Kusum Bua : The unsung warrior
A mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relation has been the most talked about relations in our society since ages. It has got too much of hype and our Bollywood and media has cashed it to the fullest. It is a sweet and sour relation and it depends on one’s luck whether they get more of sweetness or more of bitterness. But without any doubt, this relation makes an important part of a female’s life and effects it profoundly whether she is a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law.
We have heard a lot of stories about this relation from media and from other sources. We have stories of torturing mother-in-laws and mother-in-laws setting their daughter-in-laws on fire because of dowry. We do have stories where daughter-in-laws exploit their old in-laws. But here I am going to present an unusual story that never caught attention of the media and could not influence and inspire millions across the country as it was never written or told by anyone. This is a true story, which greatly influenced me a long time back when I was in school. Well, with the passage of time I got busy with other stuffs in the life and forgot to deliver it to women like us. A talk with my old school friend recently revived that incidence and I took the chance to write about it as this is one story which inspires womanhood and make us feel proud of it.
This is a story about a wonderful mother-in-law, Kusum Bua (that’s how we called her). She is aunt of my school friend. She is an illiterate woman who never went to school, who comes from a small village near Patna and who cannot even speak proper Hindi. I have not met her for more than a decade but I still recall her as a simple village woman dressed up in soft printed cotton sari draped around in a typical Bihari style and a pair of Bata slippers. Her hair were always oiled and well combed with a mid partition and a braid at back ending into bow of ribbon. I do not recall any moment when I saw her without a pallu on her head and a pure loving smile on her face. The only language she could comfortably speak was Bhojpuri. She was like hundreds of those countryside women, but what made her unique was her courage to follow her heart and her sincerity and devotion to relationships in life. Her immense faith in God helped her to go through the ups and downs in life with a courageous smile on her face.
She had two sons who got best education in the country and graduated from IIT and IIM. Her elder son got engaged with a pretty B.Com graduate girl named Priyanka. She was a motherless girl who lost her mother soon after her birth and was brought up by her father and grandmother. Soon after the engagement Kusum bua’s husband expired. He died of cancer that remained undiagnosed till the end. Relatives and friends accused the girl of being unlucky and asked Kusum bua to call off the marriage. But she did not do that. She got her 27-year-old elder son married to this innocent girl. Just after a week of their marriage, the newly wed groom died in a road accident in Patna. The whole family was devastated by this young death. People kept accusing the new bride of her ill fate. Kusum bua was pelted down by various suggestions from the relatives like sending the young widow back to her parent’s house, as she was inauspicious for the family. Kusum bua stood immune to those suggestions and refused to send the girl back to her family even when her father came to fetch her. She answered all the remarks and suggestions from the relatives and friends by saying that she can feel the pain of that young girl of 21. She always protected Priyanka from those harsh remarks and suggestions like a mother. She often said that she could feel the pain of a daughter that she never had.
After 6 months of her elder son’s death, she went with her younger son and widow daughter-in-law to Haridwar for performing some rituals for her dead son. When they returned home after a week, everyone was shocked to find that her younger son and her widow daughter-in-law were tied into marital knot. She kept it a secret from everyone. This widow remarriage was highly criticized by friends and relatives and even by the girl’s family. It was taken as a disgrace for our Rajput community. Kusum bua faced every remark and criticism with a bold smile. She said that she could not find a better bride for her son and a more secure house for her daughter. Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Mumbai where her son was having his job. Kusum bua kept visiting them every now and then. It was a bit of discomfort for the newly wed couple also to accept each other as their spouses under those circumstances. She asked them to give it time and space to grow. Both of them respected and followed her decision. Time healed all the gaps and today they are a happily married couple.
After few years of their marriage, relatives and friends started being inquisitive about the arrival of a child. The couple remained childless for many years. As usual, people accused Priyanka for being ill-fated and Kusum bua for being out of mind as she got her younger son married to her without horoscope matching. She was considered naïve and responsible for ruining her younger son’s life. She never retaliated back to any of those remarks. She said that she has immense faith in God and she knows that she did the right thing. She always advocated that her son has got the best wife who is a wonderful friend to him and they do not need any child to prove the perfection of their marriage.
A childless life was depressing Priyanka. But with support from her sensible husband and her loving mother in law she overcame the depression. They supported her to continue with her higher studies and become a Chartered Accountant. Kusum bua stayed with her all the time to make her feel better. Priyanka always says that it was due to the effort and love of her Ma that she could become so successful in her career.
I was too happy to hear it from my friend that the couple has been blessed with a baby girl on ‘ashtmi’ after 12 years of their marriage. Kusum bua has named her grand daughter ‘Gauri’ after Goddess Parvathi. She welcomed her with a simple decent celebration that was attended by my friend. She stood as a proud Grandma and thanked her daughter in law for that little gift. She took this opportunity to answer back all the past remarks from her family and relatives. She said that Priyanka was the best thing that ever happened to her family- the best wife and the best daughter that any one could imagine of.
My eyes are moist and my throat is choked as I write this story. Priyanka, who has been always considered unlucky by everyone, is perhaps the luckiest girl to be blessed with such beautiful marriage and such loving and caring mother in law. How many daughter-in-laws get such unconditional love of a mother from their mother in law? And how many grandmothers thank their daughter-in-law for giving them a granddaughter?
I just wanted to share this story with everyone because having souls like Kusum bua around us makes us realize that life is beautiful and worth living. She teaches every female to give unconditional love and devotion to nurture her relations whether she is a mother, a daughter, a wife, a daughter-in-law or a mother-in-law. She got no recognition or applauds from any media or any Women organization, but she certainly deserves a hearty appreciation and congratulation from women like us across the globe.
I wish the family a lot of happy moments and joy with their new bundle of joy.
//This post has been written as a part of the “Warrior Women” blogathon at Women’s Web in association with Juggernaut Books//
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