Wednesday, 3 September 2014

There was an old widow by name Parvatamma in a small town where I was living once. She lost her husband at very young age and since then she lived all alone in a big house with dogs and cows. She was known for her acid tongue. She always used to walk on street with a cane (the one usually teachers use in school to beat up the mischievous kids).People would call her eccentric. We kids would never miss a chance to irritate her. We would call names from hide out while she was walking on streets. We would throw stones at her windows; we would burst crackers right in front of her window or where ever the cows and dogs were tied up, just to irritate her. This woman would come out of her compound and shout at us or our parents. Our parents would come out and defend our acts by saying-‘’they are just kids and it’s their age to do pranks” as we all knew we have people to back up our acts, we never tired to mend our ways. When it went to the extreme she stopped complaining and started beating us up when she caught us in act. One day a kid was caught in his act and she was beating the kid, his parents came out to defend their kid’s act. Old woman v/s parents’ fight started. She was all alone defending her act by saying, I warned you all that your kids are causing trouble to me and my pets but no one tried to change their ways so I was forced to teach lesson to your kids. But the parents party (by then many others also joined) started shouting at her, few lines were like this-“if you ever had your own kids’’. “What you know about kids as you never had one of yours”. When she started shouting at a man in the crowd, a woman came for her husband rescue and she went with a line-‘’ don’t dare to shout at my husband you widow, you don’t even know what it is like to have husband.”

Fight was started just because a kid was troubling her but the conversation went out of track where everyone in the crowd was trying to say she deserves such treatment because she is widow, she is living alone, she got no family. Then the fight ended with someone yelling at her that ‘Your one leg is in grave,still you don’t act like a lady, maybe that’s why your husband died so soon”. By then old woman was in her tears but still she didn’t give up, she started shooing the crowd with her signature cane. Fight ended.
Later we all kids were scared even to go near her house let alone troubling her. But she had to go to extreme to teach us lesson. At one point I got to see her from very near, which was when my father was hospitalized. My mother used spend time in hospital looking after my dad. This woman would call me and my brother and give us something to eat in the evening after our school and ask about my father’s health and my mother. I saw her compassionate side but still it always etched in my mind that she is a bad woman because she got acid tongue. “You don’t act like a lady”-this sentence always stayed in my mind.
Recently I came home in the evening and found out my electricity has been disconnected by electricity board though I‘ve paid my bills on time. It was around 5 in the evening; I immediately called customer care and informed them. I got a reply that someone will come to fix it and sorry for disconnecting by mistake and also they sent a text to my mob saying ticket has been raised and it will resolve in an hour. No one turned up, so once again I called up customer care after an hour and half. Again they apologized and gave me my area technician no. I called him up, he asked me to come and show proof of receipt in the office. I did as he told and he promised that he will come soon and fix it. No one turned up. After calling Nth no of times to the customer care and finally I had to threaten them that I am going to police station and lodging a complaint for disconnecting my line for no reasons and harassing me for no reasons. That was time customer care guy gave me some officer’s phone No and asked me to contact him. I called him up and gave my story by then it was 11pm in the night. He was like it’s too late for anyone to come and fix it. I am like why should I live without electricity when I’ve paid my bills and the board has got 24/7 service? Fight went on, I wasn’t ready to bulge and stood on a sentence that either fix my connection or I am going to file a complaint against the technician and officer for harassing me when I am right in my part. Finally officer gave up, he sent someone to fix my line at mid night. But the fight ended with a note from him that-“I don’t act like a lady’.
That one sentence bought me into tears and is it crime to stand up for what is right? I’ve been struggling without electricity for 7 long hrs and when I asked what exactly is rightfully mine-I became a no lady?
From nowhere Parvatamma resurfaced in my mind. Even she was called that she cant act like a lady just coz she stood for right things. I just started feeling even my tongue is turning acid just like a parvatamma, so am I bad?Am I being in a making of one more parvatamma?
You all know, I am a single woman living all alone in a big city. I got no male in my family as all the males of my family came for a conclusion that world is not a good place and went to the heaven’s way. I stay alone because I’ve no other option. The way society look at single woman has not changed though the centuries are moving fast along with technology revolutions.  A grocery store guy makes a pass at you and if you shout back, people comment at my status that I am living alone and I’ve to face it. Some drunkard knocks at my door in mid night, if I complain that to the apartment association, I get an answer-It’s all because you live alone. So what should I do? Living alone is crime? Should I die then? Defending myself makes me a bad woman? Woman needs a husband, father or brother just to be respectable in society? What about people like me who lost brother, father, husband in the game of fate?
In the entire scheme of thinking even women don’t lag behind. Even they are also responsible in causing a distress to another woman. I had a crazy neighbor who was always wanted to keep a tab about my life. I own the place where I live, where she was just a tenant in the building. I lost it when she went on calling on my cell crazily just to find out where am I, when I was in my father’s funeral. After I got back from funeral, I complained about it in my association saying-for years I kept quiet though she has harassed me in many ways but this time water has reached my nose. Can anyone imagine how association reacted? No one was sorry that I was standing in my father’s funeral when I was being harassed by a female and they just rubbed me off. I can go on with my stories and the treatment of the society.
Why Parvatamma became a bad woman? (Bad woman-according to prejudiced society) who made her to become eccentric and walk with a cane in hand all the time? I have seen her only when she was old but how was her life as young widow living in big house? If she was treated with little compassion and without being judgmental about her life, she wouldn’t have ended up with stupid cane in her hand to shoo away the people she comes across. If she wouldn’t have subjected to the scene where she needs to defend herself all alone among the crowd, her tongue wouldn’t have turned acidic. Survival in the society made her the woman she was.
So am I being Parvatamma? May be, because I need to survive in the society. I dont want to be a living victim,I hate playing a victim role. Do I have option? If no one comes for my help in my distress, I have to turn acidic to defend myself, so that makes me a bad woman in prejudiced society.
Parvatamma died years ago and left all her property in a trust with a will to turn her house as a school for girls. Now her magnificent house has become a School for girls with free education. On her birthday politicians come there and make a speech about her and distributes sweets to the crowd. Did anyone bothered to wish on her birthday when she was alive? Did anyone respect her life while she was breathing?
This is how our society is, people don’t bother to help a girl in distress but easily passes a judgment about her life but if the same girl dies, they will start a campaign for justice. A black dot on a profile pic of social media to show their support for victims but they just close their eyes, ears and all possible senses when a girl around them is in distress and turning her to be a living victim. They all think that their own daughters or woman in their life will not become a victim but they leave no stones unturned on a living victim.
Death is necessary to gain attention for justice? Living victims are not entitled for justice without being prejudiced in society?

