Saturday, May 26, 2018

Stop Haggling, Change Lives...

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
---Leo Tolstoy

Anklets, of various kind, are spread across the polythene sheet. Some silver coloured, some golden-coloured, some adorned with bright-coloured beads... each one with a different design, making tinkling sounds when you hold them in hand and examine which one is better. The middle-aged man, who is the owner of the makeshift stall, has nothing but these few anklets to offer to his customers. Beads of sweat line his forehead in the hot summer afternoon. His crinkled skin and the fine lines in his face tell the story of his daily struggle- struggle to make both ends meet with nothing but a few anklets to lure his customers with.

I was returning home after a shopping expedition with my mother when his anklets caught my attention. Some women are genetically programmed to love sarees and jewelleries. And I am one such woman. I immediately knew that I am going to buy at least one pair of anklets from this vendor. After examining a few, I zeroed in on a pair of silver-toned anklets. The anklets were looking stunning with multi-coloured crystals. 

"Dada, ei nupur-er daam koto?" ("How much do these anklets cost?"), I asked him.
"200 taka" ("200 Rupees"), he replied.
"Etar daam kokhonoi 200 taka hote pare na. 150 takay debe ki?" ("These can never cost as high as Rs. 200. Will you sell them at Rs. 150?"), my mother jumped into the scene and started to haggle immediately.
"Dite parbo na didi. 150 takay dile amar to kichhui labh thakbe na," ("Pardon me. I can't sell these at Rs. 150. That will leave little profit for me."), replied the vendor.

These kind of haggling with small-scale street-side retail sellers is a very common scene in street-side footpaths of India. People routinely bargain to settle for the lowest possible price. But the irony is that we can't bargain in this way when we buy from big shopping malls. Their products come with a fixed price-tag and we happily buy the same product at a much higher price from big shopping malls or shops with reputed brand names. We don't regret then, just because of the fact that the product bears the tag of some reputed brand. In the process, its these already impoverished street-side vendors who suffer. I convinced my mother that day to buy the anklets at Rs. 200, the price the vendor had fixed. If we all stop haggling with these street-side vendors and start buying their wares at the price fixed by them, we will not end up being impoverished for simply parting with a few more extra bucks, but these little acts of kindness can make a big difference in their lives. We can't change the world, but at least we can try to bring positive change in the lives of people around us. We can be a little more kind, a little more compassionate to fellow human beings. And believe me, if everybody become a little more kind, we can usher in a tidal wave of change. All we need is just to take that one small step - a step towards making the planet a little better to live in. Remember the quote of Albert Einstein: "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Birthday Note

Rising in the crest and falling in the trough,
The road of my life never smooth, but rough.
Ups and downs, highs and lows,
With each passing day, my wisdom grows.
Learning now to go with the tide,
And to enjoy a life that has been a roller-coaster ride.
Special thanks to my friends for not giving up -
Even when I failed to act like a grown-up.
Each birthday is a reminder of how far I have come -
Even when I choose to live life on my own term.

© 2018. Swagata Tarafdar. All rights reserved.

I wrote this poem on the occasion of my 34th birthday, which falls on 16th May, 2018. Originally I wrote this poem in Facebook to thank my friends for their unwavering support during the rough patch of my life. Many of my friends appreciated this poem when I wrote this on Facebook. So I am publishing it on my blog today for the world to read. Please share your valuable feedback in the comment section below.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Distant Love

You have become a midnight's dream now,
Distant and surreal-
As it seems in daybreak.

You have become the intricate patterns of mehendi on my open palms,
Faded after multiple wash-
Only a hint of stain still remaining.

You have become the dried petals of rose inside my notebook,
Crisp and fragile-
Only a faint fragrance still emanating.

Even then, to this day, I feel myself lucky.
How else could I have known love,
But for your presence in my life?

Love is that ambrosia,
Which can turn every poison into nectar.
And only you have let me to know of this.

© 2018. Swagata Tarafdar. All rights reserved.

This post has been published at Women's Web. Click here to read.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mother-in-law: The Other Woman in your Marriage

Recently someone requested me to share my experience regarding 'Emotional Conflict of a man stuck between his mother and wife'. I agreed almost instantly as I found the topic very relatable. I have experienced this during my brief marital life. Here goes my story. 

