Alka Tai, a very vibrant and smiling woman is not more than 25 years of age. Her tragedy, that she is a widow; is completely hidden by her eager talk and confident exterior. She has a 6 year old son who is the sole purpose in her life. She stays with her in laws and works from morning till evening to keep her home on running wheels. Recently, she mentioned that her brother in law got married and his bride would be like a good friend to her in the house. In fact, after a couple of months, Alka Tai did mention that she now has less work at home and it feels good to talk to another woman of similar age. We all were very happy to know about the developments in Alka's life.
One day, though, Alka Tai was sweeping the floor without her warm smile. We all asked her the reason for her being so glum. Alka was more than eager to talk about her feelings. She mentioned that she had all along wanted to go to see the Ganpati pendals in Pune city since 3-4 years. But she had to suppress all her wishes because being a widow she did not want to ask her then unmarried brother in law and nor her in laws, who were growing old and would have found the long walk trouble some. And though after welcoming her sister in law with all her heart, she found that she would not be able to accompany the newly weds. We all tried to cheer her up and mentioned that the new couple needs to spend time with each other; she might as well take her son with her. But Alka Tai was not to be pacified as she went on that her sister in law would not agree to go for she needed to study for her coming examinations. This was a surprise to us all as a couple of hours of family time would not have made a dent in the examination schedule which was in fact 15 days later. Anyway, we all did our best and suggested that she plan the outing with her few women friends.
The next day, Alka Tai was her radiant self again. Her effervescence prompted the obvious question from all of us. To this Alka Tai replied that indeed she had visited all the Ganpati pendals in the vicinity with all her women friends who all got together and had made plans. The dinner had been simple to give ample time to each woman to utilize time for herself. The best part was that Alka Tai's sister in law had taken a keen interest in the gathering of 'all girl group' and had decided to join them. The sudden shift from family to women friends had been a big boost for every woman. The need to find mutual solution to their individual problems had given each woman a sense of independence as well as a sense of belonging in the crowd.
With this Alka Tai narrated all the happenings and a detailed description of all Ganpati idols and their decoration. I could only smile at her new found happiness and freedom.