This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 34; the thirty-fourth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "Of-Course, I'm insane"
“What!” Mom shot up from the chair as if her chair passed electric current.
I looked at her startled,” What!”, half reclining on my bed.
“You will not keep Karva Chauth fast!” She carried on the same tone.
I looked at her raising my eyebrows,”so?” What did I do to draw such a reaction!
“You know what Karva Chauth means? Why Maithili? Why you have to do it every time? Has this modern education robbed you off all your sensibilities? We always gave you freedom to do whatever you want. Does that mean you will not show even scant respect for your culture? Are you….”
“Mom, mom…relax…relax”. I knew I had stirred up a hornet’s nest and mom could go on and on, her anger rising with every question shot in my direction.
“Mom! It is not about culture or Indian values. It is about my unborn baby. Come on! It is my seventh month. Why should I torture my child for this ritual. Anand doesn’t want it. My parents in law don’t want it. I will do it next year, mom, I mean…what’s the big deal!”
A shadow of despair passed her face. She gathered herself from initial shock and said in solemn voice,” That’s the problem with your generation. For you it is just a ritual. If our wise ancestors made this ritual, there has to be some concrete reason behind it. I observed this fast when I was pregnant with your brother. All women do. It is an honour for a woman to die ‘suhagin’. They say once you start keeping this fast, you should never break the chain, it attracts ill luck. What if …” She halted herself. For her even uttering these words was sacrilegious.
This was not the first time we were arguing over rituals, traditions. I always found myself at loggerheads with mom on such issues. She demanded absolute compliance and I…explanation. It caused her immense pain that she couldn’t raise me in a manner most suited to Indian society. All other girls in our extended family, neighborhood were perfect examples of docile, demure daughters, always following what they were told to. Only she got a girl who always caused her embarrassment by her behavior. I wondered what hurt her more, my defiance to the rituals or my plain disobedience.
‘No, I can’t let it end on a sour note’, I pushed all other thoughts out of mind and said, holding her hand,” Mom, please sit.”
She flicked my hand annoyingly. I firmly pulled her by her arm and made her sit on the chair. Perhaps thoughts travel better at same level. I sat upright in my bed and started hesitatingly.
“Mom, I know, how you feel about it. But don’t you think it is a selfish thought after all. Why I should ever wish to leave Anand behind languishing without me, in the age when he needs me the most. Isn’t better that I stay with him till he needs me.”
This was enough to blew her mind away. Mom shouted at the top of her voice, ”Maithili, You have any idea what are you saying. Are you…”
“Ofcourse, I am insane.”I retorted, hijacking her words. “What do you think, I don’t love Anand? Do I not want him to have a long, healthy life? Of course, I do mom…more than anybody else in this world. I am not against Karva chauth, for God’s sake. But every ritual, every tradition has relevance as per prevailing social fabric, system and values. It might had been relevant at a time when there were large families. Ageing men of the house were accorded the place of head of the family. A whole bunch of children was there to take care of them. They were consulted before every important decision. Their every word was received reverentially without question.”
I looked at mom if she was still with me. But she was fully attentive, ready to pounce on the next point of disagreement. I continued.
“But, now times have changed mom…180 degress. No more joint families, we have just one daughter. These days even sons fly away looking for greener pastures. A person, once retired, is treated not more than a non productive burden. Society has changed, but men are yet to accept the situation. Ouch!” My baby kicked inside my tummy. ‘It must be a boy then’, I wondered.
But it softened her grandma’s stance, who at once felt concerned, “what happened?”
“Nothing, It is okay,” I calmed her down, putting my left hand under my bulging belly. “So, where were we? yes, men haven’t changed. They still think their responsibility is limited to earning. They are dependent on women of the house for all their basic needs. After retirement, they need their partner the most, mom, because they cannot handle solitude. They are emotionally not as strong as we women are and Anand is no exception! If I go first, what will he do? He cannot cook beyond a cup of tea and Maggi . He cannot manage house. Leave alone that he cannot even find his pair of socks without my help, though they are always kept in the same place. He will need me the most when his limbs slow down, his eyesight fails him, when his ears refuse to hear properly. What if he, God forbid, gets confined to bed, becomes a vegetable! I cannot leave him to anybody’s mercy just to get my body wrapped in red.” I finished hoping that I was able to drive home my point. If only my mom gave up so easily!
Mom was staring at me in disbelief. She managed to speak finally,” Then you will be left alone, who will take care of you if you become, what you call ‘vegetable’?”
“In an ideal situation, I would say we both die together. But, if one of use has to bear that agony, then let it be ‘me’, mom! Because I love him more than the rituals” I said, weighing every word carefully.
I don’t know, my mom gave up completely on me or she did find some logic in my blabber but didn’t utter a word. “I have some chores to manage in kitchen”. She got up and left the room, banging the door. Oh! She made her point clear. I, still, am the ultimate ‘black sheep’ in the family.
Karva chauth Festival is a fast observed by north Indian married ladies for safety and long life of their husbands. It is particularly a difficult fast to keep, because from sunrise to moonrise, they are not suppose to eat or drink anything.