Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tragedy... and Bravery

One of the regular readers/commentors on this blog, Rekha Haricharan(rekhs is the name she goes by in the comments), went through a great personal tragedy recently when her mother Viji Srinivasan passed away on June 13. Though I do not know either Rekha or her mother personally, the articles I've been reading on Viji Srinivasan's demise make it clear that this was a great woman who had dedicated her life to the betterment of the lives of those less privileged than her. May her soul rest in peace.

But I wish to highlight here the act by Rekha that highlights both society's neanderthal attitude when it comes to the equality of women and her courage in standing upto that attitude. A lifelong advocate of gender equality, Viji extracted a promise from her daughter that she would conduct her last rites upon her death. But Rekhs faced great obstacles in her wish to honor the promise she made to her mom. More than 25 priests refused to assist her in her act since only sons are supposed to perform the last rites and she was even threatened with excommunication from her own Brahmin community. Unfazed by all that and with moral support from her dad, her husband and her in-laws, she found a more liberal priest who helped her conduct the last rites and keep her promise to her mom.

My condolences to Rekha and her family in this time of great personal tragedy. At the same time, I greatly admire her resolution in keeping her word to her mom and fighting, in her own way, the bias against women that still rears its ugly head periodically. Twisting Neil Armstrong's words just a little, I feel that it was a small step for her but a giant leap for womankind. Her mom would've been proud.

Do let Rekha know what you feel through your comments... As I mentioned, she does read all comments. And anybody who wishes to convey their feelings more personally can email me at bbalaji [at] sbcglobal [dot] net and I will forward the same to Rekha.

28 Comments:

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Munimma said...

I didn't realize these 2 Rekhas were one and the same. My condolences to her. I read about them yesterday, don't remember where. Great lady indeed. Not many of us can translate thoughts to actions! Must have been hard on them especially since it happened away from home.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger ioiio said...

May god give her all the strength to let this personal loss pass..

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger bhuvan said...

Well, I would like to express my condolences to Rekha as well, even though this is the first time I heard of her and her mother. It's always devastating to lose such a close family member and I couldn't imagine how I would feel or even think in the same situation.

Having said that, the issue of gender inequality in Indian culture (and even beyond the country's borders in foreign Tamil communities as I have witnessed - dunno about America, but in Germany people are usually MORE strict than people are back home) won't fade away, unless we face up to the fact that it's not always wise to stick to traditions, since these are very much colored by past time's misogyny and fear of women.

I do have hope, though, given the forming of a "global village," thanks mainly to the internet, people's minds will change for the better. So far most of us lived and are still living in a patriarchal order. But we can live without the restrictive underpinnings of it. Generally, western society is much more advanced and liberated in this area, even though one could lament the downslide in morals and taste.

It's a difficult subject, for sure. So my respects to Viji for having the courage to face up to society's senseless injustice.

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger Narayanan Venkitu said...

I read about this honorable lady today..somewhere. Felt sad about the priest who refused. What kind of people are thes a-----s.!

God bless her soul.! And God give the family the courage to pass thru this difficult phase in life.!

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Ram.C said...

I read this in teakada. Heartful condolences to rekhs.

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

Very sorry to hear about this. My heartfelt condolences to Rekha and her family.

 
At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Prabhu said...

Rekha,

My deepest condolensces. I cant say more than what balaji has said. What you have done is a new beginning. Hats off to you and people who supported you in this hour!

 
At 5:21 AM, Blogger Nithya Swaminathan said...

My condolences to Rekha and her family. Hope they get over this tragedy in time. Take care.

 
At 6:07 AM, Blogger kaleidoscope said...

I read about this elsewhere, very brave of Rekha.
My heart felt condolences to Rekha and her family.

 
At 7:31 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Rekhaji

I offer my heart felt condolences.
Hindu society needs more of such brave souls.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger VC said...

My condolences to Rekha and her family and hats off too!

