Rest in Peace, Tejaswee Rao, the daughter of one of this blog founder members, Indian Homemaker.
Below is a re-post from Indian Homemaker’s sharing of the tragic news. Death, and loss are part of life, but each time it strikes, it is like a gut-wrenching, bodily blow below the belt. For us, the other members of blogosphere, even if we did not know each other personally, our hearts and souls prayed endlessly for a miracle for Tejaswee. It was not to be. We now pray that the family may stay strong and find peace to come to terms with their loss. But it never is just that, a loss. It is also a time when the brightest of moments of the time together come to the fore, and a great deal of positivity stems from that. Here, is what IHM has shared on her blog.
Hugs and Prayers, IHM. To say we share your feelings, is inadequate, we know, but we do.
It’s difficult for me to talk about it now. All I would say is we have decided it would help tremendously to channelize our grief in some positive direction. A relative hugged me during her funeral and said, “Now this grief will go with you to your grave. Till the last moment of your life, till your last breath, this baby you gave birth to and loved is going to make you cry.” And suddenly something snapped. My daughter was an easy child to raise. My dearest friend and my closest ally, a confidante, a companion, we talked endlessly, we shopped, we read, we laughed at the same things and I never had to face any of the parenting problems one hears about. I feel I was extremely fortunate to have her with me for the best nineteen and a half years of my life. The thought of crying and not smiling fondly whenever I thought of her – a girl who never made anybody cry… I knew I did not want that.
We have all decided to talk about her without bitterness. One of her closest friends visited me and helped reactivate her Facebook account. (I had persuaded Tejaswee to deactivate it last month because I felt she was spending too much time on facebook). We have decided to understand that everybody has to go someday, she left earlier than we would have liked. We have decided to see which of her causes we can support. One of the thoughts is to start a scholarship in her name, maybe a fund. I would appreciate suggestions for this. And also any suggestions that help us stay positive.
She was once
Ostracised by society
Thrust into the obscure background
to be an inauspicious entity.
Ten, twenty, thirty-
However many summers
Her life may have seen
She was now to lead a wintry existence.
Her mind was a darkened room
No ray of happiness to relieve the dull decor
Happiness? A thing of the past
Memories, of another life, dreams
Were all she had.
Unwanted, wretched, miserable, neglected-
With a shaven head and a haggard look
Draped in a faded white sari
She sat (nigh on two centuries ago)
In a corner of a room in her brother’s house.
A little boy saw her through the window
And exclaimed: Oh look Ma! At that dirty ol’ ayah!
Ma looked up, and turned her nose up too
With her lips curling into a sneer, said-
Don’t look, son, she’s an Indian Widow!
The hands of the clock move on steadily
Untiringly they passed, ten, twenty, thirty…
A hundred years more.
And steadily occurred changes
The Parliament moved into action
And brought legal, logical changes;
Law, the agent of social control, gave justice
And widows figured mighty prominently.
She moved forward, and away
From the obscure mists of injustice
And developed an entity, and identity.
Some said, (the laws did her such good, that)
She positively bloomed!
Well, to say the least
As the years fled by,
So did her inhibitions
She became a woman, normal as the next one
And sustained her authority in society.
Yet, again, she became the cynosure of all eyes…
Married women said, of her, (enviously)
She was lucky, she could have such FUN
It was like this young man, who asked his mother
About a beautiful, gregarious lady he’d seen at a party
Oh look Mom! who’s that dazzling beauty?
And Mom, poor Mom, turned green with envy
And replied: Don’t look son, she’s the Merry Widow!
Down it echoed through the halls of time
Till it reached the ears of Ma-
Who still maintained that the lady was
An Indian Widow.
[The above is an ancient, rather childish write, of an aeon ago, written at a versification competition, in college]
Widowhood in India is an exceptional status, for ever so many reasons. Centuries ago, as per the rules laid down in Manusmriti, and a male dominated society, who perhaps thought it would be life-threatening to accord too much of a status to women, women began to be subjugated. It is interesting to note that in the Srimad Bhagvatam, in the chapters on the Varnas, and the Manvantaras, and the Canto XI, in which Uddhava is given advice on life and society, there is much said about how women should behave, and their comport, etc. which is highlighted by the different acharyas who explain it, at the Sapthahams, but never do they give any emphasis on what men are to do, as part of their duty as well, which is clearly outlined as well- that they respect women, undertake certain duties in the household…; that part is conveniently glossed over!
