The story is about a girl named Laxmi, who lived in a small village in Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. She was born in a very rich family but soon after her birth, she lost her parents. She was raised by her maternal uncle.
It was the time when India was struggling for Independence. Educating a girl child was an unnecessary expenditure and child marriage was a common practice.
Laxmi wanted to study but since she was a girl without parents, she was married at a very young age and was not allowed to complete her studies. At an age when she was supposed to go to school and enjoy her childhood, her shoulders were burdened with the responsibility of being a wife and home maker. With a heavy heart she accepted her fate and fulfilled all her responsibilities towards her husband. But she was determined that she will not let her kids go through the same fate. Her husband Venkat was a supportive man. He was a teacher by profession and a highly respected figure in the society. Together Venkat and Laxmi worked hard for this cause.
Twenty years had passed. India had gained independence. Laxmi and Venkat had two daughters and one son. Everything was working out according to her expectations. Her eldest daughter had completed her schooling and married in a good family. Her second daughter was eleven years old in fifth class. Her son was just four years old and had just begun schooling. She was leading a happy life; little did she know that the fate had something else planned for her.
Gradually, Venkat’s health started degrading, so much so that, he had to give up his teaching profession and travel to different cities for treatment. The savings were all consumed and they had to sell their house and cows for sustenance .Laxmi had started working as household maid as the family’s responsibility had fallen on her shoulders.
One afternoon, while she was washing clothes, she received a telegram. She asked her daughter to read it out for her. It was from the hospital where Venkat was admitted for his treatment. It was sent to inform her that her husband was in his last stage and was asked to pay a visit to the hospital.
Laxmi, along with her kids rushed to the hospital only to see her husband already dead. She was shocked and distressed. With a heavy heart, she completed the final rites. When she returned back, the attitude of the villagers had changed towards her. Many people had started maintaining a distance from her and her kids. The load of debt and her pain was motivating her to sacrifice herself under Sati pratha. She closed her eyes, and remembered the happy moments of the family.
On opening her eyes she saw her daughter doing the domestic chores instead of studying. In that moment she realised that she was the only hope for her children and swore that she will never let them go through the pain that she did.
She got up, took the broom from her hand and completed all the work. Those were the days when society used to be very harsh towards widows. She was stopped from working in many houses. But this did not stop her. She kept working hard and saved any penny that could be saved so that her kids could study. She started skipping meals and walking extra miles to save money. The women who were once a princess begged for more work. Feeling pity for her and her kids some people used to offer food and people started letting her work as maid. Laxmi’s maternal uncle offered some financial help.
This phase of her life continued until her son completed his schooling and started earning. All her children helped their mother in every way possible. They worked hard to pay off all her debts and earned back her lost respect in the society.
Laxmi did not just stand against her personal problem but also against all evils in the society which was a very brave thing to do considering the situation of India back then. In an era of child marriage and sati pratha, she set an example of women empowerment.
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