Three months ago, my maid disapperared for 3 days without notice. When she returned she was in bad shape , tired and miserable and in a state of shock. Sitting through her incoherent rants I got the gist of what had happened. Her husband had left her a few years ago for another woman leaving her to take care of a 15 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. She had to resort to housework and selling flowers despite coming from a family that was not too badly off. They hoped that the man would come to his senses one day and return but things got worse. They discovered that he was planning to sell off the land he owned and the son went to confront him as it was ancestral property and he felt he had a right to it too! The quarrel got nasty and the son drank poison in a fit of temper thinking that would shock his father into coming to senses. He was rushed to the hospital and his mother sent for. So she had rushed ina hurry and stayed with him in the hospital, running around, staying awake and crying hysterically for a foolish son and a callous husband. At least the son was saved and sent home with an intestine whose lining was completely corroded by the poison - a 18 year old!!
I gave her breakfast, murmured sympathetic words, gave her some cash and sent her home to rest.Life returned to "normal" the next day. Normal as is poverty, suffering and struggle - at least everyone was alive and no one was drinking poison.
Last week again she disappeared and I attributed it to Pongal or one of her pilgrimages to the hundred deities she believes in. She returned yesterday in the same state of shock, tired and worn out.
What now?
She spent the past 5 days in the hospital this time taking care of her husband , who had consumed poison, as the "other" woman had runaway with all the money he had!!
I asked her where was the need to take care of the man who had treated her and her children so badly.
Her response?
"If I ignore him and my responsibility, what is the difference between me and him amma. I won't be very upset if he had died but I didnt want to renege on my responsibility and set a bad example to my children. They have a bad father but let them see some goodness at least from their mother and learn what good life is."
She did not expect him to come back home but she was happy that she had done what she had to.
WOW! I had to admire this woman!!!
Is this what people mean when they talk about the greatness of Bhartiya Naari hood and how it has been at the foundation of Indian culture? I am not willing to get into the rights and wrongs of her approach or passive acceptance of abuse and its perpetuation.
To me her action makes sense completely as a human being and I think she acted with a lot of dignity.
10 Responses
  1. Pradeep Nair Says:

    This incident confirms my view that there is a lot of learn from people, like this woman, who live in fringes of society; whom we term as "downmarket", "illiterate" "good for nothing"; whom the "educated and civilised" society looks down with contempt. A very good post.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    yes defntly she has.

    Recently read Sujatha's story which is very close to this.

    I admire these woman.

  3. Akruti Says:

    I dont know if this is Bharatiya nari,but i am sure this is what is Humanity,Not necessary that we find it only in the hight class educated society of india.These are the people who show to us the true spirit of humanity,and as Pradeep says infact this section of society is very strong with certain aspects of life,They dont think of societal pressures or dubious values which has no base.Hats off to them.

  4. Paavai Says:

    She is truly remarkable and a role model for what humanity is all about

  5. Visithra Says:

    I dont agree with her action - shes actually breeding this concept then men can do anythign and the wives will bow down to it and still look after them no matter what

    its one of the reasons we still see women being abused - because of these ideas inflicted by women themselves

  6. Ram Says:

    Double kudos to you--one for narrating an instructive story and the other for rightly insisting that one should appreciate its central message without getting bogged down with fancy value judgements.

  7. Usha Says:

    Pradeep: you mean home spun wisdom?

    Dubukku, anda manushar sujatha ezhudada vishayame illaiya..I used to be a great fan of Sujatha's too. Avaroda understanding of human behaviour is very deep. Ippodaan 10 varushamaachu tamizh padiche - except for your blog.

    Akruti, Paavai: I felt the same way.

    Visithra, I think she rose above her personal issues to act like a good human being. And she also says she did not doing it hoping he would come back. I think that required a remarkably evolved sensibility. Perhaps her being less informaed About the ways of the world made it all come easy to her. Her only yardstick was to act like a good human being.
    But I completely understand what you mean and in that context you are not wrong.

    Ram, Thanks

  8. Kishore Says:

    There may be exceptions, but speaking generally, a man does not have the inherent sense of committment that a woman has. A touch of possessiveness (in a postive sense, ofcourse) and committment is a predominantly exclusive domain of a woman.

  9. Usha Says:

    a sense of commitment can be acquired too - men bring it to their jobs and things they consider important dont they?
    So why hide behind the excuse of not having it "inherently"? I bet women did not have in inherently either. It is generations of conditioning, handed down from their moms and grand moms and all the women before.

  10. Wonderful. She may not be educated but her thoughts and the great magnanimity should open the eyes and mind of so called elite people in this world. I salute her for her great thoughts.