Friday, 18 December 2015

Widowing Self

It had become disgustingly unbearable, his coming home drunk and beating her black and blue, often in the presence of their two children.

They were living in a shanty in the slum. He was a rickshaw-puller and she, a daily labourer. Years ago, she had eloped with him from their village to the city. At that time, he had filled her mind with colourful dreams of comfortable life. In the first few years, she was really happy to be a devoted wife and he was the adoring husband. Both of them earned and were happy to be together.

It all changed after the birth of her second child.

He took to drinking and spent all his earnings on liquor. The burden of meeting all the expenses of the household fell on her. Occasional bickering gave way to regular fights. His earnings became insufficient for his needs at the liquor-shop; he started demanding a share from her income. When she refused, beatings became more frequent. He started stealing her money, wherever she concealed it.

Then she could take no more of it; she could no longer bear it.  One night, after his beating her mercilessly, he demanded food. She drugged it. When he fell fast asleep with the effects of the drinks and the drug, she took out the grinding stone and clobbered him on his head with all her strength. He struggled and screamed; the children screamed. Then he became still.

Hearing the noise, neighbours gathered. Police came. She was arrested.

For the first two days in jail, she was in peace with herself; she had a queer sense of satisfaction.

Then the rage in her mind began to cool. She started pondering over what she had done.

It dawned on her that she had widowed herself; she had made her children destitute.

Was she right? Was she wrong?

As a widow, she was no longer to wear her bangles. The glass bangles worn by her had to be broken down. On many occasions, she had seen women from neighbouring houses, breaking down the bangles from the wrists of a wailing and struggling woman, who had been just bereaved and widowed.
Who would do the job now? Who would break down her bangles?

She picked up a piece of rock with her right hand and laid her left wrist on the ground.

As she started hitting her bangles with the rock, images of her pounding his head with the grinding stone flashed back in her mind.


Based on reports of an actual happening in Bhubaneswar