We took a vow to be there for each other during sickness and in health, to love and to cherish and till death do us apart. But there were few hidden and unsaid vows that I made when I married him. To leave my family behind, to adapt to the new family that I have adopted, to understand everyone from day 1 I started living with them, to take care of his needs and put his ambitions and dreams ahead of mine, to care less for my career than his. I swore to be the cool breeze when he is angry, to be a soothing music when he is frustrated, and to quench his lust everytime he came to me. All these did not feel like a sacrifice because I knew he loved me unconditionally and I was happy.
The day he flatlined, I realized he owned me in ways I had not imagined. I became a prisoner in my own house. I was not allowed to go out and enjoy the evening walks. I was told that wearing my favourite saree and bindi was inappropriate. I couldn’t laugh out loud or talk louder. I was expected to be sad and mourning the rest of my life because my husband died. When I was seen talking to a man I faced disgusting looks. It was not normal for me to feel the positive feelings a normal human being should feel. It was a sin to be happy. I had to change myself and be mindful of being watched all the time. I am supposed to be myself because it is illicit. Afterall, I had lost my husband and so I am disqualified to live life like a normal human being. I knew he wouldn’t have wanted this for me if he were alive. But then his family and society thought otherwise. Because I am a widow, yes that’s who I am. I am supposed to follow the protocols set by the society. Thank God, I am not in 12th century or I might have to immolate myself with my husband in the funeral pyre because how can a woman live after her husband?
They say marriages are made in heaven. Maybe it is to them but to me it is a legal bond to slavery. They wouldn’t ask a man to stop living his life if his wife died. He can still remarry and it will not be an issue. A man is not asked to change his surname after marriage, so why should a woman change her surname? Marriage should not be an identity for a woman. It should be a part of her life just like how it is for a man. A woman should be allowed to decide how she should live her life after her husband dies not the family of hers/her spouse/the society/not anyone but her. Stop judging her decisions, stop watching her all the time and make her feel tiny. Yes, she lost her husband but that is not the end of her life. She can still live on, live her life and dreams. She is free to go wherever she wants to and do whatever pleases her. A man is seldom referred to as a widower but a woman always gets her identity! A widow – Person who is not fit to live as per her will after her husband’s death she is supposed to cringe and die everyday while she is still alive. Everytime, she wants to move on from her husband’s death the society would keep reminding her of it. She should live, support and cherish her. Don’t destroy her. She doesn’t need your sympathy all she needs is motivation to get on her foot and live life the way she wants to. Lead her into the future instead of dumping her past into her head and letting it decide her future.
I wrote this after watching the society strip off her life from a woman after her husband died. This may not be the case in every family or for every woman who lost her husband but it still is in few houses and I wish that situation changes for all women someday!