ilaa... a woman

                               Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named ilaa. Being cotton farmers, her family was well to do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmer grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak! But ilaa was not to be found in the fields. She was not working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.
“I am sick of this!” she grunted loudly. She was talking to her best friend; Godavari - The river. ilaa used to come here almost daily to talk to her friend. ilaa always spoke and Godavari used to listen. Sometimes Godavari used to show her reaction by making sounds of its flowing water. She become silent to listen her, she showed anger with ilaa's anger and she even danced with ilaa's happiness when she gave birth to a beautiful girl six year ago... 
But today ilaa was sad, she never had been so helpless. She was seeing this face of people for the first time. 
She never had been faced any discrimination before. She was brought up by her grandfather, as her father and mother died few days after her birth... And she was thankful to god that she was brought up by her grandfather... Her grandfather was the man of 15th century who had influence of Vedic India. Then there was no concept of inequality or equality between girls and boys, so ilaa got all the education, she had read all Vedas and Sasstars. And before marriage she also used to help her grandfather in his cotton business. She married to the son of her grandfather's friend cum business partner. She just asked one question to her in-law family and that was whether she would be allowed to work with her husband in their cotton business. Everyone was aware of her talent in that business so they said ‘yes’ very easily. But she forgot to ask for one more thing because of which today was crying in front of Godavari...
She never thought about this problem because she never knew world would change that much in so little time.
That was the period of transformation. That was the time when men changed, women changed, flow of river changed and time changed. Nature that used to blossom with the happiness of women in India, now same nature didn’t even want to take breath in the air filled with smell of women’s dead desires and women’s dead freedom. That was the time when science and economy were getting roots in India... But values of humanity were losing its foundation. And that economy and science was cementing the ego of males. 
This was the time when the ‘Purdah’ system was followed which resulted in seclusion of women. Education of women in whatever form came to be stopped. Child marriage was started. During this period the inhuman practice of ‘sati’ Pratha, child marriage, girl killing etc. were the main social evils of this period.
But ilaa was brought up listening to the stories of saints like Chaitanya, Nanak, Kabir, Meera, Ramdas and Tulsi who stood for the right of women to religious worship. So she cannot swallow what was happening with her daughter.
The condition which she didn’t set in front of her husband before marriage was that her daughter would go to school and would get education in whatever field she would like. 
Everyone in her husband’s family was crying when she gave birth to a Girl child. But she took stand for her daughter and that day also she was standing in front of her in-laws for rights of her daughter. Her six year daughter was standing behind her, trying to hide herself in the palu of her mother’s saari. Six year girl was afraid of her father who was shouting at her mother with a chhurra in his hand. 
“She is crush on my family. I should have killed her on the day she born.” ilaa’s husband was shouting at both of them with pointing that chhurra on ilaa’s daughter. I know it was his daughter also but to call him a ‘father’ will be sin. 
“I told you to kill this girl, but you didn’t listen to me! Now forfeit!” ilaa's heart fell in the bottom of her stomach listing her mother-in-law's words... No one wanted a girl, no one wanted poetry, no one wanted music here. Everyone here was for production, for strength, for boys... This was a male dominating society. I don’t know when and why India gave birth to this society.
"At least you understand maa! Education is important for a girls also. You are also a girl." ilaa tried to unveil one more truth in front of her mother-in-law.
“I am also a girl. That’s why I am saying this. We are living in a society and this society has some rules. We have to follow them. I respect my society and my traditions.” 
"This society don't allow women to run any business. But you allowed me for that. Then why can't you allow this?" ilaa knew the answer of this question. She knew that people were always ready to break rules for their own benefits. Otherwise they were obedient to rules.
“This was my first mistake, and we all are paying for it. We can't make same mistake again. Your grandfather was fool who educate you, now we are paying for his foolishness" her mother-in-law's words were slapping on ilaa's face.
"Maa Ji....!!!!!" Unknowingly she shouted on her mother-in-law which was a great sin in India to shout on your elders irrespective of whatever they are doing or saying...
Her husband took step ahead and slapped ilaa.
"You can't shout at my mother..!!!!" In that century, husband beating his wife was kind of legal. It was the story of every house but for ilaa it was first time. ilaa was from the ‘teachings’ where even looking at women with disrespect is sin. She was shattered in one slap. But still she had to keep herself standing on her feet to protect her daughter. Otherwise she would be broken and scattered on floor. But she kept herself tied and unit.
Even before starting this discussion, ilaa knew these arguments would never end doesn't matter who is right and wrong. And for her in-law it was not the matter of right and wrong, it was deep inside their heart and mind. These concepts were running in their veins which can’t be filtered by any argument. So she gave up arguing. Her silence and pain on his cheek brought tears in her eyes and a line of blood from her lips.
"If this discussion will ever start in this house again then I will not hesitate to kill you both." ilaa's husband said on her face. But this threat didn't touch ilaa, because she was already brimming with grief.
Everyone went inside house. ilaa and her frightened daughter were still hugging each other crying in the patio. ilaa knew this family would never allow her to educate her daughter. Her grandfather was no more so she can’t even go there. She can’t go anywhere. This was the termination point. No right or left turn, no U-turn and no further road. ilaa used to crush those women who committed suicide but now she can understand, now she can justify suicide.
She spent whole night in the patio with her daughter sleeping in her lap. Whole night she waited for the light of hope, whole night she kept beholding the face of her daughter. Innocent face of her daughter didn’t let her to give up. Her daughter’s face was demanding a better life. ilaa can’t let her daughter live in the prison of this society. She knew life can be beautiful. She knew life can be larger than age. She knew it because she had experienced it when she was with her grandfather. Her life stopped after marriage. She can’t imagine her daughter having the same lifeless life. 
Sun rose on her daughter face with a soft grin. That smile changed something inside ilaa. That smile filled her with valor. Her eyes found a way, her eyes brought her to the open main gate of the house. She didn't think twice before making decision to escape from these so-called civilized humans. She didn't know where she was going but she didn't stop. She woke her daughter up and said "let's go Beti."
"Where Maa?"
"Let's see what mother nature is having for us.".answered ilaa and placed her hand on her daughter head.
Both escaped from that house and society where people try to possess people just to feed their ego, and where people used traditions as the walls of prision. They don't live and they don't let others live. ilaa just left everything behind, she didn't even look back at the house where she spent 7 years of her age. And reason was clear she didn't have anything there which she wanted to take with her in her further life and what she wanted to take with her in her further life was walking with her, holding her hand; her Daughter.
She heard something, when she turned she saw villagers with her husband running towards her with laathi in their hands. She knew they would kill both. She ran into the forest as fast as she can with her daughter.
Her feet stopped seeing her best friend cum sister in front of her. She stopped at the banks of Godavari.
Tears rolled down from her eyes seeing her sister in front of her eyes. She felt like home. She wanted to embrace Godavari.
ilaa looked back, people were still behind her. In front of her was 250 ft wide Godavari and her daughter was besides her; holding her hand more tightly. 
ilaa folded her hands in front of Godavari and for the first time asked something from her sister, “my and my daughter’s life is in your hand Godavari, either dissolve us in you or take us somewhere we can live in peace and freedom. But please don’t take us in this kind of society. Please help me Bhen” ilaa jumped into the river with her daughter…    
Godavari felt ashamed when she was searching for a place in India where women can live with respect.


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