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Every Indian woman does a lot for her family, that we might not always notice, and might not celebrate. Here is a tribute to all these women. Radha, the Everywoman.
Radha wakes up earlier than usual and casts her eyes at the bright dawn. The sun looked brighter – more invigorating. She peeps through the tin door to catch a glimpse of her children Raju and Savita. Their faces looked even more adorable against the solo beam of sun, on the folding bed. Radha makes her way to her kitchen to prepare her morning tea. She puts the pot of water on the stove and gets ready for her daily battle with the coal chulha – an old newspaper being her aide for a fruitful session in the kitchen.
There’s victory in Radha’s eyes, as she proudly looks up at the thick fumes gathering around the chulha. She puts the lentils to boil, cuts the remaining vegetables and finishes kneading the dough. The tea pot on the stove is lukewarm by now. She re-heats it and pours the tea out, and steps out of the kitchen to sip from her energising cup. The red rose in the brown clay pot uplifts her spirits. She gets back to the kitchen and starts humming a tune while cooking, despite the fire from the sun and the fire around. She smiles a beautiful smile, all to herself. She was happy. Mrs. Verma had invited her for evening tea.
Mrs Verma was the medical in-charge’s kind wife. Radha adored her. In fact, not only Radha but most people in their village admired and respected her immensely. She was a one-of-a-kind lady – very helpful and generous, very polite, patient and sensitive. She was the embodiment of a ‘mother figure’. Her soothing smile and gentle nature seemed to heal all pain. It was the kind doctor and the equally kind wife who had saved Radha’s son Raju, when he had fallen victim to pneumonia.
Radha finishes her cooking and makes her way through the creaking door to her bedroom cum living room, all drenched in sweat. It was time to wake up Raju and Savita. She wipes her face with a cloth lying on the plastic chair, lovingly calls her children out and opens the windows for more sun. She returns to the kitchen to soak the flat rice with curd and sugar for her beloved children.
Savita and Raju get ready for school in their coloured dresses, eat their breakfast and touch their mother’s feet before leaving, like everyday. Radha smiles and embraces her children. She notices Raju’s footwear that is almost torn and prays that her husband Raghu is able to buy a pair of shoes for Raju in his next visit to the town. She also resolves to start with her embroidery work and sewing so she can save a little extra for her kids.
Radha sweeps and mops the floor. After washing the daily bucket of clothes in her little courtyard, she is totally exhausted. The sun and the tube well have drained her. She restores herself with a refreshing bath, plucks a few white flowers from her plants to offer to the Gods. It’s almost time for Raju and Savita to return from school. She prepares their favourite green mango chutney to make their meal more interesting.
Over their afternoon meal, Raju and Savita talk about their day with their mother. Their mother listens intently to each detail. Radha could not appear for her matriculation (10th board exam) as the center was far away from home and there was no male member in the family to escort her to the exam center. She still remembers those painful tears but she tries her best to afford as many facilities as possible for her children’s education – books, private tutor, etc. She trades her comfort for a better future for her children, saving every possible bit.
It’s evening, time to go to Mrs Verma’s house for the tea invitation. She opens her steel cupboard and takes out a saree in vermilion red. This beautiful saree was Radha’s Diwali gift from her husband. She admiringly gazes at her reflection in the mirror, draped in vermilion red. She pours the two cups of Horlicks for Raju and Savita, takes the sweet mango pickle in a jar for Mrs. Verma’s daughter and starts for her home.
It was a half kilometre walk from Radha’s house to Mrs. Verma’s. They are greeted with an effervescent smile by Mrs. Verma, and settle down in the airy verandah, on the cozy chairs. A little later, the kids get up from their chairs and run to the beautiful green lawn. Mrs Verma brings tea and a beautiful home baked cake with ‘Happy Mother’s Day ‘ written on it. On one side of the coffee table lay a red gift wrapped box with ‘Dear Radha, Happy Mother’s Day’ written on it. The children, Savita and Raju, and Mrs Verma’s daughter Aadya join in the happy celebrations.
P.S. This post is dedicated to the many many heroic Radhas in our incredible land who brave difficult circumstances, toil hard to save a little extra for their children’s future and sacrifice their all for their children’s happiness/ secure future or simply to help them survive. You could find her fanning the chulha in the kitchen, so that she can save the money on the cylinder. You could find her giggling in her old clothes during the festive celebrations, so that she could buy books for her children’s new session at school with the money this saved. You could find her happily taking care of the kids 24/7, only to discover later that she has a Ph.D. You could find her battling her way through to her office on buses and metros, to make ends meet at home. You could find her mopping your floor, profusely perspiring, so that she can feed her children at home. This post is dedicated to you Radha, the Everywoman, every Indian woman. In your celebration, each day!
Published here earlier.
Image source: image of an Indian woman by Shutterstock.
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