Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tragic with very little magic

Santara or Sallekhana is a practise by which people of a particular religion stop eating food when they feel death is near. They do not eat till they die. Nearly two hundred people adopt this practice in India every year.

Today I read an article, which says that the government's ban on Santara is a misunderstanding of the practice. The supporters of this kind of starving say that during this period, the one on a fast has risen above desire.

I know a tragic story about this practice. A young girl from this community excelled at school work. She started talking to her parents to permit her to study in college. Her grand mother condemned the very idea, and strongly protested against the girl going to college. She insisted that the girl should be married in her mid teens. But the girl continued to beg her parents and kept at her studies, scoring full marks in nearly all the subjects in school. Her class twelve exams were about to begin.

It is with a heavy heart that I continue this story. Ten days before the exam, the grandmother of the girl declared that she wanted to start her fast unto death. Twelve days later, on the day the girl was to write her exam in mathematics, her grandmother died. Before she started her fast, she made here son promise that the whole family would travel a thousand miles to her birthplace with her dead body and cremate it there. So off went the family with the dead body, as the school authorities fumed at the loss of one of their star pupils.

She was forgotten by everyone soon. She still is forgotten. Married of in a year, she works from four in the morning till nine at night, cooking and cleaning in a joint family and taking care of her kids whom she delivered while still in her teens. She is like millions of women in this county, not totally unhappy, leading secure, predictable lives and feeling that they have somehow missed out on something. Men in such families feel the same way too, but they enjoy a better status and think it is cool to blame the women in their lives for their situation.

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