Whats my view on candle light march? Well, let them do the march because I recently read a report that candle making factories are shutting down as the demand is less due to techie revolution in market. May be this kind of candle light March helps a small scale industry like candle making factories to breathe for a while.
 I support Candle Light March Because- I want small scale industry to be in profit :P


  1. A hard hitting post. We all have Parvatamma in us. I liked the conclusion of cottage industry. Blown my mind away

    1. Thanks Datta Ghosh. My point is-Candle light marches may not serve the purpose but it is helping the cottage industry :P

    2. He He. I liked your point :-)
      On a more serious note, I liked your post. You have narrated well and expressed your feeling aptly.

  2. Absolutely to the point...

    1. Its easy to put across the point when one goes through it everyday.

  3. I think you had shared Parvatamma's story before. Am I right, Knitha?
    Very right questions raised.
    Wish people aren't so judgmental. They don't know us or our story...

    1. Anitha,I spoke about Parvatamma for the first time in my blog. My electricity episode is just few days ago and I just remembered her after that officer called me that-I dont act like a lady.Also this Indispire topic came at right time and used it to vent out :)

  4. Hi Knitha,

    Yes, we live in a two-faced society that is harsh on women. I hope things change for the better. The entire sequence about Parvatamma reminded me of RK Narayan's writing - really well-written.

    Regarding what people say - remember the old Rajesh Khanna song - 'Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna.' Keep smiling and keep blogging.


    1. True Mahesh,we live in a 2 faced society. I realized it quite early in life. When life left me with option to lie alone in life,I thought things would be different in big cities,But sadly its not. As Rajesh Khanna's song its Logn Ka Kaam...Keep smiling and keep blogging Mahesh:)