Self-Awareness

The Screaming Story of a Silent Death ~ true story of my cousin and what follows thereafter

I am rushed with disappointment and anger right now and this leads me to write this article. My anger is not only to this shocking incident questioning my cousin’s life but also to the woman who wrote a more dramatic version of my cousin’s death, on her Fb page. This incident occured in 2011, I shared a post a week ago and today one of my Fb friend has an ‘inspirational’ looking post but with so much of what sounds  ‘nonsensically dramatic’. Are we women done beating each other down?

Before I share this incident, I want to ask you all, if I share that she did not want to marry her husband who was her childhood friend but finally married him because she felt persuaded, does it make you question her integrity? Is that what we women can ‘gift’ other women?!

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I was in Tanzania, Africa. As usual we were out of electricity. My in laws were dining and I was in the kitchen, finishing up the dishes before it was time to retire for the day. The phone rings, my sister on the phone tells m e – “______ committed suicide_______” details follow… I am frozen with shock! Can’t believe it. Is it this same cousin who was so close to me several years ago.. the same girl who was always so affectionate, so full of live and so beautiful? 5 years ago as I got engaged and married, I left country and lost touch with her. I was surprised when one day I got the news that she finally married him after even breaking her engagement with him. I had passing thought why she did it but not the faintest idea that she was stepping into what news say was a ‘hellish’ place.What a misery that it seems like my cousin lost her life because she did not or wasn’t able to step up to the insensitive and greedy behaviour of her in-laws. But notice how I write “it seems”. There is no conclusive evidence so far and I was in a totally different country for several years to know any of that. Her name or the link to her news is not important. What is important to know is that as far as the news went, she was earning very well, was in her later 20s and hence capable of being independent. I know that the person she got married to was her childhood friend and she was doubtful about accepting his offer of converting the friendship to companionship. Alas, it hit her hard when she finally did!

While all the talk about her dowry, in laws coercing her for money, her great job position and the fact that her father refused to support her after her constant requests goes on, I wonder if there are any answers to some mysteries. Our family still questions if it was murder or suicide? I don’t know what truly happened but this incident and news raises some key issues in our Indian society. I ask all women to rise above ‘society pressures’. If your parents are unwilling to accept you, are too bothered about ‘log kya kahenge’ then do hell with them. Tell them that society will say that you were not a fit parent!!

Women, you no more need permission of your parents to leave abusive relationships, nor do you need to feel guilty or doubtful of stepping out of households where you are treated as a ‘commodity’ or with a ‘give and take contract’. I know today of a friend who lives with a highly abusive husband who curses her with the worst comments, hits her, drinks, abuses her in front of her family members, does not allow her to own and yet she wants to stay in the marriage because her parents want her to continue living with him, just because of “log kya kahenge!!!” Today we have multiple women empowerment centers, homes, places to turn to in times of need. I know that nothing can stop a woman once she makes up her mind. The immense strength we show in caring for others, we must show in caring for ourselves too! It cannot be harder to walk out of a monsterous home than to hear judgement from others for a few months. People talk, forget and accept. The ‘spicy talk’ lasts for a few days and burns out. This society needs more women leaders that step up to injustice and LET-IT-SHOW.

Will the society come to wipe your tears, to free your soul, heal your bruises? Such parents must be shameful of themselves for these are not what we call parents. Culture and tradition is good within limits but when it moves into orthodox rigidity where women are forced to bow down to injustice, gender bias, severe prejudice and abuse, we must reconsider our cultural ways. Is this want you want your daughters to grow up and hear from the news? Is it so important that if our kids do a love marriage, they must be held responsible if the marriage does not work out and furthermore if the in laws lash out torture and coercion? I do not know what happened to my cousin and my facebook post was a scream of pain to ask for help for someone who may be able to help me know the intricate details around her death.

Unfortunately, someone who I called my friend says that it makes her question the girl’s integrity and that I share information that is confidential. Really! Is it so hard for today’s modern world to accept that women have as much of a right to be loved as men? That women have a right to choose partners and deny if needed and that boys can be ‘just friends’ too. How sad that we can’t just get over pointing fingers at one another and then ask men to show us respect. Wake up women, if you want freedom, justice and respect, ask yourself if you watched an item song along with your boyfriend, ask if you thought of another woman as a ‘slut’ in your mind and if you play cheap tricks on other women, shaming them and even worse, exercise negative power against other women…Charity begins at home and so be it!

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parent of the month, Venting Our Feelings

The Biography of a Beautiful, Courageous Mother

Parent of the Month II (May 2015): LATE MRS. MAYA CHHEDA

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 Today: 14th May, is my Late Mom’s birthday – Mrs. Maya Chheda. ‘My Parent of the Month’ Series will be incomplete without her mention. I will like to dedicate this post to her with the intention that it will reach her wherever she is. I believe that she did a lot more for others than she received. I intend that with this post, her soul ‘hears’ that she is valued, loved, cared for, and MISSED by many of us even now; that I owe her my life and I Thank her for all the goodness that she instilled in my sister and me in early years. She passed away at an early age of 33 years and I missed out on learning a lot more things from her.

