and the plight of a mother

Radha's mother came to the project this morning. She looked the epitome of despair. Even the most hardened soul could not have remained dry eyed. She clutched her last born, an eight month old baby that looked barely three. In spite of the chilly morning neither she nor her tiny son had a warm cloth to protect them. She had no time to sit in mourning though it was just yesterday that her husband's mortal remains had been consigned to the fire. She had come to ask help to enable her to go to her village and perform the elaborate and ruinous rituals that would ensure that she would not be spurned by her clan.

Yes Radha's young mom did not have the luxury to sit in a corner and weep her incredible and irreparable loss. Her pain was etched on her gentle face and the tears kept rolling as she recounted her tale. A husband consumed by TB and alcohol, four children to bring up one being little Radha and her brittle bones and nothing but a small cart that doled out cups of teas and some food to help her not only survive but live.

In spite of her abject misery I could sense a quiet determination, a yet hazy but eminently doable life plan, one that perhaps could see her and her children through. This simple and illiterate woman had somehow come of age. Motherhood was at stake and she was determined not to give up. True she had come seeking help but somehow there was a dignity in her demeanour, a courage that needed to be saluted particularly as she was a woman nothing had prepared for the life she would now have to live.

We cannot even begin to imagine the magnitude of Radha's mom's despair as it is beyond imagination. She never had much but till yesterday she had the misplaced and yet indispensable security that a husband, no matter how worthless, provides a woman in India. Today she had been deprived of even that. She would have to battle every foe alone.

We will do whatever we can to see that she picks up the pieces of her shattered life and weaves a new one, one that can sustain her little family and bring back smiles to the faces of her young children. And yet we know that young Mira, her elder daughter barely 10 will soon become the little mother as Radha's mom takes on the role of the head of the family.