I was the neighbourhood’s perfect ‘doting wife’,
Until three months ago,
When the signifying vermillion I had to forgo;
For no offerings to the hospital gods,
No divine ministrations of Dhanwantry,
Could prevent my husband from the snares of Mrityu.
My children and I were now forsaken,
By our delightful dreams and hopeful aspirations.
The prosaic plebian of distant kinsfolk and curious neighbours,
Overtook our lives, while we were still learning to cope.
Most would come and cast a pitying look,
Offered soothing words, and some, the food they had cooked.
Some had shared the obtuse silence,
Yet others couldn’t hide the sneer—
Beneath the polished varnish of sympathy’s veneer.
‘“Doting wife”, my foot!
This woman didn’t give a hoot,
While her husband cooked,
And she crammed herself with food.’
Sometime later, came the eager ones—
The one’s whose ‘help’ I must not ignore;
Who were ‘Just a call or message away’,
Mostly at late evenings or at night for sure!
These men I knew; and thought, I knew them well—
For some were neighbours, and some were my late husband’s friends.
Some promised me a job, and some sought to train me for the job;
Some offered to help in my daily chores, and some took it upon them to administer my home.
Some were married, and some were not;
But that palpable untamed lust seeped out of them all!
For a woman without her spouse,
Comes to be nothing more than a tool for venting man’s libidinal rouse.
She is an open invitation—
With little to lose or have any inhibition,
Or for men to care for their rejection.
She is a maimed by Fate, and is no more than a victim,
And must silently accept the neighbourhood’s dictum.
Thus, this is how I have come to wear the young available widow’s crown.
Now, you must wonder and must itch to know—
Did I accept the lechery they proffered at my door?
Well, to one I was indebted for my late husband’s treatment;
And the other had come like a brother to teach my children;
Another would come daily to offer me cooked meals that his wife would make;
Yet another was teaching me the tricks of book-keeping to salvage my late husband’s shop that was then at stake.
So, shall I exercise my choice?
Call out their grossness in my hard voice?
Or shall I accept the midnight calls?
Lewd messages they accounted to their night time’s inebriated form.
Shall I rat them out to their wives?
Or shall I leave it to the gods to decide?
Then one day I received a call,
The woman on the other side was calling me names of all sorts.
I was now the neighbourhood’s ‘widow bitch’—
One who eyes married men, and ensnares the bachelors rich.
Should shame creep up my eyes?
Should the scornful gaze cut me down every day at least thrice?
Should I give in to the fear,
That my children would succumb to hatred and despair?
Slander or sneer won’t crush a mother’s zeal,
Nor would leery lechery break a woman’s will.
Call me a wife, a widow or a witch,
I am Woman who wouldn’t mind being called a bitch!
#women #widow #breakingstereotype #