She was afraid of the dark and she quickly opened the only window in the room to let in some light and to gaze at the world outside.
Widowed at the tender age of fourteen Meena was confined to the room. Gone were her colourful saries and matching blouses…..she was forced to wear a white sari without a blouse. It was the year 1900.Born in a remote village in South India Meena a mere child had been married a few months ago. Her thirty year old husband unfortunately died due to rabies. She now had to adhere to the strict rules of being a widow….. solitary confinement, white sari without a blouse, no jewellery or flowers to adorn her…….
She lifted her hands to shield her eyes from the slanting rays of the evening sun ……arms which had been adorned with bangles just a few days ago were now bare except for the tattoos that she had got done from the street side tattoo maker when she had gone out shopping at the local market with her husband.
She still remembered the colourful wooden dolls lined up and having longed to get one but she remembered holding back for she knew she couldn’t have asked for one .
She pulled the trailing white sari closer and settled down in a corner of the room looking at the plate of food in front of her and reminiscing about the happy times when she lived with her parents. She yearned for the love and affection her mother used to shower her with. Those were long forgotten times.Days dragged on and she longed to move out of the confinement of the room. She prayed to God and often wondered if He heard her.
A teacher on her way to a nearby school gave her some solace and consolation. She would stop by her window and talk to her everyday. She spoke to Meena about herbal medicine and natural ways of healing and cure. Meena found some relief by reading and learning from the books she provided her with .She was thankful her parents had sent her to a school run by a group of Swedish missionaries where she had studied upto the 5th standard before she was hurriedly married off.
One day as she lay down on the hard floor just drifting off to sleep she suddenly sat up with a start….was that a loud cry she heard? Her late husband’s sister who had been abandoned by her husband was expecting a baby and was staying here in the same house. Could it be time for her baby’s arrival into this world? Hearing her cries Meena rushed out of her room. She helped her aged mother -in -law with the delivery of the child . Due to complications at child birth Meena’s sister- in -law passed away leaving her baby motherless. Meena’s mother -in -law was too old and sick and was only too happy to put the baby under Meena’s care. Meena to her great joy found herself taking care of the little one. Life took on a new meaning for her and she knew what God wanted of her…..to raise this beautiful baby boy and be a loving mother to him.
A young bride …a young widow …and now a young mother……Meena took up the challenge and faced life with renewed courage and with fierce determination. She felt liberated.