Just as I was thinking of a subject for this week’s column, the ‘thekedars’ of this society that I live in came to my rescue. Actually, I am wondering if I should expend my energy in praising TV presenter Mandira Bedi for leading her husband’s funeral rites or in venting out my anger against those who thought it their moral right to troll her. I’ll choose the latter and spew some of the venoms that has been collecting in my system.
I am not even going to repeat any of them here because I don’t endorse a sick mentality. I salute Mandira Bedi for having the courage to do what she did. And let me tell one and all, she was not trying to prove anything to anyone when she carried her husband’s bier or lit the pyre. She had every right to do it for the man she loved. Who the hell has the right to tell her how she will bid the final farewell?
She was also trying to protect her son from the horrific experience of attending the funeral at such a young age. I have seen young boys, not even 10 years old being forced to undergo the trauma of performing the last rites of their father. How can you justify such rituals?
It is downright insensitive and cruel to target her for the choice of clothes she wore. All those who have aimed their arrows at her should be ashamed of themselves for being so hypocritical even in the face of death. Was she first supposed to look for appropriate clothes in her wardrobe when she rushed him to the hospital and lose precious time? Or was she supposed to come back home with his dead body, make a dash for her cupboard and select her whites instead of taking care of the funeral arrangements or her two little kids? Do her clothes define the degree of her grief?
Don’t we just love seeing grieving widows in all white sobbing away on the shoulders of relatives? An object of pity, ‘bechari’ ‘loot gayi’! It is almost as if she has an obligation towards society to look as helpless as possible. The strength of the ‘moral police force’ seems to depend on how weak or vulnerable the widow is. They dare not let the scale tip in her favour, so they play the religion, tradition and ritual card. There never was such a misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the word ‘Sanskar.’
I also have a score to settle with Bollywood for playing up the emotional drama of widowhood in commercial cinema. Haven’t we been fed on stereotypes of weeping widows in white sarees, breaking their bangles, pulling off their mangalsutra and wiping off their sindoor while sorrowful, tear-jerking music played in the background? We are well aware of Bollywood being a big influencer in Indian society. We copy both, the larger-than-life wedding celebrations portrayed in Hindi films and the emotionally packed funeral scenes. Although some responsible filmmakers have made an effort to portray the opposite i.e. what happens in ‘real’ life on the ‘reel,’ I am sorry to say the damage was done long back.
I am not going to beg merciless netizens to keep their patronizing patriarchal notions to themselves. You know what? I can give them the choicest ‘gaalis’ but unfortunately, all our expletives demean women. And I will not have anything insult womanhood.
Let hundreds of Mandira Bedis rise for each troll that dares women!