Monday, March 8, 2010

On Women's Day

Below are profiles of three old women who have a sad story to share. The series of
profiles were published in Central Chronicle.

Life with a cause is life with effect

It feels great when you are having a chirping time with your complete family. You experience a blend of happiness, sorrow, anguish and all the emotions together to spend the evening of life. How would it feel if suddenly you are forced to withdraw from the family and left isolated between the crowd of strangers? Definitely traumatic!
Those rock steady eyes longing to be taken away tell several tales of distress and loneliness. She doesn’t know what her rights are as a woman or as senior citizen, what she is worried about is where and how her daughter would be.
Manjula Taunk, 65, hailing from Titlagarh, Odisha was brought as first candidate to the newly constructed Sanjeevani Oldage home on March 13 last year. Her brother Dheerajlal Parmar whose name she couldn’t properly pronounce is a local resident and refuses to shelter her excusing on lack of space. A sister of three brothers, Manjula mourns towards their irrational behaviour. “It aches that the brother didn’t even show her the house and directly lead her to oldage home from station,” informed the caretaker when Manjula found it difficult to converse.
She can read and speak Gujarathi but in lowest volume that’s hardly audible. Studied till standard IV, she was married at an early age. Soon her husband Harilal abandoned her with toddler daughter in a delusion that she is mentally unstable. Helpless Manjula took refuge at her mother’s place. And after the death of her mother she was immediately brought to oldage home.
When asked about the daughter, her eyes turned abnormally red and the weathered skin shrank even more. “Her father took my daughter away one day, I imagine her getting married. But no one informed me about her well being,” she said in Gujarathi.
What a contrast Manjula is to the women who arise in morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.
Probably she wakes up thinking about her daughter every morning. “Yes, she remembers her daughter and misses her native place a lot,” said the caretaker. It’s easily visible how alone she is among the people who have their own share of cheerless stories. Who will tell them whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, makes it worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.
After a moment she was found staring at nowhere without a blink. She rarely talks and suddenly bursts into tears for no reason, may be finding herself in a place where she doesn’t belong to, stirs her soul. Or thinking about all the rejected relationships she had been, would really put her into mental instability one day.
As of now Manjula is waiting for a piece of information about her daughter if at all anybody knows she was alive.
In spite of having a family that could have been a happy one and lots of relatives, why women like Manjula are destined to a place like oldage home. Why they are bound to live life without a substantial cause that leads to that nothingness in their eyes? It could be a sincere responsibility for the society as a whole or ironically a lesson for self. The choice… is yours.

Savitri-journey of the wronged women
In a diversified society like India’s, you are going to bump into diverse aspects of women. The famous and educated ones stand on the podium to receive award on being the achievers and they further move on steps ahead to infinity while the deprived ones are pushed to the back of curtain where no one can see what is observable fact behind it. It is where lies the real happenings of the society where one do not want to venture out and give a human touch as all prefer to keep this picture of our country under the warps.
Let’s takes an opportunity and initiative to raise this curtain of mercilessness, and highlight these women who have grown old behind the darkness. Once a wife, sister, daughter and mother and today they are just hooked to one designation, asylum seeker! They don’t ask for awards nor do they ask for fame and money but only mercy as a woman to live as they want to with dignity and as a human being.
Why not give them a privilege to make them feel important and living? Why not let their heart speak out the emotion waiting to be revealed?
She spoke, but after shuddering and tear drops pouring down the memory lane as if the eyes having seen the world so long is speaking to us and to all those who matters...
“I belong to a small place called Chaal near Katghora where I lived with my brother and his wife. I was married at a very early age and widowed soon with no child,” she stopped talking with a ‘what to say’ expression. Savitri Bai Yadav was brought to Sanjeevani Oldage home, Raipur, on August 20 last year. She was found with a shocked face looking at infinity, drenched in rain and bruises all over her face.
Actually Savitri has been deceived by her brother Badar Saey who sent her here to check on a property. Savitri was left segregated at Raipur junction alone by the accompanied lady, an acquaintance to her brother. The feeling of dejection and shock deactivated her senses till the time she was taken into oldage home. She still wonders why her brother did this to her without any prior intimation because she used to feed herself with petty cash the domestic household work earned her. On asking how she spends her time here she says, “Because my right hand doesn’t work I can do only limited work. But quite comfortable with others.” The lady actively participates in religious activities and worships a lot in the small temple of her oldage home. May be she prays endlessly in hope that her brother would come searching for her one day!
Though she is mentally normal and feels secure here, but she definitely feels alone in the crowd missing her brother and village. Savitri seldom talks and when she does, it’s mostly about her village.
Isn’t it a perfect story of a woman left behind? They adore the successful ones and are ignorant about woman like Savitri. May be because they turn blind eye to them or doesn’t specify them as special to be noticed or just that –to be respected, be successful.

