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She has a child next to her. I have one too. Mine sits in the passenger seat next to me. On our way back from school. Full of stories that I have for the moment stopped listening to. Because I am looking at that other mother.
Clay figurines. Colourful. Vibrant. Bucolic.
That is their trade. Dealing in snazzy, bright clay figurines, bowls, masks, wall-hangings.
They sit by the side of the road. Their wares displayed along the pavement. So people can see when passing – on foot, in their cars.
Every once in a while, someone passes in their car and then parks the car further along the road and comes walking back to inspect something that has caught their eye. They ask the price. Which is usually not too much. They still bargain. And eventually, at a much lesser price than the artifact is worth, they buy the piece. It will look amazing on their feature wall, they think. It will dazzle their boring passageway. It will welcome their guests warmly…
But more often than not, no one buys much. Especially on working days. Busy days. When the adults are rushing to and back from work and the children are tired, being taken to school and back.
But they still sit there. Their wares spread. Every day.
To one corner of their spread, is a little makeshift tent. With a couple of vessels, a few logs of wood, some tin boxes and rolled up bedding. This is home.
When it rains, they huddle in the tent. Under the tarpaulin, praying the water doesn’t enter the tent. When the wind decides to have its way, they roll up the tarpaulin, lest their only roof fly away.
And when the sun shines, or at least tries to shine as much as it can shine on a dull, cloudy day, they sit outside. On branches fallen from the nearby trees. Or on upended, used oil cans.
Like he sits there today. On a large, fallen branch on the pavement. Eyes listless, waving a stick in his hand. For no discernible purpose. Swatting at nothing in particular. She sits on the ground next to him. Her pallu covering her head, barely showing her face. But eyes clear, staring out at passersby, soaking in the sights. Between them, on her lap, sits their little girl, of barely three or four years. Writing something on a small slate.
As the signal turns red, several cars stop by the pavement. I stop too. Then I turn to look in their direction. For no reason.
And I see the little girl hold up the slate for her father to see what she has written or drawn. He doesn’t look. He is looking at nothing in particular. But he ignores her. The mother, on whose lap the girl sits, sees her show the slate to her husband. Sees the husband ignore the girl. Sees me see all this.
Our eyes meet.
She is a mother. And I am too. She has a child next to her. I have one too. Mine sits in the passenger seat next to me. On our way back from school. Full of stories that I have for the moment stopped listening to. Because I am looking at that other mother.
Just for a few moments. A few raw, real, embarrassing moments.
Then the signal turns green. And I glide away. Even as she continues to watch the car.
I can see her in the rear-view mirror for a long time. Long after she has turned away and stopped looking.
But her gaze stays with me. It pierces my heart.
She is a mother. And I am too.
Image source: Rashmi Raj
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With over 200 published stories, Rashmi is a lawyer-turned-writer, who has always given in to the lure of the written word. With three anthologies under her belt, and her blogs and articles on read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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For International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, let's look at how we 'accept' mothers who avenge violence against their kids, but not wives who fight back.
The silver screen is replete with depictions of male rage and men engaging in violence, but when women engage in violence, even when it is reactionary violence, it doesn’t sit right with us. We allow mothers (as portrayed in Sridevi’s Mom and Raveena Tandon’s Maatr) to avenge their daughters and resort to violence when all else fails, but when the abuser is an intimate partner, the rules appear to be different.
Depictions of female rage on screen garner mixed reactions. We root for protagonists and films we agree with like Mom or Maatr, but there are also films like Darlings which drew flak for its depictions of reactionary violence.
This begs the question, which women on screen are allowed to fight back and why do we root for some of these characters while refusing to see where others come from?
This Generation To Generation Violence towards A Daughter-in-law Needs To Stop!
It is ironic how women in the same home do not think twice before harassing a woman who left her parents and family behind to live with her husband.
“My daughter needs a husband who listens to her. He should leave his family to stay with her after marriage. He should be well-off and not let her do chores.”
“I also need an obedient daughter-in-law, who will be an unpaid servant and a punching bag who shouldn’t have a life of her own.”
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