Check out the ultimate guide to 16 return-to-work programs in India for women
Her husband kept her away from all finances, and she felt it was 'protective' of him. But now that he was gone, how was she to understand any of it?
Amidst the thronging streets of New Delhi, where marigolds adorned doorsteps and the scent of incense lingered like a whispered prayer, lived my best friend Anaya. Anaya’s world was rich with the vibrant colours of saris and the melodic cacophony of daily life — a portrait of prosperity, a life seemingly secure in the hands of her husband Rajat, a paragon of success in the textiles industry.
Anaya’s home was an evidence of her husband, Rajat’s success, a sanctuary lined with the comforts and luxuries one could desire. Rajat was a successful businessman, a provider, a fortress of their opulent lifestyle.
“Anaya, understanding money is as important as earning it,” I’d tell her during our brief encounters, subtle in my attempts to awaken her to the world of financial independence.
“Rajat takes care of it all, Vani. He’s my safety net,” she’d reply, her laughter echoing a naivety common amongst the women of her circle.
“But —” As Anaya’s friend and as a financial advisor, I often transcended the boundaries of investments and assets; it was about empowering individuals with knowledge, about planting seeds of independence that would flourish in times of unforeseen storms.
“You don’t need to worry about these matters, Anaya,” Rajat would say whenever Anaya showed a flicker of interest in their finances. “Enjoy the life we have; let me handle the complexities of money.”
Anaya, adorned in her silk saree, would watch her husband shuffle through papers and make calls, her mind a whirlwind of silent questions. At gatherings, she’d often overhear snippets of conversations among friends, the words “investments,” “savings,” “passwords,” fleeting like birds she couldn’t quite grasp.
“Don’t you want to know? Just a little?” I once nudged Anaya in private.
Anaya would smile, a facade of contentment, “Rajat knows best. He has always taken care of everything.”
But the tapestry of her secure life unraveled with a phone call on an unsuspecting Tuesday afternoon. Rajat had been in an accident; he didn’t survive the journey to the hospital. Anaya’s sanctuary crumbled to a mausoleum of memories and unanswered questions.
Anaya sat in the silent echo of her once lively home, the air stale with the absence of Rajat’s laughter and the ceaseless pitter-patter of his business calls. The extravagant curtains, which he had picked out himself, felt like heavy shrouds, blocking out the light and trapping her in the darkness of her new reality. Her husband, the unspoken patriarch, had left her a widow, a single mother, and, most daunting of all, financially illiterate.
In the depths of Anaya’s grief, the financial documents and bank statements looked like an alien script. Each line, each figure on the papers, was a sharp reminder of her ignorance—a subject she had once found comfort in, mistaking it for security.
“Why didn’t I ask? Why didn’t I learn?” she whispered to herself, the words dissolving into sobs that wracked her delicate frame.
Her mind replayed the countless times Rajat had casually dismissed her timid inquiries into their finances with a wave of his hand, “Anaya, these are not your concern. Your job is to take care of the home.”
The home felt like a foreign place to Anaya. She found herself wandering from room to room, holding bills she couldn’t decipher, and facing the silent screams of impending dues and responsibilities that she was unprepared for. The emotional trauma was relentless, the weight of the unknown crushing.
She attempted to access Rajat’s computer, the login screen glaring back at her, asking for a password she didn’t know. “What secrets do you hold?” she pleaded to the inanimate screen, as if it would sympathize and divulge the pathways to the accounts and investments Rajat had so meticulously guarded.
Sleep evaded Anaya, replaced by a mental exhaustion that stemmed from the incessant calculations that refused to add up in her head. The figures danced mockingly, intertwining with the memories of a husband who had loved her but underestimated her, who had cared for her but not prepared her for a life without him.
The rituals that followed were a blur—white sarees, hushed tones, the constant stream of visitors. But in the quiet of the night, the haunting truth whispered to her, “What now?”
Rajat’s sudden demise was a brutal blow not just to Anaya’s heart but to the financial illusion she lived under. The opulence remained but the keys to its maintenance were lost in the abyss of ignorance. Anaya was left in a financial paralysis, her husband’s life insurance – a significant sum intended for their welfare – trapped behind the bars of procedural ignorance. The safe was locked, the accounts, a mystery, the investments, an enigma. Even as Anaya grappled with the sorrow of loss, the looming shadow of practicality loomed larger.
“How could he not tell me?” Anaya agonized over her brother, Aarav, who tried to help navigate the labyrinth of their finances.
“He thought he was protecting you,” Aarav said gently, but the consolation was a bitter pill.
The real work began in the weeks that followed. As financial advisor and Anaya’s friend, my task was to guide Anaya out of the dark. Our first meeting post the tragedy was in her home, a place where every artifact whispered Rajat’s name.
“How do we even begin?” Anaya’s voice was but a whisper, a mix of bereavement and fear.
“With knowledge, Anaya. That’s the strongest currency you can have,” I responded. “Let’s start by understanding the life insurance Rajat had in place for you and the children.”
