From “She” to “It”

The whiteness of her sari bore a different story,

Blank face, tearful eyes searching for any leftover glory.

Often wondered upon plight of her life,

Lost all identity expect “the murderous wife”.

All her joys were boxed and lit,

As her transformed from being “she” to “it”.

WIDOWS! Have we ever wondered about the life led by women clad in that white sari?  Or what does that white sari signify? Or the challenges which she faces every single day? A widow’s life is painted in the vile colours of depravity, self-effacement, sorrow and trauma. The tragedy of the tragedy is too tragic to comprehend!

India houses a population of estimated 40 million widows with a lot of them concentrated in Vrindavan, atoning for the sins which they never actually committed. Death is inevitable, it comes for all. Blaming the wife for the death of the husband and the repugnant use of epithets like “husband eater” evidently manifests the disgusting and poignant approach which society has towards a widow. In Punjab, a widow is referred to as “Randi” which means a prostitute in Punjabi. Steps are taken to marry the widow to her deceased husband’s younger brother in order to avoid rape.

It is very disheartening to hear such incidents which completely rout a widow out of her personhood, making her a puppet and an insignia of mockery for the society which assumes the role of soi-disant guardian for her. Is it not humiliating for a nation known for its broad intellectual horizons and high level of tolerance to harbor such demeaning approach towards widows?

Talking to them or inviting them to pious events are considered to be a sacrilege. Like untouchables they are deprived of all the warmth of human relations, eternally cast down upon, abused, sexually harassed and subjugated to a nugatory life of immense misery and trauma, deeply affecting them emotionally, psychologically and financially. Does such manhandling of a section of society suit us as human beings?

In order to discourage male sexual desire, widows are made to part with colourful saris, jewels and even shave their heads in some conservative Hindu families which are nothing but a deliberate, nefarious attempt to dominate upon this section which absolutely preposterous rules and regulations. Depriving them of pickles, onions, garlic, potatoes and fish in order to avoid stimulation of their sexual passions is again one of the many unreasonable constraints made upon them.  Another example of bereavement is the prohibition of usage of red bindi which proclaims a woman’s sexuality, which is a hideous sign of symbolic castration of a woman’s sexuality.

Sadly the widows seem to have internalized these rules based on traditions without questioning their rationality. Lack of implementation of laws, delay of justice in matters of sexual assaults and forced prostitution have magnified the plight of widows who are “de-sexed” and hardly considered to be more than a cumbersome burden for the society. Murky and dismal!

Yashika Kant

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