Even her parents didn't want her to be normal and happy after being widowed

When she lost her husband she expected support and strength from her nearest and dearest

Dipannita Ghosh Biswas | Posted on 11 Apr 2017
Time to read: 3 min
Her own family were unsupportive of her needs
Let me be!

Am I a woman with loose morals? Have I been unfair to my son? Is it wrong to want to be happy and live a ‘normal’ life? Why did destiny choose to be especially hard for someone like me, who only wanted to live a secure and comfortable life? Innumerable questions as these plague my mind whenever I look back, questions to which I have no answers. I wonder why it’s so tough for those around me, even my parents, to see me smiling and at peace. It wasn’t so a few years back though.

We lived happily – my engineer husband and little son – but 19th September 2013 had something else in store for me. I had to come to terms with the brutal reality that my husband was no more, that too under mysterious circumstances. I didn’t know what or who to believe as I felt my whole world shift gears in the matter of a few hours. I became a widow and with that tag a whole list of don’ts were enforced on me.

No wearing jeans, tees, coloured clothes or any jewellery – I was asked to shun everything that I was comfortable in. I was in no state of mind to stand up for myself and silently accepted what came my way.

My heart told me that things wouldn’t be so bad when I went to my parents’ home. Little did I know that the treatment meted out to me and the expectations from me – a widow – wouldn’t be any different there.

I was craving normalcy and wanted to laugh aloud, crack a joke with everyone, dress my best and head out, but I was bound by invisible societal shackles. The more I wanted to forget it all, the more I found myself getting pulled into a web of life-post-widowhood norms.

My sister’s wedding celebrations came as a welcome break in the midst of this and the faint glimmer of a smile followed me wherever I went. She came visiting one day soon after and our conversation shook me from within. She informed me about her in-laws’ unease at me being an integral part of all their wedding festivities – I gathered their only query was: “But why won’t a widow behave like one? Why does she want to include herself in mainstream society?”

“And why not?” I want to ask all these so-called well-wishers and family members. I don’t see any reason why a widow needs to be prevented from living a regular life or taking part in festivities.

Why does society want to smother a woman who has lost her husband? I don’t see a difference between people who have such restricted thoughts and the age-old custom of sati.

Determined to live my life my way, I resumed wearing clothes that I was comfortable in and eating food that I relished. The result: my parents began abusing my son and me verbally and physically and let me know that I had no right to live with them.

Emotionally and physically I have been fighting a lone battle with a small child to support as well. The going has been far from easy and when I found a like-minded and generous soul who willingly stood by me and my son, I was labelled a woman of loose morals. I draw strength from him and see him pulling me above the deep trenches that society has pushed me into. He respects me for who I am and the way I want to live my life and that’s reason enough for me to stand by him.


Pinky Bhuyan

I fail to understand why the scale is so unbalanced when it comes to a woman who has lost her spouse. It’s almost as if she has instantly given up all rights to live her life, her way. Just when a woman is battling her inner demons and coming to terms with the loss of a life partner, she finds herself alienated and isolated by what society deems right. I want to start my life afresh and why shouldn’t I? Why are my needs looked down upon? And such discrimination from people I call my own!

The stigma attached to widows even today is sometimes greater than the loss of one’s spouse. While we pride ourselves as a forward thinking society and nation, the truth is very murky.  It’s not much I’m asking for – be happy for me, laugh with me – let me be. 

(Pinky Bhuyan, as told to Dipannita Ghosh Biswas)

In a previous story, Urmimala Das asks bravely why society concerns itself with her sexual and emotional needs as a widow, when she isn't harming anyone.

Comments : 8

Nicole: It's so sad that even in today's so-called "progressive" day and age, women are still treated with no respect, dignity or humanity. Even by the "educated". I agree, how is Pinky's story any different from the tradition of sati?

pinkybhuyan: Thanks Dipannita to contribute at my write up. Your expression capability is superb,will catch you, when I have need support in future


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