What changes ?

I have just finished a fascinating book called The First Promise. It is written by Ashapurna Debi and has been translated from Bengali to English by Indira Chowdhury. The story is set in late 18th century and early 19th century. The heroine is Satyabati and she is not like other women of her time. The author has beautifully depicted life in rural Bengal and in Calcutta. The lives of women have changed a lot but their emotions, their needs and desires are still the same. Even now not all women are free to fulfil their dreams.

The other day we read in the newspaper about a man damaging the voting machine because his mother did not vote for the candidate he had told her to vote for! One wonders if two hundred years have passed since the days of the story.

This somehow reminded me of a couple we used to see some evenings. Walking past their house I would see the old man in a wheel chair and his wife reading aloud to him. I had not seen the gentleman in his younger days but I had heard that he had been a different person during his youth. He had taken his wife for granted and had cheated on her. There is this arrogance in that period of life when many do not think about old age, about the time when they would be dependent on others. Old age seems far away and it is as if it happens to others. On the other hand, I read in the paper about grandparents forcing their minor granddaughter to marry a middle-aged man who had raped her. How could they do that? Do people really change with the time? Two hundred years ago girls were married off very young. Not much has changed.

Not hundreds but thousands of years ago life was the same. I was listening to the story of Lord Krishna narrated by Shri Bannanje Govindacharya. Narkasura had imprisoned hundreds of young girls. Krishna helped free them. He asks those girls to return to their families. The girls reply that they would prefer to remain in the prison because society would never accept them. They would forever be labelled as girls who had been in Narakasura’s prison and would be looked upon with suspicion.

It is sad but even now it is the same and very few have the courage to stand against the dictates of society. I often wonder who are these people who think they have the right to pass judgements. I have asked some friends about this but they have no definite names. They are ‘people’, nameless and faceless. And it scary how they are able to control people, through the ages.

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Narakasura – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narakasura

Krishna – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

Bannanje Govindacharya – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bannanje_Govindacharya

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8 Replies to “What changes ?”

  1. I am sorry to hear that things are that bad still. Here we often find the same ignorance. I knew a pastor who thought his wife was not a virgin since she had been raped. He thought that made her less than an ideal wife. Such thinking!

  2. On the positive side, Asian women in Britain, both Hindu and Moslem, demand their rights and repressive men, while still there in healthy numbers, seem to find it a little more difficult to order everybody around than they used to.

      1. It’s interesting for me to see that when I travel there as well. In some places progress has been made for women and in others not so much – sometimes in the same neighbourhood.

        In some ways that’s true here. There are regions that are still very backwards, and people whose minds are still very much in the past. Oddly enough there are still some women who agree with that.

        What I see here, though, is that there’s a bit of a split between what is said and what is done. We talk a lot about respect for women as a part of our culture, but then behind closed doors (sometimes house doors, sometimes government office doors) things are still very different.

        I hope someday these battles won’t need to be fought.

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