Monday, February 15

The Silent Spirit(s)

I know a woman. A woman with immense strength and character; a woman whose age is catching on to her. An unexpected call from home, each time, sends shivers down my spine  and I hear myself saying "Please, oh my, please, let her be-I cannot let her go just yet".

I consider her the "Martha Stewart" of our family- be it the food she cooks (rather cooked, she cannot do much these days) that tickles ones tongue or an embroidery pattern that flutters ones heart. She does not stop there- she composes devotional songs, the words for which are straight out of her soul and she sings them too. She is a great singer by the way (I learned the little music I know from her).  She is unarguably my biggest inspiration during my creative process. I do not think any of her children have her zeal for life (well they are all grown up now and they are different people!).

Dei sub numine viget (Under God's power she flourishes), this woman truly believes that her life would not have been possible but for the help she got throughout her life in various forms. I have not known another person who is forever thankful to God for sending help when she needed it the most.

"Some of the strong women from our family"

It was in 1927, she was brought to life into an intellectual clan in a village by name Mannargudi (in Tamil Nadu). I remember her making it a point to tell me (many times indeed) that she was the sixth child and being the sixth was considered unlucky. I am not sure if it is because she was born after 5 others or not but she definitely could have had a better life and she deserved one just the same.

Leaving a suspicious, jealous, abusive husband who lived off the proceeds from HER family should have been easy- but not in those days- the pressure that society put on women was enormous (it still is, is it not?). She got out of one hell hole only to fall prey to the hurtful things that people had to say about her situation. She kept at it though- got two master's degrees (regrets not having gotten two more), taught high school children and raised her own 4 children. There would days when all five of them would go hungry for months together. But in the end, the five of them came through it all just fine. She even published a book of her compositions.

She hardly ever used to complain about it before, but now with age, her weakened spirits and strength have  paved way for self-pity and regrets from the past. She feels lonely, worthless and considers herself a burden on her children. She does know that I love her to death. To me what is very interesting- staying strong for so long (for her children mostly) and not letting her guard down (staying strong as a full time job impacts even the best of us) seems to have an impost on her. I can only imagine the state of one's mind when they go through rough patches constantly in their life, how unfortunate can it get. One can argue that there are people who have done worse, but it really does not give any hope. It breaks my heart when she hurts even a little- no one can hurt her anymore, I will not let them. She is now under my protective custody! So back off demons from her past... let her be, that is all she is asking of you.

Why this post now,

Violence, especially, against women and children, is pernicious. Several NGOs and government organizations are working toward putting an end to domestic violence around the world. Domestic violence was recognized only in 1983 as a criminal offense under Indian penal code section 498-A and a domestic violence act aimed at protecting women in a domestic set up was passed in 2005. It is shameful that even now about 70% of married women in India are victims of domestic violence. Women are still reluctant to report violence against them. Violence and abuse have a severe impact on the victim's mental health and their self-esteem takes a huge hit. International Women's day is fast approaching (the theme this year is equality)- please do whatever little you can, to spread awareness about victims groups and rights in place to help them through their ordeal.

PS: you can read more about domestic violence here and here.

No comments: