When I started my journey from Mumbai to Kolkata by Jnaneshwari Super Deluxe passenger train (Spelled Gyaneshwari) I was filled with joy, sorrow, hope, anxiety and various other emotions clogging my brain and I was sifting through the pages of The Kite Runner ready to read for the second time while answering the queries put forth by fellow passenger who happened to be a lady of 84 years travelling all alone. The other co-passenger were a bunch of Marwari ladies belonging to the same family going Kolkata for three days to shop for the upcoming wedding in there family. An entire compartment filled with ladies and it doesn’t take much time for me to start a conversation.
After the series of introduction I realised that every individual on this earth is disappointed with there own strata and the age old proverb stands true,” the grass is always greener on the other side of the road”.
Those Marwari girls were unhappy because they are not allowed to work or study, they have the mighty freedom to shop anywhere and anything at any amount but they are not provided with the opportunity to work and earn there own moolah. It was quite a knowledgeable discussion where I came to know about other coveted community of Marwari’s, about Agarwal’s where dowry is demanded before hand and if the bride’s family doesn’t fit the standard then they are not allowed to bring there Rishta (proposal) to the boy’s house. While listening to these stories the old aunty who was sitting across the table on the other seat said “I am more than 80 years old!” and everyone stunningly looked at her…an old lady with withered body, mix of grey and white hair, stout face and talking like a teenager excitedly tells the five marwari girls “why don’t you rebel?” I was looking at her face with enthusiasm as she narrated her story.
She lost her father at a very young age and being the oldest she had the responsibility of the entire household and her mother couldn’t materialise her wedding ceremony and finally she completed her studies Bachelor in Arts with English Majors (wonder 65 years ago!!) and then she started teaching after her retirement now she stays with her elder sister taking care of all her siblings and she had come Mumbai with her younger brother to drop him at his son’s place as he is unwell who is 60 years old. I was wondering how she manages to be so strong at this age and to note that at two stations her relatives came with food and gifts to meet her.She has lead a life which she never desired for yet she is contended and I looked at my seat where we all youngsters were sitting and complaining about our situations, where on one hand I have a job and was wishing if I could shop till I drop but I was bound by financial constraints and the other girls who had money everywhere but they wanted to earn and stand on there own. Of course I had the privilege of having my own identity and I adore that more than anything but this trip had been one of those where I could see three different perspectives and all three agreeing at a point which said “with time we need to change” because change is the need of the hour. Progress is good but not at the cost of defying our culture and heritage but today it is important that every individual needs to earn as there is no guarantee of anyone’s future as I came to know that if you live life of a Marwari widow you live the life of a caged women crying, wearing blue sari and they are not allowed to be a part of the societal obligations.
To spice up the conversation there came a girl who self volunteered and told that she is a Bengali model and Tv actress and was fagging at the door and chitchatting with the vendors and we all were wondering how low one can get to grab attention and then we realised that at the end of the second day the entire compartment had one purpose gossip about the female who was wearing a gogs(inside the AC compartment of the train at night!!), dangerously low waist cotton pants and t-shirt which I guess was bought when she had been a small kid!! Ahh..she was the lone piece who was talked I would say bitched and gossiped about till the train reached Howrah station where we all bid goodbye without offering our bye’s to each other but silently we all know that people whom we meet on a journey are like the footprints on a seashore, when the wave comes it takes away the imprint on the sand with its flow and with time our human mind forgets the conversations which we have during the journey, thus I thought of scribbling and keeping a note of a wonderful discussion that I had!!!