Three Women, Three Classes — Single Fate. (Story of Woman 1)

Woman 1
Woman 1

I’m writing about three Indian women here: three Bengali, Indian women from Bengal, India.

Recently at a Calcutta talk in front of a gathering of activist women, I spoke about these three women I personally have known. A few of the sisters who were present at the talk and especially those who heard about it later asked me that I wrote about it in my blog, so that more people could come to know about them. Hence, this write-up.

I’m going to make it short. I’m just going to describe their stories and leave the judgment up to you. But because I am the blog writer and I take ownership of what I write, I already titled it in a way that sort of gives away the moral of the story. The moral is: regardless of the socioeconomic class she comes from, an Indian woman even today carries a very similar fate. With some exceptions, Indian women carry the inbuilt attribute of discrimination, destruction and death.

(Well, Indian men, or for that matter, American men — especially from the lower rungs of the society — also carry the same fate, but perhaps not in such a pronounced way. Well, you just read it through: you’ll know what I’m talking about. Enough introduction. And believe me, I’m not even writing about the incredibly high number of Indian women who appear to be alive, but are actually dead. They come from the different social and economic classes too.)

One woman — a young, beautiful, vibrant, well-educated, highly articulate woman in her early thirties — worked for an uppity media organization. Visibility was her second name. Popularity was her nickname.

On a fateful night, she fell ill. She threw up and told her husband she had severe pain in her belly. The husband did not call a doctor or took her to the hospital immediately. I don’t know what the circumstances were: I was not present. I maybe wrong on some specifics. What I heard later was that even though there was enough reason to believe that she had a serious, life-threatening health situation, and the woman was crying in pain, and the fact that there were at least a dozen of high-end hospitals and nursing homes within five miles of where they lived in Calcutta, at the insistence of a local doctor who came for a house visit later, the husband took her to one of the worst possible nursing homes nearby even though money was not an issue and her top-class place of employment would gladly reimburse for her treatment.

The young woman was left practically untreated for ten to twelve hours at that horrible place they called a nursing home. She died around five thirty in the evening. It was only after her death her parents and sister came to know that she was so gravely ill for the whole day (in fact, the husband called the sister and her husband; when they volunteered help, the husband told them they didn’t need to come!!). Her parent-in-law did not do much to save her, either. Maybe, she was also frozen, callous and inefficient at the turn of the events — just the way the husband was. I’m not blaming anyone. I’m only narrating the story as I heard it.

Moral of the story. — If the husband had gotten sick instead, the Indian woman would sell an arm and a leg to find the best possible treatment for him. She would also call as many people as possible to help out because in India, you need people to help out. If it were the husband, the woman would not have left him in a hellish nursing home to die untreated. Regardless of the severity of the illness, whether or not the person could be saved, the woman would have left no stone unturned to try to to save him. That is the difference between an Indian man and an Indian woman.

Post Script or Footnote. — Recently, I visited the grieving parents and sister of the young woman. The parents were frozen; the sister was angry that her older sister was taken away so abruptly. A colleague and friend of the deceased woman took me to their home. She was grieving too. She and her coworkers wanted to find justice for this gross medical malpractice; however, after repeated tries, neither the husband nor anybody higher up would help. That is the ultimate tragedy: no justice served — either for the young woman whose life was taken away or the others whose life will be similarly taken away by the same people, same medical malpractice, same type of husbands or boyfriends, and same indifference the typical Indian-Bengali patriarchal way.

(To be continued. Please come back.)