About three hundred widows were sitting in scattered rows on a tarp. A sharp Telugu pitch began to whine through the crackling amplifier. With heads bowed and eyes closed, the women were asked to raise their hands if…
“You lost your husband to alcohol consumption?”
“Your husband was murdered?”
“You lost your husband to suicide?”
Widows in rural India are one of the most abused and neglected demographics in the world. They are considered a curse, stripped of their social utility at the moment of their husband’s passing. Historically, they were often tied to their husband’s corpse and burned alive at his cremation. We were there conducting a questionnaire, documenting a sorrow too deep for words.
“You were rejected both by your parents and your husband’s family?”
“You are unable to feed your children?”
It seemed like their hands were raised reaching towards Heaven for a reply. As if we had gathered there to lodge a formal complaint against our Maker, or perhaps to render a verdict against the God who doesn’t answer.