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Was Lakshmi A Fool? I don’t Think So

Discussion in 'Varalotti Rengasamy's Short & Serial Stories' started by varalotti, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Was Lakshmi A Fool? I don’t Think So.

    Lakshmi looked like any other woman. May be she was slightly taller. She had a healthy figure and reasonable facial features. She hailed from an upper middle class family in that village. When she talked it would appear that she would never stop.

    Everything was quite normal about her except the fact that her IQ was very low. She could not grasp things, do even the simplest of arithmetic, haggle with the vendors or even judge people. She could be easily deceived by any one who cared to.

    Lakshmi was known among the village circles as the dullard and the village women either made fun of her or talked to her in a condescending tone, as if they were talking to a five-year old. Lakshmi, of course, did not mind and was happy to relate to people even if the relationship meant just being bullied and teased.

    Lakshmi was married to a smooth talking con-man of a nearby village. Lakshmi’s family was eager to marry her off into a good, respectable family. But as Lakshmi’s reputation had spread far and wide, very few people were interested in the match. Lakshmi’s father and her grandfather were reasonably rich. Added to that some of her uncles took pity on her and pooled their resources and ultimately got her married off to whosoever agreed to marry her for her wealth.

    Her husband ran away within six months of marriage. Thanks to the benevelonce of her rich relatives Lakshmi had some good properties settled in her name and she always had enough money about her.

    Her husband returned to her after a year. Lakshmi true to her nature welcomed him home and pampered him as if nothing happened. The villagers warned her that the husband might run away soon and he had come only for her money. Even her father advised her to be careful about her husband. All the sane advice fell on deaf ears. As expected her husband ran away with whatever cash and jewels he could manage to take from the house.

    Six months later the husband returned again. This time the warnings were sterner and advice more forceful. But Lakshmi as usual disregarded all that and celebrated the homecoming of her prodigal husband. The husband wept on her shoulders, asked for her pardon, slept with her night after night and after a month ran away again with whatever he could lay his hands on.

    The whole village was on Lakshmi denouncing her for being so naïve and trusting. She was surrounded by the headstrong women of the village who were demanding an explanation for her silly behaviour.

    Lakshmi saw the women through her tearful eyes and said amidst sobs:

    “For you, life is easy. You live with your husbands and any time you want him he is there just for the asking. But where will I go if I want male company? Who else but my husband can give that pleasure to me. Yes he is a cheat, a crook and a scondrel. But he is a man. Can you deny that? If a man wants female company he goes to a prostitute. But where will I go, tell me. That’s why I welcome him every time he comes to me. Am I wrong? Am I an idiot? Please tell me.”

    I don’t think so. Do you?

    I should have read this in a short story or some family-elder told me, I don’t know. But this incident left an indelible scar in my mind. I am afraid that in many cases we mistake cunningness for intelligence and shun the intelligence that really matters.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2005
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  2. jyoti

    jyoti New IL'ite

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    No, I too don't think so.

    No, I too don't think so.

    Lakshmi, inspite of the being found to be naive, she had been very sensitive to her own feelings. This is what any normal woman would want to do!

    Who knows? If not now, later Lakshmi would be able to win her husband to be with her by her forgiving approach.
     
  3. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    Feminists will cry hoarse that Lakshmi is an IDIOT and humanists and conventionalists will call her a devout wife, a forgiving wife and a down to earth simple wife. Though IQ level of a woman has no relevance to her biological needs, the approach of a woman with a better perspective would be entirely different in handling her marital life.

    Anyways, Lakshmi's story is a common one and most men want 'Lakshmis' like her in their lives...

    Good to read a snippet like this, well presented by a male writer.
    Shows your broad outlook Sridhar

    ambika ananth
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks For The Reply, Ambika

    Ambika, I forgot to mention one thing. The incident/story is at least 30 years old. I am sure you and I will not appreciate a similar approach (as that of Lakshmi) from a software engineer of the 21st century. Compared to Lakshmi she will have a number of choices, all of which will be much more sensible than the only choice available to Lakshmi.
    I regret my error of omitting the timeframe of the incident which propelled your response.
    I don't think the modern man will prefer Lakshmi's. The modern man prefers a super intelligent house-wife-cum-home-maker-cum-high-flying-executive-cum-a beauty he can show off at his clubs and parties.
    I have a cousin who is almost like Lakshmi and her husband, a lawyer, though he did not technically desert her, virtually abandoned her. My cousin had a horrible life. And now her son has become a software engineer in Infosys earning unimaginable sums of money. And Ambika, you should see to believe the fierce devotion the son has for his mother! The son detests his father and made it clear that he would not have anything to do with the old man.
    Serves the old man right!
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  5. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    let us debate further...

    Sridhar,

    Highly evolved and emancipated women existed long long time back, so also women like 'Lakshmi', who will be forced to wait for their children to take charge of the situation and pay back in the same coin to the people involved in the exploitation of their innocence or ignorance. When I said men of today want 'Lakshmis' in their lives, I meant those women who are 'giving and forgiving'- who will welcome back a husband even after he errs a thousand times.

