I was 10 years old, when my mother took me to a wedding. I didn't know whose wedding it was, all I knew was I can taste a wide variety of yummy food.
As we entered the wedding hall, I saw all my neighbors there I looked at the bride and the groom, "Oh that's Shiva Anna (bro). It's his wedding." I was happy, he looked really handsome and the bride was equally pretty.
We wished the couple, gave them a gift and walked into the dinning hall. I had all the delicious food and my favourite Jamoon with Ice cream too. Our part in blessing the couple was over and we reached home.
Shiva bro who used to spend much time with all the kids in our lane got very busy after his wedding. We always found him going out with his wife and spending most of his time with her. She always had those glass bangles, red bindi and jasmine flowers on her head. One morning, I went to their house, she was busy cooking, Shiva bro's mother introduced me to her as the naughtiest kid of our lane, she smiled at me and I said, "Sister you look so beautiful, I too wanna wear bangles, bindi, flowers this yellow thread (Thali) around your neck and kumkum on my forehead but my mother said I am not supposed to until I get married." She smiled took me to her room dressed me up, braided my hair and pinned flowers on it, stuck a red bindi between my eyebrows and slid some bangles in my hand which were too big for me but I still loved wearing them. When I asked her for that yellow thread and kumkum on my forehead she said, "Those should be worn only by married woman," I said, "I will get married soon then," she laughed out loud and I happily ran to my house.
Everyday, the minute I reach home I will fresh up and go spend time with her, I was always behind her and my presence did not disturb her.
One evening, in the month of August at around 5 pm she received a call from Shiva bro, he said he left office early today and he will take her out so he asked her to be ready. She asked me to watch TV and she went to get dressed, when she came out of her room I said, "You look so beautiful." I remember her wearing a beautiful red saree, matching bangles and jasmine flowers. It was 6-6:30 and he still didn't reach home. She kept calling him but he never answered her call. It was 7 pm and he still didn't reach, she looked very distraught and disappointed, she finally received a call from his number, her eyes were gleaming with happiness. She answered the call but her happiness vanished in seconds.. she screamed! What? When? Where? Which Hospital? I was sitting there clueless, she ran to her father-in-law and said, "Appa he met with an accident they have admitted him in the Hospital!!" they immediately rushed to the hospital and I ran home crying and told my mother. She said, "Shiva is a nice boy nothing will happen to him just pray to God." I prayed a lot that night for Shiva bro's safe return and slept.
Morning I woke up to someone's loud cry. I ran out to check who it was, I saw my grandfather standing I asked, "What happened grandpa who is crying?" without answering to my question he sent me in. As I went inside my house the cry became louder and louder. I asked, "Mom who is crying so loudly?" My mother said, "God took Shiva with him," and silently she'd tears. "But I prayed to God. why did he take him?" Mother said, "Because God loves him more."
With my mother I went to see Shiva bro, I felt as if he was sleeping I looked at his wife her face and eyes were swollen as she had been crying. Days passed my mother did not let me go to their house as she thought I might trouble her. Finally after a month or so I saw her, she was going to a shop, I ran to her and she smiled and asked, "Why haven't you come to see me?" I said, "My mother asked me not to trouble you. Why are you like this? You like wearing bangles, flowers and bindi?" tears rolled down her eyes she said, "While going your Shiva Anna took all that from me so I cannot wear them anymore." I kept looking at her as I did not understand what she meant. She walked away and I ran into my house and asked my mother, "Mummy you said Shiva bro went to God and God will give anything we ask for. Shiva bro could've asked for anything from God, why did he take his wife's flower, bangles, kumkum and bindi?"
My mother said, "It's because people in our society believe all of that which makes a girl look beautiful belongs to her husband and that is why when husbands die a girl is not supposed to wear all of them."
Me be at that age I listened to it and let it slip off my mind but when I understood the ugly truth, it boiled my blood. She has lost someone whom she thought was her life and now she is forced to lose all that made her happy. Why? Did she not wear all those before the wedding? Then why is she forced to sacrifice? Just because no other men should get attracted to her beauty? Then how about a man? A widower? How do we identify if a man is married, unmarried or widowed?
The day we abolish these kinds of injustice to women is the day "Every woman would get freedom in our country".