Hers was not a familiar face in the neighbourhood when she arrived with her one-year-old boy. On her first look she resembled a face from a Shakespearean tragedy; frail, docile and naïve.
At a tender age she saw too much—husband’s corpse, in-law’s refusal , parents’ denial, society’s negligence and well wishers’ sympathy; while all that she needed was only a few opportunities and someone to trust her abilities.
Life is not about the opportunities one is blessed with but the choices one makes in the gravest adversities. A widow and a mother she was when came now turned into someone to write about.
She spent years in earning her “AND”—an epitome of a transformation that breaks all shackles of social prejudices in a gender biased society like ours.
She knew how difficult the journey would be, yet she continued with her modesty and audacity. Alone she stood defying all sacrosanct codes of conduct that had relegated women since the moment first rule was written ignoring our Vedic social structure where women shared the same kiosk with their male counterparts.
Over the years she became a vital health supplement to a healing society that had been suffering from the pestilence of dominating its women.
She never compromised neither did she complain; all that she did was to prepare her solemnly for better days. Each day she lived seeing how close she would be tomorrow to her dreams.
By sacrificing desires and limiting demands she denounced all that could distract her from her determination. Working in a super market as a cashier she managed a child and her dream to be a state civil servant officer.
Last time I went home after ten years and saw her; draped in a purple saree she was going to office. A car with a red light on its hood was waiting outside. Before she got inside she looked at me and smiled. It took me some time to react.
It was not because I could not recognise her but I was not prepared to see her that way. And instantly I new she earned it—her dream, her pride and most importantly her dignity. Things have changed and people have transformed but her modesty still reflects in her smile.
Later I heard that her son is now working in a bank and looking for a suitable match.
Years ago I looked at her with pity and now with pride.
My writing career brought me near many women of great virtues and every time I mingled with them each one asked me how different they are and if anytime I would write about them to which I replied, “It’s not about how different you are but what difference you made in your life.”
But now when I am writing I am doing so for the one who never even knows that I write and would never ask me this.
Yet I do not know her name. She is only an “AND”—yes that’s what she is!