THE PLIGHT OF WIDOWS

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I was lucky to have in my grandmother a strong feminist who wanted us grand-daughters to be highly educated and economically independent. Often she would bemoan the fact that she remained semi-literate as she was married off at a very early age, in tune with the times.

Her benign eyes would light up when some of us shone in our studies or excelled in extra- curricular activities. Often she would contrast our good fortune with those of her contemporaries, many of whom had become child widows. One particular heart rending episode she narrated was that of youthful widows with clean-shaven heads covered with white saris, indulgently adoring the salt and pepper hair of their suhagan mothers or mothers-in-law with flowers.

The only ambition of these women had, was to go once in their lifetime to Kashi to take a holy dip in the Ganges. Only a fortunate few realized this dream. The rest resigned themselves to their fate.

Pondering over it could any society be more callous towards its womenfolk?

*this article had won the best letter in Femina-July 23 to August 7, 1989

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