Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The soothsayer's words-part III

Sita did not answer for a long time. Ramya was fuming from within but managed to keep her thoughts to herself. How easy it was for these intruders to subject her dear aunt to this sort of emotional black mail. Would all those years lost in solitude ever come back? Finally Sita spoke.

“I’ll accompany you to your place but on one condition.” She said. “Your father should not try to get familiar with me as long as I stay at your place. He is a stranger to me and will always remain so. I have often thought over the joke that my marriage turned into and tried to assess in my mind as to what went wrong. For some strange reason I never felt like blaming your mother. If her troubled mind would find peace on meeting me, so may it be. But my compassion for a dying woman should not be mistaken for any weakness of character. I am well past my youth and it would not harm me to spend the rest of my life with my brother’s family. You are right in a way. If you had not accompanied your father with your personal request I might have found it difficult to believe in the gravity of the situation. Just give me five minutes to pack. We can leave immediately.”

Sita’s brother could not bring himself to send her alone with two men who were practically unknown to her but Sita had no such problem. The three of them left by car and reached Hyderabad early next morning. Hari’s wife Lakshmi was in very bad shape. But her eyes lit up on seeing Sita.

“Akka” she said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper, “I knew you would come” Forgive me for having taken your place in this house. Believe me, I was not aware of your existence at the time of my marriage. In our times we girls were kept out of the negotiations that precede marriage. I often thought of you but could not bring myself to ever meeting you in person.”

“Hush, Lakshmi do not strain yourself” Sita said. “Please do not blame yourself. You must to forget the past and concentrate on getting well.”

“I will Akka” smiled Lakshmi in spite of her pain. “I do want to spend sometime in your company. I want to see you take your rightful place in this house. Only then will I feel forgiven by the almighty.”

Unfortunately Lakshmi’s desire remained unfulfilled and she passed away that very night. Everyone who came for the last rites including Lakshmi’s parents urged Sita to stay on. Hari could not look at Sita in the face much less request her to stay back. Arun was wary of saying anything to the effect lest his intention be misunderstood. He was full of respect for the woman who could have made life hell for his mother but carried herself with a dignity that was difficult to describe. She seemed close enough and yet maintained a distance. She got involved and yet stayed aloof. It was as if she had drawn a line between right and duty and stuck to her duty but never crossed over to claim her rights.

Finally the day came when Sita’s brother who had come for the ceremony to return.

“Pack your things Sita,”he said “let us return home.”

“Let me remain here for a few more years Anna” Sita said “I’ll return once Arun gets married and a daughter in law takes charge of the household. Lakshmi would never forgive me if I left him alone in his grief. He is already twenty three and has taken charge of his father’s business. We can get him to settle down in a year or two. I don’t need to stay here after that.”

Sita’s tone ruled out any further discussion in the matter. At the risk of sounding like the script writer of a Bollywood commercial film, I have to add that Arun did marry Ramya and Sita spent her remaining years fussing over them like a mother hen. She never ever spoke to Hari who in turn respected her wish and accepted her silence as punishment for his conceited indifference towards her for no fault of hers.

It may appear that I was influenced by your inputs to thus end the story. Not at all. This story is based on real life incidents and I have tried my best to report it as such. My question is ‘Was Sita’s decision to accompany Hari and Arun and to continue to stay there even after Lakshmi’s death a sign or weakness?' How would those of you who subscribe to feministic views react to this story? Please remember that all this took place more than 50 years ago.

18 comments:

Srijith Unni said...

I had not read the first 2 parts because i wanted to read the entire story completely.. Find it very hard to hold back suspense..:)

However found it a very engaging experience. Sita is truly a woman of great dignity, who chooses to honour a dying woman`s wish, at the same time maintaining her composure and self-esteem by not going easy on her husband as well.

However i believe the husband also has character because he also does not think about disturbing her..

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

Altoid said...

Hey HHGmom,

Going just by whats presented, in my opinion, regardless of the time and age this happened in, I think its a very natural thing to happen. I dont believe for one bit that it was a sign of weakness, its just human nature and human bonding. Sita did act maturely but with compassion so she stands tall. Her silence definitely must have sent a strong message to Hari.