And so to the status of a widow, in India. From someone who fell to being no-one only because her husband is no more, she has a load to carry. Of expectations, of non expectations too. Expected to be a certain sort of person. Not expected to ever be happy without her spouse by her side, or be part of any auspicious things in a household.
Well, law has banned the practice of Sati. Which perhaps is unique to India. The ultimate proof given of how devoted one is to one’s husband. Indeed a crime, it is by law. But how far has it been implemented? Aren’t modern day Satis still revered? Has anyone ever asked them if they truly did want to be one?
Ok, Sati is perhaps a bit extreme. Why don’t we discuss re-marriage? A widower who does, gets empathy, advice, and encouragement, more so if there are children to take care of. A widow? Even in this day and age, there is only a small percent of women who actually re-marry, and those who do, face much by way of opposition, maybe not confrontational, but subtle and equally disturbing.
A colleague of mine, someone I really looked up to, had this to say, about how undertaking and observing certain fasts, and special days, makes you blessed. There is version of the Karva Chauth, here in Kerala, where women celebrate their marriage, and those who are single pray for a good man. It’s called Thiruvathira, and it occurs sometime around December/January. It is supposed to mark the celebration of Lord Shiva’s birthday by his consort, Parvathi Devi. Women, on that day, pay their obeisance to Lord Shiva, and do not eat rice, or anything to do with rice that day. A special payasam made of arrowroot powder is prepared; they are to eat only certain kinds of vegetables, and finally have beetel leaves and nuts (like paan)- at least 101 beetel leaves! They sing songs, do the Kaikottikali (it is also called Thiruvathira kali), play on swings, etc.
Now, this colleague was telling us how a woman from her hometown was blessed because she observed this day, and the fast religiously all her life. She had an abusive husband, and alcoholic too, but she was blessed because of this observance on her part! Another friend and I rejoiced, when we thought that it must have surely helped change her husband! The kinky part is here: our mutual colleague tells us, in hushed tones, that she died, before her husband did, as a “Sumangali”! That was the blessed part!!! Jeez! To say I was aghast at the thought of an educated, literate, woman of the world mouthing this to me, is putting it way too mildly. So, in effect, all those whose husbands are no more, are sadly not blessed at all! What a thought!!
Even in this day and age, is prevalent, such notions, and much discrimination.
So, if a widow remarries, is she brazen? But a widower who does is given sympathy!
If a widow would like to participate in certain functions, there is a natural bar and she cannot, because she is not a Sumangali! Is that Justice?
A woman who can go on with life, and seem to enjoy it, without her husband, who is no more, is being disrespectful to his memory?
I find myself deeply angered by these notions, these expectations we foist, when we forget she is just another person, and woman, with the same needs, fears and life as others.
Why do we need a special day to spread awareness about girl child?
Why is it that even today one gender finds it tough to be part of mainstream society?
Meet Chutki…..go here to see her playing to her heart’s content.
She will steal your heart…..I guarantee you that…..
Just don’t steal her life……and all that is rightfully hers…
Another Chutki could have been someone’s daughter….
But she was killed before she was even born…
This Chutki too, is a product of someone’s imagination, an animation on the computer, nothing more…
For,she too ,battles to come into this world….
She is fighting to be born…
To be someone’s daughter..
A family that will not just love her but make her feel cherished too….Daughters….so much has been written about them…
Here in India, daughters, those of us who were lucky enough to be born, are fighting a battle so that daughters continue to be born in the years to come..
[ © Usha Pisharody of A Quest…! dated 19 June, ’07 ]
laughter ringing clear-
warm hugs and
little sudden pecks on my cheeks!
A whirlwind of a girl;
now here, gone in a flash!
Long long hours of girlish talk-
boys, books, heroes and men!
Life, love, trust and THAT!
while ogling the boys…;)
summing them up, then
walking by in disdain!!
