Sunday 18 March 2012

Retold: When the spirit refuses to break - II

Once she was back on her feet, her family told Reshma about her husband. She decided she would not return to him. Her parents agreed, owning responsibility for the bad match.
Resilient of spirit, Reshma said she would look for work to support her child. Her mother and she took turns to work and attend to the baby. She found a housemaid’s job in the nearby flats. That was how she landed at my doorstep a year later.
At some stage I asked her if she had considered remarriage. “I have no illusions. Why will anyone accept my child? Once he fathers children of his own, he will expect me to give them all my attention and will resent my son,” was the matter-of-fact reply.
She was clear what she wanted from life now. She made a number of trips to her village, filing for divorce. She told her mother-in-law that her jewellery was all she wanted back, not alimony. Her husband had not dared face her since the child’s birth. He did come to Delhi once seeking to expedite the divorce, but she was away. He was plain lucky, she said fiercely.
She tells me now that her husband has got himself yet another woman. Reshma no longer visits the village, the divorce case therefore cannot move forward, and he is stuck. Period. I see that her fiery spirit still burns bright. Kudos to that.
Her son has inherited her smile.
I enquire about her son. He is quite small for his age, wears thick glasses and is very fussy about food and clothes. How come? I ask. “I know I am spoiling him. But he is all I have, so I spend on him every paisa I can spare.”
She got him admitted to an English-medium school through the quota for EWS (economically weaker sections), she says. I note that her earlier smattering of English has grown into a decent-sized vocabulary.
How is he coping with it? For that matter, how is she coping?
Her son, now 9, is struggling with the language, but she sends him to a local tutor. He wants to set up a big garage when he grows up.
She is cook to six different families. She buys him all that the public school demands (fancy dresses, projects, charts and drawing materials), treats him to a monthly pleasure trip to malls on the Metro, watches cookery shows on TV to make fancy dishes for him, and is soon buying buy life insurance to give him a secure future, just in case she suddenly dies. Phew!
And she still manages that infectious smile? Yes, in fact her son has inherited it, she beams at me. “What will tears get me? It is best to bear it with a grin,” she philosophizes.
At the same time, she continues to ward off matchmakers, some of whom suggest that she give away her son in adoption and settle down with another man.
She has bought a small piece of land in a neighbouring city, and pays each monthly instalment on time through a bank account. I tease her about the day her daughter-in-law may not want her around. “Oh, I am not foolish. She will have to suffer me if she wants the land. It will remain in my name till I die,” she says. “My son does not eat or sleep without me today, but it does not take much for times to change. So I am taking no chance,” she says wisely, and she is not yet 30.
She boasts no family riches. Yet she is teaching her (ex?) husband a well-deserved lesson, and is fighting life on her own terms. Her resources are meagre but she is full of pluck, supplemented with some good luck. For a woman in her position could not have come this far without her family by her side.
I cross my fingers and say a silent prayer.


  1. wow... it's people like Reshma who truly make this world worth fighting for. Thanks for sharing this! :-)