Good tale though and thanks for sharing.

--altoid.

starry nights said...

I don't see this as a sign of weakness.she held her position in dignity and did what she had to do with respect. I am sure once the daughter in law took over she returned to her home.I don't think she will stay on forever because ther is no bond ther between husband and wife.

Deepthi said...

Gran,
Quite moving story..I think Sita did what she felt was right.She maintained her dignity and self respect.I wish I knew her..wait I do all the women I came across in life have"Sita" in them and carry the torch....

Vijay said...

Hi Gran,
Nice story...
To err is human, to forgive is human
but to forgive,forget and beget is a woman...
Weakness is seeing your enemy suffer after a victory
Strength is lending a helping hand to him
I think what sita was all this and more...

Monika said...

i had been reading it from the time the part I was posted, somewhere as u know i guess the Arun and Ramnya's marraige part. Actually I feel proud that Sita did go with Arun and Hari to honour Lakshmi's dying wish and give her peace, actually she was not at any fault at all. By doing this she has demostrated a lot of strength but somehow I can't make myself on terms with the fact that she choose to live thereon... What could be behind it, is the motherhood in her that gave up seing Arun? Can't really understand that

itchingtowrite said...

good ending... satisfies the feminist in us...

apu said...

The Sita you've shown has a strong mind of her own. But - at one point, the story comes across as illogical. Going to meet the dying woman to honor her wishes is commendable. But staying on ? This doesn't appeal to me. Why does she need to be so accomodating ? And yes, Lakshmi may have wished it, but so what - how well did she know her ? Do women need to be kind all the time ?

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I'm glad to note that all of you are able to appreciate Sita's decision to accompany arun and Hari to Hyderabad thereby easing Lakshmi's troubled conscience.I too felt that she should not have decided to stay back.This story was narrated to me more to stress the fact thatthe soothsayer's words came true.To be frank I was not impressed and held my view that it was a mere co incidence.I felt that with very little education Sita was able to show strength of character in being able to punish her husband even if only by her silence.Srijith is right.Her husband too took his punishment well and respected her wish and thus atoned for his act in his own way.Sita's decision should be viewed in her perspective.May be when Ramya married Arun she felt comfortable enough to stay on.had it been another girl as DIL she may have left.May be Ramya insisted on her staying on.I wouldn't know for certain.

Hip Grandma said...

altoid,vijay,and apu welcome here.deepthi am i right when i say that you have commented before?

hillgrandmom said...

I think Sita really comes out as a strong woman, a real feminist and her es husband saw that in her and so did not interfere with her. Kudos to her and to you HHG for sharing the story

Usha said...

It shows the kind of extra ordinary kindness and generosity that "uneducated" ( so called) women of yore displayed which we seem to have lost in our generations. I guess she was so used to being so self effacing and living for others that this was such a natural decision for her.
I salute her.

apu said...

hipG, thanks for dropping by ! I came to your site via Artnavy; and found much of your writing very interesting.. though some of the views are very different from mine. (Yes, I'm a feminist, though not a lunatic like some you've described)

Altoid said...

HHGMom : thanks for stopping by. Yes I am/was referring to Bangalore in my post. On that same road that was lined with gulmohars now stands a gigantic and ugly flyover. Ugh!

Deepthi said...

I did on other posts on this one yes 14th I did.....

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
Thanx for your responses.Let me give credit where it is due.My husband wasthe one who wanted to be part of my blogspot experience and suggested that i write this story.He pestered me saying that it would be well received and now he takes credit for being my inspiration.In a way he is my inspiration.I was a bit wary of being dubbed as anti feminist for making Sita staying back and getting her niece married to arun.But If real life stories sound like bollywood blockbusters i can only add that it is such stories that inspire our film producers.Here I must add that an earlier one about a 22 year old girl marrying her father's friend was also written at my husband's behest.I was not too keen to report it because it sounded far too gossippy.

All Smiles!! said...

I enjoyed reading the 3 parts. Good one... Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

This story reminded me of a Tamil movie I had seen long back..Almost the same except it was the husband in death bed.
Good one!

-Bhavana