The observation becomes a wee bit in-our-face when we are celebrating our festivals. Like today I celebrated Durga Ashtami just as countless others. Some more observations here:
I worshipped little “Srishti” (shown in the picture), along with several other girls considered to be goddesses, at least for today (and one more day of the year).
She then went on to be worshipped as Ma Durga in some other houses.
Srishti was born premature and nobody thought she would make it to her birth.
Nobody thought her mother Sheetal would survive either, as she was burnt horribly by her husband and in-laws while she was 4 months pregnant and then was left to rot.
Dowry, may be… maybe not… because everybody involved knew very well how much Sheetal’s parents could afford and they had already given more than they possibly could.
Maybe… the husband was just annoyed and he is a male, you know!
And heck, Sheetal was carrying a female in her womb, who does that?
Sheetal was married at 18 because it’s not wise to carry around a daughter of that age. It is a dangerous world after all.
The guy shown to the parents by the one who arranged the marriage was different than the guy who showed up at the wedding. But it doesn’t look good to return a baraat, now does it?
Sheetal had come back home once citing irreconcilable differences. But whoever’s heard of divorce? You adjust!
Can we or can we not blame the illiterate parents living in poverty, as they are but a product of the society’s heavily hammered conditioning. In fact, they went beyond their resources – financial and physical – to revive Sheetal.
Sheetal’s mom, the grandmother (who’s younger than me), a maid, worked hard day and night, hardly slept or ate, sold all her jewellery etc., prayed fervently to Ma Durga, but took care of Sheetal like an angel. I am yet to meet a human being with more positivity, faith and resilience.
As a matter of fact, the whole family took responsibilities they never imagined possible for their daughter/sister.
Contrary to my expectations, doctors at the government hospital were very concerned and sincere for Sheetal whose belly, neck and arms were severely burnt.
She couldn’t swallow for months and was on liquids through IV, if anything.
Yet the ultrasound showed a thriving heartbeat. Every single time.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to carry a child wrapped in a burnt paper-thin skin inflicted with various infections (while not many medicines could be administered because of pregnancy). So the doctors decided to take the baby out through a C-section.
The family needed money and they were out of work for months now. I tried to raise money through social media, apart from putting in what I could.
There was a lot of noise but the people who actually contributed money asked me categorically to not mention their names anywhere!
Srishti, aptly named for her resilience, defied all logic and was born normally, without a C-section.
If she isn’t Durga, I don’t know who is, although I don’t know what she is looking forward to in this world. But then, every soul chooses its journey.
While Srishti is being invited to houses for worshipping, Sheetal’s skin on neck has thinned and is sticking at the wrong places, so it hurts and bleeds when she tries to straighten it up. Same with skin on the arms. And yes, she is fighting incessant episodes of infection in her burns on the belly and everywhere else. She is 20.
Yes, it is an isolated incident. I don’t have relevant data to conclude anything.
To add an ironic twist (I swear, I am not making this up), Srishti’s father, Sheetal’s husband, is a purohit in a temple. Yes, it’s his profession to officially worship the goddess!
India is a strange country. We are strange people.
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