The journey was laden with hurdles. Bank managers were cordial but their words were often laced with impatience. The language of finance was foreign, the procedures, a maze. Yet, with every fall, Anaya’s resolve grew stronger.
“I didn’t even know we had a locker in this bank,” Anaya remarked, as Anaya and I sat across from the bank manager.
“You’ll need the key and the password,” the bank manager said, nonchalantly, shuffling papers on his desk.
“But I don’t have either,” Anaya’s voice trembled.
“We’ll apply for a retrieval process,”I chimed in, my hand on Anaya’s, a silent bulwark of support.
The day the bank finally granted access to the locker, Anaya stood resolute. She sorted through documents, learning of assets and liabilities she never knew existed. There were life insurance policies, mutual funds, property deeds – pieces of Rajat’s foresight that were now in her hands.
“Why didn’t he teach me?” she pondered aloud to me.
“Maybe he didn’t know how to,” I mused. “Sometimes, we think we are protecting the ones we love by shielding them from the storm. But maybe, we should be teaching them to sail through it instead.”
We sifted through documents, I explained the terms that seemed like jargon to Anaya’s untrained ears, translating them into actionable knowledge.
“Each policy has a process, Anaya. You’ll need to file a claim, submit the death certificate, and provide proof of your identity as the beneficiary,” I outlined the steps, simplifying the complex to a checklist that we would tackle together.
“Proof of my identity? But I am his wife,” Anaya questioned, the bureaucracy of it all seeming callous to her grieving soul.
“It’s a formality, necessary but manageable,” I assured her.
It took several months in Anaya’s transformation from a bystander to an active participant in her financial recovery. It was gradual but steadfast. With each form filled, each call made, and each appointment attended, the mist cleared.
“Life insurance is not the end; it’s a safety net. Your next step is to secure your children’s future and your independence,” I counselled, guiding her investments into education plans and secure funds that promised growth.
“You mean, I’ll be handling my own investments?” Anaya’s query was laced with trepidation initially, but soon with curiosity and then determination.
“Yes, and I’ll be here to advise you every step of the way,” I promised.
As Anaya’s knowledge deepened, so did her confidence. The life insurance payout was a battle won, but the war was on financial illiteracy and the patriarchal shackles it came wrapped in.
Anaya’s story spread among family members and close friends where female folks lived veiled in the silence of ignorance that draped many women of her stature – the ignorance of financial literacy. Anaya’s home soon became a hub, a space where the narrative of empowerment was woven with the threads of financial wisdom. I would hold sessions, educating her and a growing number of women on the nuances of financial planning.
“Empowerment is a journey,” I’d tell them. “It begins with understanding your worth and securing it.”
The Diwali that year was unlike any other. On Diwali night, as the town lit up with lamps and fireworks, Anaya stood beside the deity of Laxmi, adorned with flowers and jewels.
“Today, we don’t just pray for wealth. We equip ourselves to welcome it,” Anaya’s voice resonated across her family, friends, her young daughter and her parents looking on, their eyes glistening with pride.
“Bless our daughters, who light our homes with knowledge and strength,” Anaya prayed, her eyes moist, not just with devotion but with gratitude for the independence she had secured for them all.
Anaya looked around, her heart full. She had not only changed her family’s story but had rewritten the narrative for every daughter of her family and close friends. In the glow of the diyas, the Goddess Laxmi seemed to smile, her blessings transcending the heavens, rooting firmly in the empowered hearts and enlightened minds of the people.
Image source: by Yogendra Singh from Studio India Free for Canva Pro
I am a photographer and an avid reader. I am not a writer but I like to give words to my emotions. I love to cook and hike. I believe in humor and its impact 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.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
Smita could visit her mother only in summers when her daughter had school holidays. Her daughter also enjoyed meeting her Nani, and both of them had done their reservations for a week. A month before their visit, her husband told her, “My mom is coming for 4-5 months!”
Smita shuddered. She knew the repercussions. She would have to hear sarcastic comments from her mother-in-law for visiting her mother. She may make these comments directly only a bit, but her servants would be flooded with the words, “How horrible she is! She leaves me and goes!”
Maybe Animal is going to make Ranbir the superstar he yearns to be, but is this the kind of legacy his grandfather and granduncles would wish for?
I have no intention of watching Animal. I have heard it’s acting like a small baby screaming and yelling for attention. However, I read some interesting reviews which gave away the original, brilliant and awe-inspiring plot (was that sarcastic enough?), and I don’t really need to go watch it to have an informed opinion.
A little boy craves for his father’s love but doesn’t get it so uses it as an excuse to kill a whole bunch of people when he grows up. Poor paapa (baby) what else could he do?
I was wondering; if any woman director gets inspired by this movie and replicates this with a female protagonist, what would happen?. Oh wait, that’s the story of so many women in this world. Forget about not giving them love, you have fathers who try to kill their daughters or sell them off or do other equally despicable things.
Please enter your email address