My ex-husband is the elder one among the two brothers. He has an elder sister too. My mother-in-law got married at an early age, when she was still in school. When even after five years of marriage, she couldn't conceive, she got very anxious. I heard that at that point of time, her mother-in-law threatened to get her son re-married. She made my mother-in-law furious and she retorted by telling her mother-in-law, who was a widow, to re-marry herself, if she was so keen about re-marriage. The old widowed lady got the shock of her life. Then after consulting various doctors in Kolkata, my mother-in-law conceived after five years of marriage and gave birth to a girl-child. My sister-in-law cannot be called 'beautiful' by the standards of beauty set by the Indian society. She is dark-complexioned, plump and short in height.

Three years after her birth, my now-ex-husband was born. Contrary to his sister, his features are handsome. This, coupled with the fact that he was a boy, made both his mother and grand-mother very happy. My mother-in-law somehow regained her lost prestige in her matrimonial home. By this time, both his parents shifted to Kolkata where my father-in-law worked as a school-teacher. Because of his fair complexion, his mother nick-named him 'Gora-chandan', which was later abbreviated as 'Chandan'. When Chandan was a child, he often insisted to sleep with his mother. So when his brother was born seven years after his birth, his mother ensured that this son didn't develop too much of attachment with her. After the initial years, his brother slept with his father and he, with his mother.

Ours was a typical arranged marriage. I knew very little about him or his family before marriage. On the day of our reception, my mother-in-law was telling every second guest how much his son loved her and how he would never think about living separately with his wife. After my marriage, she told me repeatedly about her son's devotion towards her. Few months after our marriage, I felt the need to live separately with my husband due to various reasons. To this, she replied that his son had his mother and siblings with whom he couldn't part. Meanwhile, I got pregnant and came to live with my mother. My mother-in-law never liked the daughter-in-law of her household living at her father's place for reasons beyond my comprehension. She called me telling that his son was feeling very lonely in his wife's absence. If this continued any further, she would have no other option other than getting her son re-married. I was sick and tired and simply told her to do as she pleased.

During my pregnancy, my husband used to come to my parents home on weekends to visit me. After a few weeks, I suppose on his mother's instruction, his visits became infrequent. When my son was born, she visited us in the hospital and told me to return at the earliest possible, which I bluntly refused. Consequently, she created a ruckus in the hospital saying that this child is not her own grand-son and she'll never allow him to enter her without without a DNA test. My relationship with my husband hit a rock-bottom.

Even after our divorce, my husband refused to return my wedding ornaments gifted by my parents. And guess who is the mastermind behind this sordid act. Its none other than my mother-in-law.

Once upon a time, Chandan used to be a very loving, caring and honest person. That person no-longer exists. What exists now is a shadow of that person. A psychiatric patient suffering from depression. I heard that he doesn't return from his office every night. When he is at home, his room is always closed. He doesn't talk to his family members or to his mother any more, other than asking for food when he is hungry. Yes, he still lives with his mother. And I came to know of all of these from his mother only.

Late one Saturday night, when I was composing the e-mail on this topic, some fleeting thoughts occurred to me. What can be the biggest obstacle in the path of a woman's marital bliss? Is it putting up with the frequent mood-swings of a partner, or catering to his needs? Or does the root of the problem lie deeper? A deeper introspection revealed that the root-cause of all the suffering of a woman is the other woman in her man's life: the much-dreaded mother-in-law. She is the mastermind behind the unfolding of the real story. It appears that women themselves are responsible for their miseries. They forget their own struggles, they forget that 'saas bhi kabhi bahu thi'. If we, the womenfolk, change ourselves, we can surely make the world a better living place for our fellow women.

P.S. No offence meant to anyone. It's just a personal opinion.

Header image is a still from the movie 2 States

This post titled My Mother-in-law Was The Other Woman In My Marriage has been published on Women’s Web as a Featured Post. Featured Posts are a careful selection of highly relevant and interesting posts picked by the editors of Women's Web each day. Here is the link to itClick here.

© 2018. Swagata Tarafdar. All rights reserved.

To My Unborn Daughter

Barbie dolls and frocks of bright hue,
Reminds me of my yearning for you. 
Swinging merrily in the mellow afternoon sunlight, your face gleams,
Now-a-days, you come so often in my dreams.
Pink ribbons and disney hair-clips-
And the cutest pout on your lips.
Impish grin and mischievous eyes-
You'll believe in living life queen size.
I softly plant a kiss on your forehead,
And croon a lullaby as I put you to bed.
Grow up princess, I whisper into your ears-
You'll surely be matchless among your peers.

Image via Unsplash

This post has been published at Women's Web. Click here to read.