The sharp cries of a woman from her window in Delhi’s tony locality of Lodhi Road, never left my mind. It was ‘’Karwachauth’’, a day celebrated by married women all across India fasting and praying for the long life of their husband and not eating till they see the moon. They break their day long fast ,they dress up in the fineries, jewellery & are resplendent in all the attire they gather to thwart all pangs of hunger to prove love for their spouse.
This was a turning point in my young mind of 14, I used to wonder why my Bengali mother never fasted ever for my father. My home never had loud ruckus arguments where Baba would be so angry that Ma wouldn’t talk. It was always a democratic environment where each of us were encouraged to express how we felt emotionally towards a situation.
The debates were essentially about a political leaning or mainly about the tempering used in the meticulously cut vegetable dish. I knew I would never wear jewellery to pray for my husbands long life. At 14 I knew it was archaic and again extremely patriarchal.
This trip to Delhi took me to the same lane of Lodhi Colony and I found the landscape had changed. There was a designers market where upmarket brands were shoulder to shoulder in their store window display.
Leaving Delhi has brought about a massive shift in attitude towards brands and prices. I don’t seem to appreciate the sequins or the shiny stones on clothing and I much rather have that on my cushion and sofa bolsters.
I walked into this jewellery and accessories store and it was again Lodi Colony. I tried hard to soften that muffled sound of anguish of that woman in my head to no avail. I find myself searching for a refuge and constantly seeking louder sounds to dull out that unforgettable sound that is so easy to recall.
The cry used to haunt me and I often thought of her in her home with the tiny window that had her shrieks. I was desperately seeking a closure of her pain in my head. After all I didn’t know her, but even then & more clearer today I can understand her sorrow. Her husband was an alcoholic abusive man. As I heard and enquired that time from the neighbourhood. I don’t know why she never leaves my head.
In that tony locality to numb the conversation in my head. I knew retail was the answer. I walked inside a store with accessories and what caught my eye was a shell pink bracelet. I picked up the bracelet, that said Devi on his clasp with baby pink beads. It was symbolic of the delicate nature of women and the strong gold clasp of Devi in Hindi alphabets in between.
The Devi is there in each of you reading this piece. Some Devis just have tremendous amount of emotional resilience and deep empathy to trudge on in spite of the surroundings and some Devis are strong enough to walk away from situations that hinder their speech, voice, growth and desire.
I wear the Devi bracelet almost everywhere like a talisman that reminds me of my inner strength. A Devi always says ‘’don’t mess with my mind because if I wish, I can be of the ruthless kind’’.