I always loved travelling by local train. In fact during most of my college life and subsequent years, I spent a lot of time travelling in Mumbai local trains. Here everyone may be a stranger but yet they are more familiar than family members. You can be yourself in front of these strangers and the max they will do is smile encouragingly at your wierdness.
This is a story of one summer morning, when I took my regular train to work. The 8.20 am Vasai Local. Now any office goer knows the tactics of taking a down train but the speciality of this train was that it does not halt anywhere post borivali. When the train reduced its speed while approaching the platform, every body was in their position to pounce for their seat to sit or a place to stand. A usual practice at any platform during the rush hours in Mumbai.
That day also the train slowed down and we all got inside the train. Everyone rushed inside the train and were soon seated. I suddenly noticed, that One particular seat was not being occupied. On further checkhing with my co-passengers, I found that there was a senior elderly lady lying down. She was decently dressed and would have probably missed her station as she slept.
The women, politely woke her up.
She looked scared.
Upon asking her, which station, she wanted to get down, she looked confused. The train was honking and was about to leave.
A couple of women, pulled the chain and we were waiting for the RPF officials or a TTE to come down and check upon our compartment. In the meanwhile, some women offered, her water, gave her some biscuits and snacks with her to carry and some money, which she politely refused to take claiming, she has her own money.
A lady RPF official came and took her along with her. Once, she left, the train resumed its journey, some women were busy with their phones, some with their knitting, some reading newspapers, some sleeping and the few left were chatting with their friends.
The topic of discussion in the entire train was the same about the women we met. A woman who was probably homeless. We presume, she was either thrown away by her children, or grandchildren, probably because of her ripe age. There were many presumptions that could be made, but it all boiled down to the fact that she was now homelss probably.
The discussion amongst the women, then slowly shifted to homeless women in general. Everyone was blaming the younger generation, and also on the modern upbringing and western influence as one of the main reason for that woman being homeless.
Well is it really true ?
I feel women were always homeless because our home is based on our relationships and not on the place of residence or time of residence. Ideally as per the law and culture, the place where the husband and wife reside together, is the house of the women or what we call as the matrimonial house. For Raksha Bandhan, she goes to her Brother’s house. During her delivery, she goes to her parents house, she is married into her husband’s house, later on she shifts into her son’s house, if unfortunately, she is single or diorced, she resides in her father’s house or brother’s house. To say a woman, has many houses, but each house is defined by her relationship with the man of the house.
In many foreign countries, they say, that when a couple gets married, they move in together, but in India, the wife goes to a Husband’s house. Yes officially, today women are buying property and inheriting property in their own name, but how much does our society, accept the fact, that a woman can own a house.
All said and done, women will always be a guest at her parents home, and an outsider at her husband’s home, who has changed their son.
It is high time to accept that women also need to be identified for their existence and not on the basis of their mere relationship, with the men in their life. It is time for the society to change its thinking.
I had shared/ this story at my 4th open mic with Untold Tales in Mumbai.
P.C.: Freeimages.com, wikipedia.com, youtube.com, the metrognome,