I am 67 years old now, spending my life with three children and four grand children. When I look back, I find an active life I have left behind with so many little and big things that came and went in their own space. My grandchildren remind me of the days when I was their age.
I remember an incident specifically, still so bright in my memory as if it happened a few days back. I was coming back from the farm to my house. We were not allowed to stay out after 5 in the evening. It was harvesting season and the field was buzzing with its own infinite stories. I got a bit late to get back home., My father was also late because of the same reasons. I was seen by some villagers who looked at me suspiciously, wondering where I was headed and why I was out after sun-down. Some of them also stalked me. Most of them knew my father and family.
Later that week they came to my father and complained about me coming home after sunset. But they didn’t stop at that. They added all kinds of fuel to the fire by saying they spotted me with a boy. I can’t ever forget that day as my dad was so ashamed that he hung his head down for a long time. Those days we couldn’t keep our point in front of adults. In fact, we hardly spoke to the elders, especially the men. No one asked me a thing. My father didn’t say a word, impairing all chances for me to voice out the truth. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to express my displeasure.
Left lonely and dejected, I felt devasted as I thought I had brought disgrace to the family. But since that day I was careful about coming home early. I would feel scared if no one watched me while coming home. As if the onlooker’s judgement was the biggest testimony to my character.
Now my grand-daughter and grandson often stays out at night and sometimes come back home only in the morning. I feel our society has progressed a lot and adopted the western ways of life. Perhaps this advanced and broad minded thinking will give them the security, from evil eyes of their society, something that I have suffered so innocently.
Storyteller : Mohini Mehta
As told to Ritika Jain