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I did not tattletale on him to the elders or pick up a fight with him, I simply ignored him and went about my task of doing what I wanted. Hehe! That frustrated him more.
In 2019 our beloved writing contest, Muse of the Month gets bigger and better (find out how here) and also takes the cue from the words of women who inspire with their poetry.
The writing cue for August 2019 is this quote from the poem Stanzas by Emily Bronte, whose 201st birth anniversary just went by – she was born on 30th July 1818.
“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading;
It vexes me to choose another guide:”
The third winner of our August 2019 Muse of the Month contest is Yamini Ramasubbu.
Hi there! I’m me. I can’t tell you who I am because of my husband’s name in the history books. He is famous, you see. Very famous, actually! So famous that he came dangerously close to being worshipped, but others in the present are taking care that no such thing happens. I don’t particularly mind these new developments. Hahaha!
Enough about my husband. I was always his shadow, and even here he is trying to take over. But to be fair I don’t seem to be able to separate myself from him either, we were married that long. Too long if you ask me now, in the 21st century, but in my times, I had no way of voicing this depraved thought.
Depraved? Did I use the adjective ‘depraved’ to describe my thought about being married to him for too long? Ha! Ha! I keep forgetting I’m writing ‘now’ and to ‘you all’. Depraved, my foot! That man lived too long for my pleasure.
“Smalls, will you get married to this boy? He is from a very good family and we believe you will be happy. Also new clothes and sweets, what say you?” asked my Ma one day.
“New clothes? Would all the cousins come? Would we get to play the whole day?” I asked in reply.
“Naturally!” said my Ma.
There – the matter of my marriage was settled.
I was quite young when we got married; not that he was any older. But he was a boy when we got married and he took his sweet little time to become a man. However, I was a girl when I got married, but my training to become a woman had started much earlier and before I knew it, I was a woman not much later after my marriage. Of course, I grudged him his boyhood and his unhurried ascent into manhood. So, I frustrated him as best I could by not bending to his juvenile fantasies of controlling me.
Once, for a brief period, I was so infatuated with a spinning top my mother had given me that I played with it with my friends for hours. My husband as was his wont tried to hijack the game. When I continued to beat his ass, he grew irritated and snatched the top away from me and ran with it.
“What will you do now? Your top is mine,” taunted the husband.
“Not a problem,” said I.
“Awww! Look at your eyes all ready to cry, but holding back tears,” teased he.
“I said, not a problem. Now go away!” replied I.
Much later, I showed him by saving enough money to buy a new top and play again with my friends. I did not tattletale on him to the elders or pick up a fight with him, I simply ignored him and went about my task of doing what I wanted. Hehe! That frustrated him more.
He would later go on to extol this as an instance of my persistence. The truth is, I was a girl and he was a boy. And he was no ordinary boy, he was my husband-boy. It would have been stupid on my part to complain against him and later get reprimanded by Ma. So, it was simply wiser to resist him for my own well-being. The vain man that he was, he would later take me as a lesson descended on earth to help him find his path. But I was just myself!
I had a few pleasant years with him before the children came. It was fun and carefree in hindsight. No deaths, no sickness, no struggle. Sigh! Those were the years.
“Of black and white studio photos and colourful village fairs.
Of melted ice cream drops on my blouse and his silent gaze resting on my bosom.
Of new urges and curious touches.
Of parted lips and tingling thoughts”
Naturally, the gods couldn’t take it anymore.
My boy-husband and I made out while his father was ill. That episode did not go down well at all, let me tell you. FIL died, husband was raked by guilt, and I was left to my imagination, budding breasts and remorse all alone!
This episode was one of the many in the next few years which rocked our marriage in intervals. But our bodies, hearts and minds were still young and wanting, so we would leave our past behind now and then. Only now and then resulted in children! Also, it was not like now, so when I say children, I don’t mean those modern cute families which have only two kids or the cuter families which have one human child and a couple of cats or dogs. I had a bunch of them who came out of my womb.
“Listen, Girl, if anyone tells you that children are wonderful, quick, deposit your own at their place and go watch a play. Hahaha!”
Being a mother was fun, but I would be lying through every pore in my body if I were to say I did not find them exhausting at times. I have had stare matches with them to wear them down. Relax! I loved them and they loved me. No neglect and all.
If losing his father was my husband’s grouse, losing my eldest was mine. I don’t want to say anything further on that. I needed more to occupy me than my other children and all the physical exhaustion that came with running a household. I needed my mind to work – work so much that it did not have the energy to look back. In the meantime, my husband’s career took him to different places away from me.
“Did I accompany him?” you ask.
“Well, keep asking! No, girl! Things did not work like that back then. And yes, yes, we still managed to make babies between our sorrows and separation.”
My husband travelled and learnt while I stayed back and lingered. But like all women with not much to do with their brains in public, mine also developed in silence. I was sharp and deliberate. I was also quite and resolute. Nothing any Indian woman wouldn’t have been. My husband’s involvement in multiple community activities finally gave me the opportunity to work my own faculty. Oh, and how glorious it was! No, I was not being a mere supporting actor in my husband’s play. I was the lead actor in a parallel play.
“Girl, you don’t believe me; you think I’m being vain? No, you are wrong!”
The times we lived in demanded that we step up, including sheltered women like me. And anyone will tell you that when women step up, they go to the very top without wasting time. You just would have heard more about me because I’m one half of a famous couple, but there were millions and millions of women like me who propelled the movement forward.
“I don’t want to elaborate much here because, well, just go pick up a good history book, you, lazy bum!”
Anyway, did I tell you that children give a woman joy also many aches and some chronic illness? Well don’t let my sprightly nature fool you, I was getting old. And much before my time, because of all the protests, fasting, marches etc. Occupational hazard, if you ask me. And to add to my many woes, my husband and his selective righteousness was a big pain right in the middle of my butt. Hahaha!
But I laboured on, not because I was devoted to him, which many historians seem to have concluded after they performed a special, non-invasive lobotomy on my brain. Bull nonsense! I laboured on for the cause I believed in. I laboured on because I was bound by society to follow my husband, sure, but also, I was bound by my will to follow it.
“Don’t you get tired of all this?” asked my foreign lady friend once.
“I do. All the time. I want to run away from all this,” I said.
“Then why do you continue?” she asked.
“Because we are not free. First, as women we are not free and now to encumber us even more, as a whole population we are not free. And I want to be free. I guess I’m fighting for my own freedom,” I replied.
“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading;
It vexes me to choose another guide,” quoted she, from some poet.
Yamini Ramasubbu wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: a still from the movie Mi Sindhutai Sapkal
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