Today I was working at my laptop when suddenly my daughter began singing – “Happy Birthday to you…” Oblivious in my work, I asked her whose birthday was it? She ignored my question and continued singing in the end addressing it to her grandma (my mom). I was thrilled! :)

 

MOM’S BACKGROUND 

Mom was born in a large family of 10 children. She was the last of them all and sadly for her, she didn’t get a chance to even see her dad. Her father passed away when she was yet to be born.

The growing years for all the children including her were filled up numerous hardships. Her mom (my grandma) had to financially support the family and also look after so many children. Even though grandma was physically present, she was emotionally missing from mom’s life. Mom was brilliant in academics and she received support from her mom and siblings to study. She was about to finish her Doctorate but did not end up giving the very last paper!

In her own life, mom had considerable financial struggles while she brought us up. She did the best in giving us the love and support she could. There were times of severe financial difficulty and I heard from my elders that she would not eat a single slice of fruit because she would save them to give it to my sister and me.
From the vague memory that I have of my mom, I remember that she would have us recite religious prayers before sleeping, from a very young age. Those values which she gave me in the first years of life, did remain with me and I can say that they came to my ‘rescue’ in my dark times. It helped me immensely to have faith in God and believe in praying.

 “Wherever you are Mom, I want to Thank You for embedding religious and moral values in me at a very early age and giving us all the care and love you did. We cherish that and love you”.

Below are heart-felt shares from some of her family members:

NIECE

“I loved her a lot. She was very intelligent and religious. She had studied Jain religion in deep. She was an expert in cooking and her pani puri was the world’s best. I was very fond of her. She was my ideal and I always wanted to be like her. Your Mom always believed in equality between girl and boy. She never approved of gender bias and clearly corrected those who discriminate between their son and daughter. I still remember her saying that one should give equal love to all children. I am going to feel her loss all my life”.

  

BROTHER-IN-LAW

 “As her name suggests, MAYA, she was full of ‘love’. She was like a sister to me. She helped her sister (my wife) to get married in spite of her partial disability. She put an ad in Mumbai Samachar newspaper. Because of Sister Maya’s help, today I have a wonderful wife and daughter. 

She was the most beautiful person in the family by looks and by heart. She would treat guests as God and her sacrifice and love for the family was unmatching. She has helped my wife in many ways. When our apartment was getting painted for 9 days, she took my wife – her elder sister to her home forcibly because she knew her sister had allergy to paint. And in those 9 days of stay, even though Sister Maya had her own difficulties, she treated my wife (her elder sister) excellent. 

We all miss her a lot. Maybe God had a plan to have her meet her father in heaven and hence took her away from us so early. She has been a blessing and she has left behind 2 beautiful Angel Daughters. May God Bless her and Keep her united with all family members here and in heaven”.

 DAUGHTERS

 We mutually remember that Mom used to knit sweaters for us. She was super talented. And she always made our birthdays special by making THREE cakes for us. I clearly remember one of the Strawberry or Pink cake that she had made. It used to be Chocolate, Strawberry, and maybe Pineapple. We know that Mom loved us a lot and did many special things for us.

 I remember when I would go down to play without shoes and get hurt with nails from the playground or the times when mom would call us back home. She also taught us to help in the kitchen from young age as often her health would not be good.

  “Mom I always bake cake for your grand-daughter’s birthday and she loves it. If you were here today, I would bake THREE cakes for You! I trust that you are well wherever you are and may you celebrate that life with Love and Joy You were a very courageous person and you have passed that on to us. Thank You Mom for everything!”

from all of us :)

SISTER

 Maya was extremely talented and affectionate by nature. She was good looking, independent, and smart. – She was very fond of keeping a beautiful, neat,  and tidy home. Her interests and talents included cooking, stitching, and socializing. She enjoyed inviting people and was loved by her entire family because of her loving and generous nature. She had wonderful handwriting too. She loved her daughters immensely; even though she was strict with them in her discipline rarely have I seen a mother who loves her children so deeply.  I still resent the fact that she didn’t complete her doctorate and that she struggled a lot with her kids in the apartment she lived in. I always remember her sharing her wish to come to USA. Whatever I say about her will be less. She left behind a lot of memories in our hearts. Her sudden loss is a wound that cannot be healed.

SISTER II

If I have to sum up in just few words, I can say that Maya was my best friend.
When we were young we shared the same mattress to sleep together, knowing that we had a highly modest upbringing. We laughed, cried, fought, and confided in each other. Many a times she fought with entire family for me! She was the only one I could speak out my heart to about some things that I could not share with anyone else. I think I was v.protective about her. I miss her immensely!———

Thank You everyone for reading this article and for blessing her soul :) It is easier to write about others than to write about someone of your own. 

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