Being Women

Memories Of A Cold February Dawn And The Curve That Straightened My World

With the 'kanyadaan' the girl is expected to shoulder the responsibility of her new family and traditionalists believe that her duty towards her parental home ceases. Feminists scoff at the tradition

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain,” said Dolly Parton.

I have put up with quite a bit of rain, sometimes a downpour even and it was on one such deluge from where this piece takes off.

I was hurtling down the road on my scooter. It was the year 2009 and the month of February. The nights were long and the air decidedly chilly.  It was barely dawn and I had spent the last half-an-hour awake and restless. I wanted the day to break so that I could make my way home. 

I had spent the night at the hospital on the narrow couch adjoining the bed of my mother-in-law who was a day into her post-operative care after her 7th surgery all in and around her abdomen. She, the poor soul seemed to have been given a raw deal by fate and every alternate year, she needed something to set her abdomen right. The fact that hospitals expected a family member to be by her side at all times left me with no choice.

At the time of the wedding, a girl is given away by her father to the groom.  With the ‘kanyadaan’ the girl is expected to shoulder the responsibility of her new family and traditionalists believe that her duty towards her parental home ceases. If and when she shoulders the burden of her parental home, it is because of her and her marital home’s goodness. 

Feminists scoff at the tradition and say that it is an affront to be treated as a commodity. But surprisingly, this comes in handy particularly when the going gets tough. So, it was in our case. My husband’s two sisters had prior commitments hence the shouldering of responsibility was solely his and as his spouse mine too. 

I was feeling quite a bit resentful at the way we were expected to be the sole caregivers. I was having my hands full holding down a full-time teaching job, and a son who was taking his crucial board examinations that would be the basis on which his future admission into colleges would rest.

I was in a foul mood that morning planning the chores for the rest of the day and it only made my scowl darken and cast a shadow over the beautiful sun that was on the verge of unwrapping itself on the eastern side.  I noticed a group of young men jogging and they were about to cross the road some distance ahead of me. 

Though I turned the throttle to slow me down, I simultaneously stood on my horn for I was afraid that the application of sudden brake would make me skid. A few of them had managed to cross the road by the time I was almost upon them. A flurry of sudden movements caught my attention and the group of teenagers stood at attention on either side of me and gave a deep bow all the while grinning.  

A spontaneous smile broke out in response to their impromptu guard of honour. It remained with me through the day and helped me meet the challenges that life had thrown at me at that time. A little more than a decade later, I recollect those boys and their absolutely delightful, uninhibited, unconscious prank that they played upon me but which left a lifetime of learning.

Life can indeed be made more beautiful by a smile that needs no reason.

I have no idea if they even remember the time, they made a difference to a hassled woman who had felt the world crowding in on her. 

I guess they believed in Hillary Clinton’s quote, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can.”

(This was originally Published in the book Beautiful: In the eye of the beholder, brought out by Sweetycat Press. This is in memory of Steve Carr who helped many authors and writers.)


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