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A Bold Lakshmi Again! But How Many Of You Can Accept Her?

Discussion in 'Varalotti Rengasamy's Short & Serial Stories' started by varalotti, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2005
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  2. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Hooray for this Lakshmi

    Sridhar,

    As soon as i finished reading the story, i said this to myself...hooray, well done Lakshmi. This was the apt and best thing a woman could have donein that situation. But i am surprised at her boldness when you have placed her in not so modern a world. And of course i am disappointed with her husband that he did not stand by her and understand what she declared in front of the whole family, but let her to be branded as a slut and be sent out of his life also!
    Are all "Ram " namesakes the same, listening to others and sending their wives away?

    Anyway, lets see what others say!
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks For Starting The Discussion!

    Sudha,
    The highlight of the story is that it happened in yesteryears where women were not supposed to talk like that. And once again, given the period, I would say Ram had gone farther than most of the other husbands living in similar times. When the epic Rama banished Sita into the forest, Rama's devotees blamed it on the times, on the society in those times, on the mad customs prevalent at those times. But there were some powerful opponets to Rama on this. Rajaji, the intellectual giant, was not so kind in commenting on Rama for his act of banishing Sita. You know what Rajaji said: 'The moment Ravana was killed on the battlefield the purpose of Ramavatar was completed. The divine presence left the body of King Rama. He was afterward a very ordinary king and hence what he did could not be attributed to the deity.' To him that was the only possible explanation for that inhuman act. (It was an inhuman act; so how can it be done by God?)
    Coming to Lakshmi, she sacrificed her status and preferred a long lonely life in her parents' place than losing her identity. One line that runs through all these snippets is this - for a woman (as well as for a man) her identity is much more important than security or comfort.
    I am also eagerly waiting for others' views.
    sridhar
     
  4. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    The gleam

    The gleam despite the shattered dream makes Lakshmi a strong woman. Her plan must have seemed outrageous to the joint family - but atleast then Ram should have realised his folly and stood by his wife. What she said was right; even after remarrying chances of having a child were only 50:50. If a man sleeps around he's a stud; a slight slur on a woman's character and she's a slut. This kind of branding has been prevalent since ancient times.
    This is how I would have liked the story to have ended: Ram, after his remarriage should remain childless - a kind of poetic justice. And an understanding man should have married Lakshmi and showered her with love, devotion - and a child!
    Sharada
     
  5. meenaprakash

    meenaprakash Silver IL'ite

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    everyone of the present would accept her....

    Hello Sridhar,

    Another Avatar of Lakshmi....... she must be the ideal woman of yesteryears, dutiful, loving, sensible, and strong, very strong......

    I've met some of the women of yesteryears who have been completely dominated and cornered by their families that even today at this old age they still carry traces of it. Either they are strong and are out of the clutches of sour memories OR u see them completely devastated and shattered.

    Must have been very difficult for Lakshmi to stand against a conservative, huge, joint family but just great she did it and hats off to her. Its the last sentence, " Lakshmi was banished into life-long loneliness. But she always had that smile in her face which she had when she made her historical speech to the family", that I enjoyed reading again and again. Many might take an extreme step like Lakshmi but to carry on steadily without any regret - that matters the most.......
     
  6. meenaprakash

    meenaprakash Silver IL'ite

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    ideal ending....

    Hello Sharada,


    I agree with u sharada about the ending that u suggested.......

    That would be the ideal climax to this ideal Lakshmi.....
     
  7. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A Bold Lakshmi..

    That was an interesting story! There is no question of not accepting this Lakshmi:) Any woman in her right senses will accept her, especially, today's woman, without doubt. I could identify with every action of Lakshmi and felt satisfied reading the story as the incidents unfolded exactly like I would have portrayed them myself! Good for her and I do hope that her lonely life ahead was fulfilling in other ways for her...hate to think she suffered on any account. I also agree with others' wish that her husband remained childless and if indeed he did have children, they were a big pain to him and not a comfort!!
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Kamla

    I am very happy that many members can identify with this Lakshmi and could whole-heartedly approve her actions. Just one thought remains. As one film song explains - it's not a big deal to wear khadhi dress today. Today it's a mark of respect, a symbol of political affiliation. But when the British ruled over us, wearing hand-spun khadi dress was a symbol of defiance. Such people were hounded up by policemen and victimised in their workspots. Similarly while I appreciate the modern women fully accepting Lakshmi, I also wish to remind, that in Lakshmi's place and times, this act of defiance meant losing a comfortable life, living alone and being denied of the basic needs, including sex and security. But this Lakshmi thought and rightfully so, for an woman, her identity is more important than her security or even her happiness.
    Thanks Kamla for wholeheartedly supporting this Lakshmi.
    sridhar
     
  9. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sridhar,


    Man yr brain works in so many directions.One Lakshmi and so many situations u have created.

    This was ingenious really.Yes the fault could lay with Ram also so this was a foolproof method.

    Superb.Hats off.You remind me of Alfred Hitchock, who could bring about suspense from no where.

    Just loved it.Regards.kamal
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Kamalji,
    thanks for those nice words. Those days I created Ashta Lakshmis just to jog our people's thinking. I am happy that it is being enjoyed by a nice man after about 3 years.
    thanks once again,Kamal.
    BTW, did you see my response to your sweet and sour thread?
    love,
    sridhar
     

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