In the name of culture and tradition, a young widow continues to be exploited in 21 st century India. When the wife of a man dies and he is young, the elderly womenfolk in the household start looking for a suitable bride once they are done with the mourning rituals. If he doesn’t have children, well and good; but if he has children, then the poor little ones need a mother. What about a woman then? Don’t her children need a father? Nobody talks in favour of her remarriage. None look for a suitable man for her nor is she allowed to choose one for herself. She is asked not to wear bright colours. She is forced to grieve all her life. Are we not violating her Fundamental Rights, asks Syeda Hidayat, in this hard-hitting weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
Despite the rise in the graph of educated people over the years, the broadness in thinking is still lacking. When it comes to standing against the society over an issue, people often back out. We are not cattle; still, we follow the crowd, fearing the consequences of going against a particular set of people. Those who speak their mind out are often referred as mad, too modern to fit in the Indian society, etc. Recently, I came across an incident that made me think that our minds need to be a little broader in dealing with women.
When a woman is widowed at a very young age, her fate and future are doomed. She is expected to confine herself within the four walls of her room. If she has children, she should dedicate her entire life to them. Her right to love a man again is taken away or it is considered a sin. But the weirdest thinking I came across was, “She shouldn’t be allowed to work at her husband’s post, she may fall in love with her colleague”. I wondered if she’s not be allowed to work at her husband’s place, on compassionate ground, then who is going to bear the expenses of her children all their life? Who will educate them? Who will feed them? Okay, if the relatives are kind enough and too loving that they will bear all the expenses. What about the dignity of that woman? What about her self- respect? Would she be able to keep her head high after being dependent on relatives for food and clothing? Every morsel of food would remind her of her misery, every piece of cloth draped around her body would make her dignity lay bare before everyone. She would be reminded of the women in the neighbourhood, of the sacrifice that her relatives made to feed her and her children, otherwise they would have starved to death. She would be hit where it hurts the most.
When the wife of a man dies and he is young, the elderly womenfolk in the household start looking for a suitable bride once they are done with the mourning rituals. If he doesn’t have children, well and good; but if he has children, then the poor little ones need a mother. What about a woman then? Don’t her children need a father? Nobody talks in favour of her remarriage. None look for a suitable man for her nor is she allowed to choose one for herself. She is asked not to wear bright colours. She is forced to grieve all her life. I am not saying that being grieved over your husband’s death is bad. But not letting her start a normal life is. We never see a man wearing only white clothes nor any other dull colours after the death of his wife. He can easily step out and start a normal life. But a woman cannot!
Merely memorising the reforms for women would do no good to our society until those are put to practical use. She is a human. She has been granted equal rights for by the Constitution of India. Her Fundamental Rights are being snatched away. And most importantly, she has self-respect. Don’t wound her self-respect as not even time can heal it. Widows, despite young or old, men or women, have the right to choose what is best for them and their lives. Some decisions are personal; let them be made personally, without anyone’s interference in it. Raise your level of thinking. The society will rise.
© Syeda Hidayat Fatima
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Born in Lucknow, Syeda Hidayat Fatima is an aspiring writer and blogger. Her immense love and passion for writing has made her take up reading and writing recently making it a pivotal part of her life. Her sharp eye for detailing has lead to many beautiful creations. Her works has been nationally and internationally published. Having completed her graduation recently she dreams of beautiful tomorrows and wishes to capture them in her writings forever.