    Is it that a modern man wants a highly accomplished and beautiful wife onlyto show off at parties..?? its a very sorry state for a woman if she is treated like a valuable possession to be shown off...

    A good thread..let us debate further on this...

    ambika ananth.
     
  6. shalini

    shalini New IL'ite

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    No alternative?

    Thanks Varalotti for the article.

    A good relationship is one where there is both emotional and physical connection. The ideal alternative for Lakshmi is to find another man who would give her both. However, in your story, you have ruled out that possibility as no one likes to marry Lakshmi. Given her circumstances, I don't think Lakshmi is a fool.

    The unfortunate reality in some backward areas in India is that this "no alternative" situation is the one that most often happens.
     
  7. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    The Argument Goes On!

    Ambika,
    highly evolved, emancipated women did exist long time back. But they did not have as many choices as the modern woman now has. Lakshmi might have been intelligent in finding an answer to her biological needs within the moral framework of the society at that time. But the given fact is that she is a dullard. And if she is thinking of some other brilliant choices, well then she becomes a bright woman and the whole thing begs the question.

    I did not say that all men marry only to show their wives off in parties and clubs. But for those men for whom marriage is a kind of convenience and a way to go up the social ladder will not marry Lakshmis.

    I am not saying that the only way to respond to an ill-treating husband is to wait for the son to grow-up. But in the example I gave in the reply she did not have any other choice - probably because she did not have the courage to break some conventions or probably because she was not emancipated. So she had to wait for Nature to take its course of justice, in this case through her son.
    My cousin (now in her fifties) in those days was not financially independent. There was not enough support in her parents' home. So she found all the escape routes closed and had to simply suffer in silence till her son grew up.
    Yes even then she could have abandoned her husband and gone out of the marriage and family. But given her circumstances she could not have provided education to her son, her son could not have grown up as he did now.
    Ambika, with my limited experience I am telling you (correct me if I'm wrong): there are thousands and thousands of women trapped in a horrible marriage who just suffer in silence because of their children. It may not be a sensible choice. But they always place their children above their personal welfare.
    Now continue with your argument, Ambika. I am all ears.
    sridhar
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    You have hit the nail on its head

    Shalini,
    you hit the nail on its head. Yes, Lakshmi could have looked for another person. To have a good husband was not an alternative Lakshmi had right from the beginning. So she was trapped into the marriage. And given her conditions and the society at that time, what she did was not foolish. The whole talk of empowering women which we hear in every other forum is to give woman "alternatives and choices." That's what every feminist movement should aim.
    I will be happy if you read the arguments contained in the replies to this post and contribute your own.
    thanks for the reply,
    sridhar
     
  9. Induslady

    Induslady Administrator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    I know a woman like Lakshmi!

    Varalotti,

    I know a woman in my own family like Lakshmi. She was not a well educated, shrude or clever woman. A normal woman who accepted everything that was given to her in life as it is - good or bad, got married to the guy shown by her parents thinking he is going to take care the rest of her life, who later turned out to be the most irresponsible ever on earth. Once in a blue moon day he used to come home, demand everything he wanted and then disappear again for long.

    She did forgive and kept continuing her life with such a husband until she was blessed with a son. Then came out her true self that she decided no more living for a husband who visited her now and then. At the same time, she did not have a well-off parents or relatives to support her. So she decided to live for herself and her son by her own with whatever she knew. She said 'NO' to her husband for everything and did not even want him to visit her. She went out and cooked in houses, made snacks and sold to retail shops, did some tailoring work, etc. and earned to grow her son and educate him. Though she was not able to give him a professional education, gave him an education that earned him a decent job.

    The son knew all the pains she went through bringing him up and he is really a blessing for her. Took care of her so well till she lived. She got everything in return that was worth all the pains she went through.

    I always used to admire her, her determination and will power, inspite of not having any strong background. To me she was not a normal woman, an extraordinary woman who lived her own life even 30 years ago.

    Regards,
    IndusLady.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2005
  10. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A Nice Reply

    Induslady,
    yes there are many like the person you have described in your reply. We do admire the grit and determination in such women. But even to stand up against injustice against ill-treatment you need some basic strength and intelligence. Given the fact that Lakshmi is a dull person she might not have even grasped the evil propensities of her husband. And to find out the true colours of a real con-man you need to be really bright which Lakhsmi was not. What is striking in the post is the way Lakshmi chose to answer her needs well within the cultural and moral milieu that was available to her 30 years ago.
    Ambika also has stated that even 30 years ago there were emancipated women. No doubt about it. But we can't deny the fact that even today there are women who are treated like doormats and most of them don't even complain.
    Induslady, I am happy that this incident is provoking so much of discussion.
    Eager to listen to your views,
    varalotti
     

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