– Belated Happy Father’s day to my Papa
Ten minutes back I got a really good intellectual mail about some story related to spirits and the mail ended with some common and very well accepted generalization that MOTHER’s play bigger role in child’s upbringing than the FATHER’s do.
But I m not buying this generalization at any cost. This is what I feel.
You just cant generalize that mothers play a bigger role in child’s up bringing… it depends family to family, house to house, person to person…there must be numerous cases where father’s have played a bigger role in child’s life.
No doubt mothers take care of their kids from their bath to their studies to their friend circle to their dirty nails to their parent-teacher meetings…but its father who give them all what make life look so simple and easy going…
Father is a figure of sacrifice and discipline. Kids and mothers buy new things on every here and there occasions but I have never seen any father doing such expenditure just because he is committed towards his responsibility of giving his family all comforts.
- Behavioral, social, and emotional problems: Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, oppositional behavior, and disobedience; fear, anxiety, withdrawal, and depression; poor peer, sibling, and social relationships; and low self-esteem.
- Cognitive and attitudinal problems. Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege.
- Long-term problems. Higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships. [excerpt ends]
[Guest post by Apu of Apu’s World.]
Excuse me for being a little angry here but what is it with (some/many?) Indian men and their huge sense of entitlement? Perhaps I should add a caveat here. You may (if you are a man) jump in and say, but, not all of us are like that. True, true. But, here’s the thing – there are enough such scum around that incidents like this one are only too common – a 25 year old woman in Mumbai, a mother of two, was gang raped and then burnt, it appears, simply because one of the assailants had been rejected by her a few years ago. Acid attacks on women who have turned down a man or broken off a relationship are only too well known.
It is a normal human tendency to feel sad when rejected by anybody. But, where is this sense of entitlement and anger coming from? Why this feeling that she must like me, I am too good to be rejected, I cannot possibly be turned down?
In my opinion, this starts out with the preferential treatment that many boys receive at home. Let’s start with simple things like the traditional Indian style of eating where the mother cooks and keeps serving while others eat, and then has her meal once everyone is done. The girls in the family too are roped in to help mother in the kitchen, as soon as they are old enough. The boys? The boys sit and eat their hearts’ fill. Perhaps this is why I’ve often seen men help themselves and even empty the vessel without any thought of whether the women who will eat later will have enough. When the message is that everything revolves around you, why bother to contradict that?
Food is just one of the many ways in which boys are subtly and un-subtly told that they are better, that they deserve the best, that in fact, whoever denies them what they want is simply wrong. In case you think it is only a few backward people who behave like this – unfortunately not. The scale of discrimination may be smaller in urban families but it is still there. Boys may be allowed to set the table, for instance, but in South Indian households, they will still rarely be allowed to clean up after meals the traditional way, where you sprinkle water and use your hand to clean. This is demeaning to them you see, although its perfectly ok for girls. Ecchal Idardu is what we call it in Tamizh, a concept difficult to translate into any non-Indian language, but would roughly correspond to jhoota saaf karna (झूठा साफ़ करना) in Hindi. I remember once going to a relative’s house, where after lunch, their two boys were excused while I, the guest was asked to clean up, because, that’s what girls are supposed to do!
It goes on in many other ways, including the amount of freedom girls and boys are allowed. (Girls are told that this is for their own safety, while the truth is that many crimes against women occur at home and are perpetrated by relatives and so-called friends). Of course, while every other Indian household is this way, not every boy raised this way is going to become a killer or acid-thrower. We can’t deny though that such conditioning is a great way to make boys (and the men they become) think that the world owes them everything. It develops a false sense of manliness based on others kow-towing to you rather than on reciprocal, affectionate relationships.
Movies too have a role in promoting this ideal of manliness. Mainstream South Indian movies have taken this to an extreme with the Cult of the Eve-Teasing Hero, who mysteriously, gets (often, more affluent and educated) beautiful women to fall for him because of or inspite of the tactics he uses, which the more sane among us would only call sexual harassment. Great role models for boys in this country! Should we wonder that some among this lot aspire to darker versions of what their heroes practise on screen?