THE WIFE WITHOUT A HUSBAND

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Robert Frost once said “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Yet to think that someone’s life must come to a dolorous state simply because someone they loved died is stupid. Life never stops for anyone. We continue to live and traverse this journey called life. Yet the world expects a woman who lost her husband to never be happy again.

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A woman without her husband is treated as if she no longer has the right to be merry or live her life. She is presumed to lead a dull and colourless life after that. Life is not in our hands, and we know how uncertain life is, so why do we treat women as if she was the cause of it all?

Why do we condemn and punish her? Why is a victim treated like a perpetrator?

A woman without her husband has to face many problems in this society. She is looked upon as weak and incapable of independent survival. Even though women have proved that they no longer need a man to support her financially, the society believes a man to be the ultimate bread-winner of the house? And it is this very belief that leads to the idea that a wife’s world must come to an end after the husband is gone.

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If we delve deeper into our own history we would know that such prejudices are not the idea of the 21st century but they date back to thousands of years ago. Earlier women were forced to immolate themselves with her husband’s pyre.

It was considered as her duty to accompany her husband in death. She was then considered as a ‘good wife’ and also supposed to have gained supernatural powers. Women would touch the garment of the widow in order to receive her blessings. After her death on the pyre, the woman would supposedly be transformed into the shape of the ‘satimata’, a spiritual embodiment of goodness.

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But this is not as far as we can go, when we travel even further down the historical lane; we have accounts of Diodorus regarding this practice. According to Diodorus the practice, more commonly known as sati, started because Indians married for love and after these marriages turned sour, the wife would tend to poison her husband and run away with her lover. In order to stop this sati originated.

We also have other historical references to this practice, though none of them require a woman to immolate herself against her wishes. Still this tradition did take a vicious form and we have incidences as recent as the 21st century where women were forcibly burned on their husband’s pyre.

Sati was eventually banned but its effect still reverberates through our society, because the basic idea that a wife is worthless without the husband is still there in our minds. We still look at a widow with pitiful eyes. And the society has yet again created another definition for a ‘good wife’.

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In rural areas still a woman is outcast ed from the other family members, she is suppose to eat alone, cook for herself and never wear colorful dresses, and for what, to continue a tradition, the origin to which we do not even know today? Does that even appear logical?

Losing a loved one is of course a very sad thing and it is very hard to live without them. At the same time we know that it is all a part of life and we can never gain control over it. We can only accept it as it comes and learn to deal with it.

Being a widow is one of the biggest crimes that a woman can commit in this society. It does not end here. Even when a woman seeks to begin a new life and to find a new partner for herself, the world would not accept it. Remarriage is still considered as a taboo for a widow. Remarriage puts into question her morality and dignity.

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We regret losing our loved ones, but if by God’s grace someone finds love again why should it be rejected? Why a woman’s character must be doubted just because she married again? So what is a widow suppose to do? If a woman loses her husband at a very young age should she plan to live the rest of her life alone?

Life never stops for anyone and force a woman to lead a miserable life because her husband died is rather foolish. It is yet another way to increase the sufferings of a wife who is in grief. Women no longer are dependent on their husbands as they once were, so today a woman may be sad or grieve the loss of her husband but she still can stand boldly and face life as it comes.

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