At school we had a lesson called “Bengali bahu” it was the story of a young Brahmin boy from Allahabad, who marries a Bengalis Brahmin his family refuses to accept the couple because Bengoli’s are fish eaters. Interestingly the families share a maid, and one day the maid informs the family that the Bengalis Bahu is very sick, the older daughter in law sneaks to the brother-in-law’s house to deliver food, she meets the brother-in-law’s wife for the first time and is amazed by her beauty. Unfortunately the Bengalis bahu is too sick to talk.
When she returns her mother-in-law says ”Bengalis women are so beautiful, even though dark” that’s when the daughter –in-law realizes that the mother-in-law had visited the house too. The mother in law had kept quiet not wanting to upset her mother in law, “after all the girl fell sick tending to my son who near death, if it was not for her I would have lost my son.” The old Matriarch hearing this says then why are we leaving the two children alone, bring them here, I visited them too, but kept quiet as I did not want to upset you.
I remembered this story when I hear Maria counseling Theresa yesterday. Maria is in her early sixties, she said”sitting alone in my rocking chair I am ashamed of my assumptions. Don’t do the mistake that I did.”
“??” Theresa raised an eyebrow.
“you are marrying into a traditional family at Gaya, so you are reluctant to visit them, what makes you feel they won’t accept you?”
“uh! Such old fashioned Brahmins accepting a catholic!”
Maria smiled and shared her story. She was married to a traditional Assamese Brahmin. First two times she went to her husband’s place now in Bangladesh; there was a terrible communication gap as she knew no Assamese and her mother-in-law new no other language. Neither was her atheist husband comfortable with the environment at the traditional Brahmin house.
When her husband passed away her treatment she got at the hands of her friends at Bombay made her more reluctant to go to her husband’s village, but as he had requested that his ash be dispersed in the river by the house, she went.
She said, the village women escorted her, made her sit at a very honored place, washed her feet, wiped it dry with their pallu’s consoled her telling her she should not feel alone and they were with her, her sisters-in-law she says treated her with so much affection she felt guilty of the judgment she had passed.
It was now 10yrs since her widowhood, but she had bonded with her husband’s family like never before, she shuttles between Bangladesh and Goa she is at peace.
Lets hope Theresa finds her home too.

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