This is part two of my previous post. As I had mentioned let me credit the women who took it on themselves to deal with these men.
Preeti was shattered and heart broken on her return from her honeymoon with Montu. Her trip to Darjeeling was a disastrous nightmare that she preferred to forget like a bad dream. Her family was enraged and rightly so. No one believed that Montu’s parents were unaware of their son’s mental condition. They accused them of deliberately ruining their daughter’s life. A divorce is the only answer they said. Preeti went back to her parent’s place to think of her future with or without Montu. She was glad to have family support and Montu was almost a stranger theirs being an arranged marriage. Two months later she surprised everyone by announcing that she wanted to give her marriage a try provided Montu’s parents co-operated and stood by her. She was just 25 years old and was under no compulsion-societal or otherwise. Today Montu has been given treatment and a transfer to a place closer to his parent’s place and between them Preeti and her mother in law take care of Montu and now have a baby boy who is the center of attraction. Montu is not a normal husband but Preeti has learnt to deal with him and her mother in law loves her for it. I understand how difficult it must have been for her to take the decision. With everything in their favor we have girls who crib and complain and here we have girls like Preeti who have such mental maturity and strength. Hat’s off my child! You’ve made your parent’s proud.
Rajan’s mother was just the simple Indian mother of the early sixties. Those were days when marriage was the answer to all problems. A wayward son? Get him married. Short tempered? Gambler? Unemployed? Marriage would make him responsible. And so what if it did not? A wife had to tolerate the most atrocious behavior and smile on top of it. So when she dissuaded her husband from continuing negotiations and adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach she was actually displaying a practical mind without letting her emotions influence her. It was not easy. No one wants to believe the worst. She must have prayed hard that her assumptions be proved wrong. But she preferred to accept the bitter truth than to spoil the life of an unsuspecting girl.
Finally Raman’s sister in law Prabha who was initially heartily disliked by his family since she did not belong to their community in the strictest sense. She was a Brahmin alright but she spoke a different language. There is a saying ‘teen Brahmin,terah chulhe’ meaning every sub sect among brahmin’s considers its group to be the best and refuse to eat food cooked by the rest. Then disaster struck. Raman’s unmarried brother died and his mother had to move in with the surviving son and unwanted daughter in law. She too died a year later. For the past 24 years Prabha has been taking care of Raman and he in turn helps her out with house work. He loves his niece and she reciprocates in equal measure. Uncle and niece share a rapport that has to be seen to be believed. I can understand a mother caring for a son or a sister being sympathetic towards a brother. A wife bonding with her husband may be a little more difficult but a sister in law forgetting the insult heaped upon her and gladly offering her schizophrenic brother in law a home and treating him with the respect and affection he deserves is something different. We may not be able to emulate her but the least that can be done is to appreciate her as the unsung heroine of our times.