transfusion.... but he died anyway as I missed one transfusion...”

“My second daughter had the same condition and was six when she died... No one came to my rescue, one helped me monetarily or otherwise. And one day when my third child fell seriously ill, I took people’s advise and fled the place which had taken three of my family members. I never retraced my steps to that locality... it is cursed, didi....”

“I married my second husband as society does not let a lonely, single mother be. He was supposed to be my pillar of strength and support, the protector and provider of my children... as I had two more with him... But now I am the sole bread winner of my family as the father of my children is too busy drinking and abusing me, even hitting me if I refused to give money to buy his drinks.... But he is my husband and the society wants me to have one though I might not need him....” I have no fake words of consolation for this powerful woman, she doesn't need them. She has the guts to face her demons head on.... I am just a mute spectator, a character in the periphery of her story... insignificant as a placebo...

Then there is Raso, the svelte, lissome hardly in her early twenties. Raso is a single mom, estranged from her husband, a mother of two and a working one at that. Her day starts at 8 am, when she reaches the Baruahs. For it’s her job to serve piping hot breakfast to her employers. Her afternoons are reserved for the Mehtas who do not mind a late lunch as it suits them fine to sit together with their little one who reaches home at just about time for lunch. And evenings she is back with the Mehtas for tea and dinner

preparations. The thin plastic sheet that she calls a roof over her head is precariously supported by a few mismatched bamboo poles. And residing along the Brahmaputra doesn’t help either as the fickle weather often leave them homeless.

But Raso like the numerous other people who live in those shanties are always battling the natural forces like, storms and rough weather with elan. Rubaiya’s husband, a daily wage labourer, hardly finds or wants to find work. He passes his waking hours in a drunken stupor, often physically abusing his wife, the mother of his three children, the breadwinner of the family, also an enterprising entrepreneur. If she is not selling roasted corn on the cobs at Kachari market, she is either selling homemade ghugni from a cart or washing the utensils at the Phukans.

Her dream is to educate her three children despite the hand to mouth existence. Her day begins at 6 in the morning when she walks from Maasghat, Uzanbazar to Machkhowa to buy corns at a whole sale price from the vendors who open shop in Machkhowa. She then walks back with a sackful of corns on her head to open shop at the pavement hunching over a cauldron of embers roasting the corn. Her zest for life is engaging. “I don’t know why I don’t shed the extra kilos despite walking such long distances every day,” she chuckles. Her fear was palpable when her good-for-nothing husband fell seriously ill which saw her running pillar to post to meet the medical expenses. She braved it out too...

And then there are thousands of others like Pratibha – a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her ‘driver’ husband, Pinky, whose husband, a cook by profession, left his ailing wife and child just because he wanted a son instead of a daughter. The list is endless....

These are uneducated, non-empowered women. They are hardly aware of their rights as women....yet they are leading their lives with heads held high, preferring to leave the perpetrators of violence behind them and march forward on their own. They are far superior to the modern, emancipated women who despite being equipped with every tool of leading a respectable life often fall short...

Hats off to these brave women! They, who fight for survival everyday not even knowing what they are capable of. These are determined women, women of grit who are beautiful but unaware that they are women of substance. These indomitable women, the unidentified faceless and the courageous Sheroes that strengthen our breed... I salute them.


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