 
At 10:34 AM, Anonymous rekhs said...

hey guys...what i did was a very small drop compared to what my mom was doing..a mid wife is paid a mere Rs 20 to bury a girl baby alive in bihar,new born baby,just cos she is a girl!!amma and appa have been visiting every village there and saying "i will give u 100 rupees dont kill the baby bring her to adithi"( their NGO) and have been t/c of the babies and giving them for adoption..
She has raised the economic level of ONE LAKH TWENTYFIVE THOUSAND FAMILIES... and inspired ppl in mexico argentina brazil chile china serbia australia portugal london besides india..to follow her footsteps..
this was the LEAST I CLD DO to let her soul rest in peace..
Even if five daughters do, what i did on 13th june, and all the subsequent ceremonies i will b overwhelmed and happy..
thanks a ton for ur prayers and msgs,
tho i wld have pref being just
"rekhs" who writes here..
it rejuvenates me despite my heavy heart and sadness that seems to be my eternal shadow.. my dad is unconsolable and i am still dazed, feel she is visiting a funding agency in leeds and will be home soon:(
time they say is the best healer..
isnt it sad then we fight abt so many petty stuff or crib abt so many non-essentialities in our daily lives!!!and lash out to the ones dearest to us...
if u love some1 be it spouse,
parent, sibling ,child ,dont hesitate to say so.. give a hug rt away... it speaks volumes!!!and goes a long long way...
:)
my mom and i shared such a special wonderful bond i have lost one of my oldest best friends
...and during the worst week in my life in bhopal where she was admitted and her health was failing
i kept telling myself mayb god needs her by his/her side to strengthen his/her camp!!!
amma wld object if i ever ref to god in masculine gender alone:)
that thought of mine gave me the courage besides the many prayers/calls/smses i got fm all over the world...
thanks balaji...i appreciate u wanting to spread this msg abt my amma.

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger packer said...

May her mother's soul rest in peace with this great endeavour from her daughter.India is developing fast and it's only a
matter of fact of time when we will
hear all the atrocities against women as history and we will be with you in your thirst for freedom and efforts.

 
At 3:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My condolences to the family

 
At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my thoughts r with u , rekha .... all said & done , grief is a v private thing and it is a cross u bear alone ...... but try to take solace in the fact that she lived a worthy life and u had her by ur side , and always will, in spirit.

my sincerest condolences to both u & ur father , & my prayers that ur mum rest in peace ......

 
At 5:32 AM, Anonymous ruchi said...

my thoughts r with u , rekha .... all said & done , grief is a v private thing and it is a cross u bear alone ...... but try to take solace in the fact that she lived a worthy life and u had her by ur side , and always will, in spirit.

my sincerest condolences to both u & ur father , & my prayers that ur mum rest in peace ......

 
At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Guevara G said...

My Concolences to you & yr father and others in the Family.
You are privilegded indeed to have a mom like Mrs.Viji.
She will remain a great inspiration to one and all

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Potpourri said...

My condolences to Rekha. Hats off to you for performing the last rites for your mom inspite of the probelms faced.

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Rajesh said...

rekhs,

Hearfelt condolences for the demise
of your beloved amma.

nice to hear about your amma's social concern. The best way to pay tribute to your amma is to continue her social work.

 
At 4:34 PM, Blogger Chandor said...

Looking for the sweetest hindu baby girl name? Then click here hindu baby girl name

 
At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nice of you friends. You have imparted grace to that gracious wise active young sister of mine.

Fame is the food for the dead. My akka viji will neither die nor be starved of a humane tributes.

The first Anniversary is nearing.

I had the priviledge of being very close to her in her life and works since 2003 .
Although i am a born bihari ~ it was Viji who inspired me to see Bihar and greatly helped me strike my roots.

After viji , no social worker /Entrepreneur is interesting.
Viji you are Great

Sanjaya
sanjaya10g@yahoo.com

 
At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Deepa MAdhavan said...

Dear Rekha,
My heart felt condolences to you and your father.I have been trying to get in touch with you since last year !!!! I had called up Adithi at Patna emailed but there was no response.I had the privilege to travel with your mother in nov- Dec 2004 to Jharmundi and near by places for my dissertation. She went on to later help my cousin to adopt a baby girl.
I had promised to get back to PAtna andowrk on a craft development project and teach the women to bake pizzas in August 2005 during my holidays.It was never meant to be.I am unable to expresses the loss , I felt that I had just found the person of my dreams whom I could emulate ... I shall always pray for her.. she is special.Time heals they say.... but I dont know ... how is the void filled?
Wish I could meet you in person too.
My best wishes and prayers to you all
Deepa MAdhavan

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Cat said...

best

 
At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Cruise said...

best

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Lindsay Lohan said...

best

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Lingeries said...

best

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! 1300 psi pressure washer Roxy bella tote Ge appliances sears auburn football picture phendimetrazine 180 count 35mg Clomid change pregnancy hot flashes

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work video editing schools

 

Post a Comment

<< Home