"It is a time when one's spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death."- Mark Twain.

A Woman, a mother, a no one…
They say mother’s love is deeper than ocean, bigger than sky, beautiful than a fascinating scenery, cooler than the shade of trees and sacred than any other shrine. Too short a definition on the eternal motherhood. Woman is a creation that has been inherent with mother’s love right from the day she is born.
Persisting on the International Women’s Week, we discuss on, Why they talk so much about mother’s love and not son’s love? Why her love is always far heavier than that of her son’s? It’s seldom heard that a mother has kicked the son out of house but it’s common to see a son pushing her out of shelter specially when she grows old.
This is about one such lady who is an accurate image of that mother whose love is a contrast to her son’s and who could choose to spend her life in an oldage home but wouldn’t want the son to go roofless.
“I have always been my own bread earner by ironing clothes and cooking food in houses of my locality. I didn’t want to become a dependent widow on my son and daughter-in-law,” sobs Ishwari Devi Panjwani, 65, a resident of Bajaj Colony and now Sanjeevani Vriddhashram.
Ishwari sought for shelter here on January 28 this year and is a mother to one son and grandmother of four grandsons. It questioned her safety when Ramesh Panjwani (son) and Meena Panjwani (daughter-in-law) constantly pressurised her to register the two-storied house on their name. The old lady could sense the insecurity, that once the house is their, her harsh family members wouldn’t let her in. “So I decided to stay at Radhaswamy Ashram for a while,” she shares. But they continued calling and visiting her that brought her to Sanjeevani oldage with a prospect of permanent shelter and security.
Mothers slog all through their life for family’s happiness with a tender hope that she would just relax in her armchair and read stories to her grandchildren. For woman like Ishwari Devi, such thought couldn’t be more than a fiction. But see the vastness of mother’s love, Ishwari Devi refused to file a case against her children because they would be left roofless after case goes in her favour. So, she forced herself to live in the oldage home. “No one would be happy in a place like this but I do seva here and help them cooking and gardening,” she says pretending to be happy.
Indian constitution says, you have the right to raise your voice against exploitation. No one can force you to do the thing you don’t want to, no one can perform an act on you that you deny to subsist. But women in our country are more or less forced to perform such acts, willingly or unwillingly. Here comes the question for Ishwari Devi, should a woman fight for her rights or save her children? Well ofcourse the latter one. Yes, the son calls her often but only to threaten for the house. He’s least bothered about what picture is he portraying of himself before his sons, regardless that the same situation could gear in reverse order from his sons’ part too that would leave him shattered!
Concludes Ishwari, “something is always better than nothing, so I am trying to settle in here.” She shares her story with none, but cries whenever she recalls what life has brought to her.
Hard fact is that women like her choose to continue living their life in exile, “she could solve her problem within a few days only if she agrees to disperse her son out of the house, the house that is her,” says the caretaker of Sanjeevani Vriddhashram. As an owner of the house she would have done this long before but the vastness of motherhood says, ‘I would have if I could have-only if it woudn’t be my son’.


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