This Lakshmi was a typical Bharath Naari. Very conservative, very obedient, fully sincere and without any ambition. She was the eldest of three daughters. It was a different period where women did not have that much freedom as they have today. Soon after her schooling she was married off into a very rich family. Ram’s was a large joint family. Apart from Ram’s parents, his four younger brothers and his widowed sister was living with them. Lakshmi did not mind the lack of privacy or the long hours of work in the place. It was neither a village nor a town and it took some time for Lakshmi to adjust to the living conditions there. Her husband Ram showered his love on her and their two years of marriage appeared like a continuous honeymoon. There was only one jarring note. Ram and Lakshmi did not have children. Those were the days where childlessness was not medically examined. Women were unilaterally blamed for infertility even though the men might be at fault. Ram’s mother could not bear to see her first son without an offspring. She was upset by the fact that the whole town was now talking about Lakshmi being barren. One fine morning (a morning that was not so fine for Lakshmi) Ram’s mother had a face-to-face talk with him. Of course she did not want Lakshmi to know the subject matter of conversation. But Lakshmi had already cleverly hidden behind some rice bags from where she could overhear what her mother-in-law had to say. “Ram, it’s already two years. Lakshmi has not borne you a child. You know the family custom and the tradition followed in this town for many generations. Let Lakshmi stay in the house. But you marry one of her younger sisters. Let’s see whether at least she can beget a heir to our family.” Ram did not know how to respond. He just told his mother “Let me think. Give me a month.” Either this incident happened before the promulgamation of the bigamy law or it happened in a place where women were too weak to protest their husband’s second marriage. Lakshmi was shattered. A meek ‘let me think’ response implied that Ram had a half-mind to marry one of her sisters. From that day onwards she did not allow Ram to even touch her. Whenever Ram asked her something she answered in mono-syllables and did not continue the conversation. Ram did not understand her standoffishness. At the end of the month Ram thought the best way was to ask Lakshmi directly. He told her about his mother’s suggestion. He told Lakshmi that he was not particularly happy about marrying her sister. But just to satisfy his mother and to honour a tradition and get an heir for the family he might be forced to do that. But he would take that extreme step only and only if Lakshmi whole-heartedly consented. Lakshmi’s instinct was to shriek. At that precise moment she lost all her faith in family, marriage, her husband and the society. She was now planning something else. She told him in a very sweet tone, if he was prepared to wait till the next morning, she would announce her decision to the entire family. Ram, in his happy mood, failed to see the unusual glee in Lakshmi’s eyes. Lakshmi was surrounded by the entire family when she began to talk. “It’s indeed my good fortune that I am married to a son of this house. My noble husband had the courtesy to ask my permission to marry my sister, as I could not produce a child to him. I was initially shocked like any other woman on hearing that some one was going to take my place in this house. Then I realised the need of an heir for this great house. So I fully consent to my husband marrying my sister.” There was a smile on every face. Lakshmi continued. “At the same time we cannot leave a matter as important as an heir for this house to mere chance. I and my husband were not able to produce an heir. So it’s presumed that the fault lies with me and my husband is marrying my sister. There is also a half-chance that the fault lies with my husband. In that case even the second marriage will fail to produce an offspring. “To make this heir-producing-arrangement fool-proof I suggest that I marry one of my husband’s brothers. Then the chance of getting a child is doubled. We can have both the marriages on the same day.” Even if a bomb had exploded in that house so much pademonium would not have resulted. Lakshmi was branded as a slut and driven away from the house. Soon Ram married a different girl. Lakshmi was banished into life-long loneliness. But she always had that smile on her face which she had when she made her historical speech to the family.