12 November, 2008

Story of a woman ....

Whenever I listen to "woman empowerment" stuff, I am always disgusted. Mostly because all of that is only pep talk. It is all in our minds. We are showered by the "woman is weak and easily manipulated" shit-talk so much that we actually start to believe in it! But, then you come across someone, who by the strength of her character proves otherwise.
This is her story.

She stays is a small town, about a 6 hour drive from Pune. Happily married to a very respectable and upright husband, she has a daughter and a son. They used to live in a joint family with three brother-in-laws, all of them married. They had a family shop run jointly by all the four brothers.

So, these three brother-in-laws were anything but honest. Embezzlement in the shop business was like a daily affair. But, her husband totally trusted all of them and never even bothered to check or re-check their accounts. Typical story. About 6 years ago, one fine day, this man realises that they are in a debt of Rs. 22 Lakh. And then he gets the picture of whats been happening for the past many years etc etc. So starts a family feud.

They were asked to share the debt (which is obviously outrageous) and they denied. So, they were thrown out of the house. Nowhere to go. Nothing to eat. They didn't even know where they were going to sleep for the night. The husband was badly affected by the turn of events. His hands started trembling and he became too wary of everything. Unable to make decisions and afraid of everyone. He receded in a cacoon. Imagine a woman with 2 kids (11 and 9) and a husband to take care of.

She sent her children over to her mother's place. Somehow, they got a very shabby place to live. It was the backside of a shop. Nothing more than a passage. No cupboard, no rooms, nothing. Even a small gas and a bulb was a luxury. They couldn't even afford the meagre rent.

So, they decided to open up a shop. They had their now-shut-down old shop. But, the other brothers won't let them use it. They did their best to keep them away from it until they bore their part of the debt. Finally fed-up with all this, she decided to take matters in her own hands. She instructed her husband to act as if he had no control on her. Then she inaugrated the shop (with nothing to sell.. even keeping it open was a big deal!). Everytime anyone came to pull down the shutters, she used to go and stand beneath the shutter. The brothers even went to the level of sending some men over to threaten her. But, she won't budge. Finally, they gave up.

On the other side, the situation of her kids was equally bad. Her brother is a bit whimsical. He used to torment her kids. Swearing and expletives were common-place and calling his sister names was no big deal. So, the children had to be taken out of there. She brought them back tp her. Two more heads to support. But, no income.

Now, at the shop, they had another problem. No one would give them goods on credit and they didnt't have any money to buy the goods. So what would they sell at the shop?

By this time some of us got to know about her situation (she didn't even tell us until then!) and help poured in. So, she was able to start a small shop with only rare interferences from the brothers.

Today, 5 years after the drama, she has no debt on anyone. Her shop has goods worth more than 2Lakh. Her husband is doing better. Just a few days ago, she got an order of 12 television sets. Things are coming back to normal.

It would have been impossible without her courage and strength. Hats off to her!
Does she need empowerment? She made her own life!
We have heard thousands of stories of courage, but when you see one from so close, then you realise what it takes to live the story!