TOPICS: Ordeal of a widow

The death of a family member is always the cruelest of all misfortunes. It becomes more so when the person snatched away is the husband of a young woman. The picture couldn’t be more sordid if the deceased leaves behind young issues. The Nepalese social system is such that it rarely supports or speaks up for a destitute woman. Whatever the circumstances, they are always unfortunate.

Even in the present changed scenario, parents, having got their daughter married off, wash their hands of her. Apart from the customary visits to the parents’ house, if she is going through a rough matrimonial patch her parents rarely counsel a girl. They consider it unwise to interfere in the other’s family affairs even when their own daughter is married into that family. It is largely due to this lack of support from the parents that a girl starts to compromise beyond the limit of decency.

Ranjana, a cousin sister of mine is a living testimony of such incident. She is widowed at a young age in an unfriendly environment and with two suckling kids! Her late husband’s family made her sign a number of legal papers. She didn’t even know what they were. By the time she understood, every thing had gone. Her parents refused to support her in claming her property back. The poor woman succumbed to the circumstances. It was foolish of me, I let myself be robbed, she says. Had she got some support from her own parents she would have raised her voice and fought a legal fight in the court to get her property back. Girls at their parents’ house are raised in a protective, pampered environment. They are not taught to fight their battles alone. As a result of this they don’t know what to do if an adverse situation arises.

In our society, love and care are given to a woman and her children largely because of her husband. History, and many day-to-day examples are proof of this. If no concern is shown to a woman by in-laws, it is only because she is their son’s wife. There is hardly any individual relationship involved here. So, once their son is no longer alive, they find no reason to be fair and reasonable to his wife. Even when the in-laws are loving and caring, the equation changes drastically after their son’s demise. His family is more of a burden than a responsibility. The truth is bitter.