She clad in the simplest Gujarati saree will not strike you as any different or special in a crowd. Walking in the heat of the sun all alone delivering lunch boxes in offices is how I have seen her since a very long time. This is the story of my friends mother Kavita aunty (name changed for anonimity). This story is not uncommon in India. Parents get the children married early, especially girls thinking they won't find a better match later and then leave it to luck, her entire life. If she had the right destiny she will get the man of her dreams and if not, then she has to live it the way Nargis struggled in Mother India the movie. She will have to still look after the family that mistreated her and bring up the children of the man who uses her for child bearing and as a maid that maintains his house. He believes he supports her by running the family and has all the freedom to do what he wants. A woman being economically dependent cannot do anything for her honor. She rather wishes her parents killed her the day she was born to save her from this.
Kavitaji's story had two characters without whom her life wouldn't be this; a tyrant mother in law and a drunkard husband. As a young bride Kavitaji had dreams of a happy family, crashed the day her mother in law physically abused her for dowry. She endured it thinking her husband was okay and tried to find a little corner of satisfaction in his existence, but alas that wasn't to happen. After the initial days of marital bliss, her husband started it too with whatever he could find. That wasn't all he was a drunkard and a gambler. He would win big and drink it out or loose and drink out of loan. There was barely money for food. The mother in law taunted her that her bad luck brought it all on the family. Even when she was pregnant twice she could hardly get food, her mother would come to give her some food and money or neighbors fed her feeling pity, but not once her husband or mom in law would though in that womb was the DNA to their lineage and would carry their surname.
She endured the pain even with two children every now and then, smiling through tears, operating through neighbors who would often feed her children. Then her mother in law took to bed, She did her duty with grace though there was no money she borrowed, but for how long. Then a friend suggested she work for a pencil and sharpener companies who would give raw work like putting on labels and she could do it. She did it when her husband wasn't around. When he would discover he would burn every little thing that she brought home to generate some income and feed her children. Then the husband took to cancer (courtesy all the bad habits) and there was no money. She decided to take on her age old love for sewing and started that. He complained he couldn't endure the noise. She worked for someone else while the elder daughter (my friend) not so old enough (only ten) would take care of the father and the little son (five) cried for the mother or clung to his sister. Her efforts couldn't save the husband who went through a worse hospitalization phase generating bills and one day took a safe exit from this world. It was a momentary relief for her if at all.
After the respects were paid to the undeserving yet departed soul (then suddenly becomes deserving) as people he took loans from, she had no idea of started demanding money. They has barely managed hospital bills. there were little children to be educated. So then Kavitaji requested them all for time. She started cooking and sending lunch boxes, making snacks on contract and would go and deliver them herself. Some she paid with money, some with food and some with both. She was generous and as word spread about her food so did about her story and many women with similar problems joined her. They started the first "Mahila Gruh Udhyog Bhandar" of the town.
Its 15 years now since her husband passed away, she has started smiling recently. The business is running well and she also go her own house, her little son is studying engineering at a reputed college and daughter married after completing CA to a well deserving gentleman. She managed it all out of her business that started with a small kitchen and now has a hall like working space where I go when I have to stock up my khakhra's for hostel life. When you walk in there you see women who are beaten up, mistreated, abused in many ways and have no money get a new life while working there. It isn't easy for Kavitaji, many a times she has been attacked by husbands and families of these women she tries to save. She is strong, nothing scares her and that scares most. She stands brave when someone comes to fight and attack. She has rescued many. Being alone in her darkest days, she knows what its like and tries to be that support for the other women (she calls and means sisters).
She inspires many and is invited to speak in public at many gatherings.
You see a short woman in a while saree speak in Gujarati and when she does you know this speech will make you conquer every darkness around you like she did. It is said every adversity is opportunity but complexed with pain, you can only imagine the magnitude. She was a good daughter-in law, a good wife, a responsible mother, a successful entrepreneur and above all an iron lady.
Here is what you should do, reject the OR and embrace the And with Gillete, watch this not to miss inspiring video: