Sati: She couldn’t Live without him

She accidentally crossed the mirror that was hanging on the wall. For the first , time she saw her face without kungumam and nethi chutti. Her red saree was dripping with water and the dye made the floor blood red. Her two teenage daughters were crying in the corner of the house. Not that anyone had forced to take her jewelry off but what’s the point of adorning herself. He was lying on the portico and will be carried in few minutes. She knew women wouldn’t be allowed near the fire. The rebel she was..she insisted. This sorrow, this emptiness, this feeling of dying was familiar to her. He had gone on a two month journey on foot and bullock cart to varanasi when she heard from the locals that many had died there. They said that probably he had died too. She knew he would come back and she waited. She couldn't forget her neighbor, young man, who visited her since then in the name of consoling her. She turned him away at the door everyday to save her dignity. She would sit at the window for hours together waiting for her man. She had forgotten to eat. The only time she moved was to make dinner to her daughters and helping them with their studies. It was a miracle that he came back safe. Her prayers were answered. She ran to her Pooja room and touched the photo of Rama and Sita..her ideals..her role models.

This time she knew that her man being carried away to the fire wouldn't come back. What would she do without him? She thought about her daughters. Ever since their puberty she had taught them the nuances of leading a dignified life. They would be married to her brothers sons who had promised that her daughters would continue education. Who would take care of lakshmi, the cow? By now Ramu was capable of taking care of her by himself. Who would feed the orphans at the ashram? She had trained her brothers sons on minute details of running the orphanage including cooking and finance. The young boys were now fully self-reliant. Who would she wait for everyday? Who would she dress beautifully for? Who would read her poems? Who would listen to her vision for free India? Nothing seemed important. Everything that she did, cooking, singing, cleaning, rangoli, praying was centered only around him..as an expression of acknowledging his presence. The center is now gone. She thought of Shiva’s Parvathi who jumped into the fire when Mahadeva was insulted. She thought of Savitri who followed her husband to heaven. She knew that her Tapasya was not enough to bring him back. She was standing there near the fire, her saree drying in the heat and her face dripping with sweat and tears. There was no meaning in returning to the empty house. The only thing that had kept her moving is now gone. “What message would this send to other women of the village? How would historians distort my act long after I am gone? How many would write about this as suicide?”. Before anyone realised, she jumped into the fire shouting his name for the first time since they were married and for the last time. She knew that her body was a mere mortal coil, the soul had long departed and to merely live in that body without it’s center would be more painful than death. She couldn’t care less for historians.

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