Dear Ms. Actress
I always choose to be oblivious to the statements made by politicians. Moreover it is not uncommon to see politicians suffering from a serious case of foot in the mouth disease. And going by the current scenario, the disease looks to be on an epidemic endangering the sanity of the common Indians, like me. I wanted to write this letter not because something that you have said has hurt me but for the sheer apathy that you have publicly displayed towards a weaker part of my society which for ages has been silently victimized.
You recently questioned that, “Why widows from Bihar and West Bengal crowd Vrindavan?” Honestly, I do not have an answer for this and it is quite evident that these widows who have been trying to gather pieces of their shattered life at the feet of their God do not know it, either. However, one must look at this issue from a different perspective. Long after Sati was proscribed as illegal in an attempt to save the lives of hundreds of innocent women, the society found a new means to get rid of the widows. Families decided to abandon them because after the death of their husbands, they looked more like a burden for them. The society demanded from them that they live at the mercy of others, give up on all the material needs and desires. They were compelled to live a life reduced to pleading and borrowing and ultimately waiting for death to claim it’s right on them. Going by what is available on the internet today many of these women prefer death over life. It means an end to their misery and the only light in their otherwise dark lives. However, for centuries we have chosen to turn a blind eye to their turmoil and continued to believe that this is what has to happen.
Today we live in an India that is toiling hard at various levels to uplift women, to empower them and to make them strong. Our PM, Mr. Narendra Modi has time and again appealed that we stop atrocities against women and treat them as equals. Then why have you singled out these widows from Vrindavan or for that matter from any state of India? Isn’t this an atrocity against them? You suggested that they must live in temples in Bihar and West Bengal and not make Vrindavan their home. That’s pretty convenient, isn’t it? However, I have a different viewpoint on this. I believe if they deserve to live only in temples then how does it matter if the temple is in Bihar or West Bengal, or for that matter in Vrindavan? None of these Gods or the temples have the power to make the ever rotting lives of these widows any better. Or did you simply mean that widows from WB and Bihar must replicate the Vrindavan model in their respective states? I think that is not a bad idea either. It is simple logic, isn’t it? While we are striving with one Vrindavan, let us create several vrindavans and further more add to India’s agony.
These vrindavan widows belong to our country and should be treated like a part of us. They are a constant reminder that we have been indifferent to their plight and I am unsure for how long. I am certain you understand that these widows do not like to be singled out. No one wants to leave the comfort of their homes and crowd a city/place. May be we need to dig a little deeper and examine the roots of this problem. There could be a possibility that they are escaping. May be they are escaping the brutal clutches of the society. May be they are evading the atrocious intentions of their families. May Be Vrindavan is where they find refuge and safety. Or May be Vrindavan makes their end easier.
How I wish we as a society could work towards eradicating age old traditions. How I wish we could lend a hand to these hapless widows to help them lead a life of dignity and respect. How I wish we could make them independent so that no widow could ever crowd a city, a temple, or a country. How I wish political sector of the society could work towards rebuilding a life of meaning for these widows, making them an integral part of the society. How I wish we could be a little more thoughtful and considerate. How I wish we could ensure that no girl of today becomes one of the vulnerable widows of tomorrow. How I wish we could work on the deeper roots of this problem. Oh! How I wish.
India has always been about its states, and languages, and caste, and creed, etc etc. It has always been about division, and separation. Of course, these widows who have been stripped off their right to live a life of respect should also be stripped off their right to live where their bleeding and broken heart wants to. So much for “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat?" Though I wonder, how this so called “crowding effect”doesn't apply to actors?” Don't we all know how aspiring actors come from different parts of India to Mumbai to try their luck in Bollywood. Does that mean they are crowding the city? There are film industries all across India and these aspiring actors should just stick around to the ones in their states, may be. Oh! But then we are talking about the suave, cultured, and upper class society here and these rules do not at all apply to them.
As I conclude my letter, let me be very clear to you. I am not complaining neither am I contesting your views. I would never dare to do so. I am just trying to bravely see through the ugliest aspect of the lives of my sisters living in Vrindavan. And as I glance through their lives, I feel a sense of shame and guilt creeping through me, vigorously shaking my very existence as a woman of India. I feel hollow from within.
As much as we try to run away from it, the fact remains that you and I are equally responsible for the rotting lives of these widows who have been reduced to just a piece of carcass left on the streets to fend for themselves, trying to find refuge in their God who like us has abandoned them, long ago. It is not they who are crowding our city; it is we who have crowded their lives with a sham.
Nonetheless, the question still looms large, why are these widows crowding Vrindavan? Do you have an answer?