Women empowerment and domestic violence

It's all in the sun of her smile, the sparkling in her eyes. She is strong, bold and unabashed. She is the pillar of strength to her husband, and alma mater to her children. After all, she is a woman. This article focuses on the hardships of an Indian woman, Shanti who struggles to make the difference. There is a hop in her steps and she wins.

It was a late Sunday evening and I shared a cup of tea with her and sipped a few moments of her life. Born in a narrow dirt lane in the middle of Sonagachi in Kolkata, up a winding flight of stairs in a dark stingy room lived Shanti with her mother and 7 other siblings. She lost her father at a very young age. Being a single parent her mother married her off at the age of 14, when she hardly understood the meaning of marriage. Still she was happy, she would get to wear new clothes, eat a lot of sweets and go to a new place. She was very happy and excited.

She got up early in the morning and cooked food for the entire family, washed dishes, got water from the well, broomed and mopped the entire house. She was a victim of circumstances. She says her food smelled of dung. She tried sharing her pain with her husband. He kept staring at her and did not speak a single word and she realized she was cheated; she was married to a deaf and dumb guy. She had no one to complain to, all she had was pain and sufferings.

She disliked it, she resented. She was abused and beaten. She went to her mother's house in despair only to be kicked out after a few days. She now shifted to Rajasthan with her husband. Her husband found the job of a coolie. Shanti says in a determined voice,"I did not like seeing him toiling day and night for me, I wanted to help him". She started working in houses. She washed utensils and cooked food. Soon found her husband the job of a mason. She was a mother of three children. She had so many mouths to feed. She started working harder. She has left her children in her village and meets them once three years. She misses her children; wiping her tears from the corner of her eyes, she complains, she doesn't get to talk to them often. STD call rates are high. She now earns Rs. 6000 per month, owns a pucca house and her children study in a government school, which she takes pride in.

She is skinny and has a hidden and low-profile frame but has un-matchable strength. She is tanned and bony and stands unnoticed in a crowd. But when she was narrating her story she had twinkling eyes and a flame in heart. She looked charmed. I could sense her pain and agony. Behind her smile and wet sari pallu were hidden her sufferings, resentment and an acute desire to fly. She is loud yet soft-hearted. She is brave but scared of heights. She is the first one in the family to wake up but the last to take to bed. She has fierce arguments with her employers but makes up with a smile. She has ready anecdotes of her fights with her family members but stands up for them when needed.

A woman who meets new challenges each day but does not surrender to the hardships of life, who tried to define herself within her boundaries, fights her inner self and has broken many walls. She is radiant and builds up a positive aura around. She is an inspiration for all those women who crane out their neck for a breath for life.

Everyone has a journey with twists and turns of life. Like Shanti, there are many of us who carry our stories hidden in us throughout the life. We are scared of getting out of the four walls and fighting. She dared and did it! Strength is always around us, it's just that we need to find, feel and realize it. She is a modern Indian woman, a phenominal woman, who could take the whole world if she wanted to. Free, loving, larger than life. Proud to be a woman.

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