Aashiyana looked blankly at her eldest son Radi, her husbands lifeless body lay on the bed, having taken its last breath not a moment before.
"Did you hear me widow? You are cursed and must leave us, we will not feed you, you should choose death to free you from being condemned to such a
Before she could comprehend the death of the man who had been her husband for 43 years and with whom she had borne 4 children, her daughter in law
Lakshta began to rip at her clothes and jewelery.
"You are a mother no longer, you can no longer wear these jewels"
Aashiyana looked blankly at the bleeding scratch mark on her arm from where her clothes were being ripped from her body.
Lakshta threw a white linen cloth on the floor at her feet and indicated with bulging eyes that she was to put the white cloth of the widow on.
Before she finished pulling the cloth around her in sari style, she was dragged to a sink where her daughter in law forced her head down by pulling
on her long graying hair. Lakshta the daughter she had welcomed into her home began to cut, nay hack the hair from her head. She lifted her head when
the hacking was done and Radi gave her a razor silently, and careful to make sure he made no skin contact with her. She had no mirror, the were too
poor, however, she did as her duty required of her and reached the razor to the tip of her head and began to shave what clumps were left on her
That done, before she could look a last time upon her husbands body, she was pushed through the door-less frame of the home she had known her whole
married life and unceremoniously forced to her knees on the street. She stood up and began to walk away from her home, she did not look back, but
simply paused when she heard her youngest daughter weeping for her from the doorway.
As she walked down the dirt road of her village the faces of those she had known since she was reborn into this caste shunned away from her. Her
neighbor Vahni, a white haired friend with whom she had raised children as a family walked behind her and spat upon her back.
"I am filth, I am cursed" She thought. The spitting and curses intensified and forced her from the village that she had never left once since the day
she was born. She fled across a field she had tilled through monsoon and oppressive heat to feed her family. She felt her back hunch over in shame as
it dawned on her that she had outlived her husband and brought such a curse to her family. She was now an unwanted burden. She knew her very touch, or
if someone was to even hear her voice, was considered unholy, FILTH.
She was now deservedly so, shunned and despised she thought.
She wandered to the edge of the field and sat huddled on the dirt, there she would wait for the funeral. She had heard of a girl, a widow at 14 years
of age who had gone to the holy city of Vrindavan. There widows could beg outside the temples for food.
'Such shame, such shame!' she thought. She imagined the wrinkles already etched on the young widows face. She was married for only 2 years, and now
was condemned to being a untouchable for the remainder of her life. She closed her eyes. And waited.
Sati, she waited for the goddess, she would be embraced again.
She peered from a distance at her husbands body as it was laid on a pile of wood, the men chanted to Yama, invoking the god of paradise to admit his
soul through cremation.
Radi her eldest son, took twigs of holy kusha grass, flaming, from the untouchables and placed the eternal fire upon his fathers body. He walked
around the pyre counterclockwise – he did this because in death everything is backwards, so it has always been so it will always be. Radi was a good
He lit the pyre.
She came out into the funeral and the crowd of mourners parted before her so as to not touch her. Radi did not look at her, nor mourn her and in turn
she did not weep either as she climbed up upon the pyre, searing her hands, shins and knees.
The pain licked at the front half of her body, as she faced down towards her husbands body. The acrid smoke like a blessing from the heavens lulled
her to sleep till she felt no pain.
The corpses were nearly completely burned when Radi cracked the skull of his father with a long bamboo stick, releasing his soul from his body.
Their ashes were gathered and flung into the sacred river.
The mourners walked away without looking back.
All that remained of Aashiyans' life as mother and wife was a charred square of white linen cloth that floated away as if in search of paradise.
There are 40 million widows in India, many if they do not embrace Sati, live as outcasts...they are the untouchables.
edit on 19-1-2011 by
zazzafrazz because: (no reason given)