Ek chutki sindoor

My son was being extremely fidgety. We were riding back home, well past his dinner time, and I was at my wit’s end trying to calm him down and get home soon. And we got ourselves a red light at a junction. Great. And then I heard them, the rhythmic drum beats that can only be a funeral procession. I distracted my son with some thing and just peeped outside to see if it really was a funeral. It was – I saw the body being carried, with the dancing men in front and a bit of a procession.

What I saw next was like a punch to my gut. There were a bunch of ladies walking behind the body and 4 of them were supporting a woman who could have only been the bereaved wife. She was crying. And she was wearing a flower garland, with flowers in her hair too and her forehead was smeared with turmeric and vermillion. Because once they reach the crematorium, all those things will be mercilessly tugged off and wiped out from her person. It churned my insides to think of that cruel ceremony where a bereaved wife is made to wear all the ‘symbols of marriage’ one last time, for her dead husband’s funeral procession.

Because that’s how we treat widows here. We give them more pain as if what they’re going through is not enough. I couldn’t get that picture out of my head. I’m still thinking of it now, writing this. And it got me so angry, so damned angry at whoever thought up all this, for whatever reason (because I’m sure reasons are what our ancestors had in plenty).

As children, when we used a bindi for the first time or adorned our hair with flowers, we weren’t married. There was no husband. The bindi and flowers came first. The husband came many many years later. Why then are we made to give them up when the husband dies? What fucked up (yes, we swear on this blog now, get used) idea is this to be even more cruel to a person who only needs our empathy and support?

But hey, I live in a country where Sati used to be a thing. What more can I expect?

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