Woman in Uniform
“AYEEEEEEE NILLOOO” ! a woman’s shrill voice interrupted my peaceful morning walk inside the park. I turned around to see a man fleeing from a woman!
I stopped to watch as the woman in a police uniform caught up with the man and pushed him to the ground. Locking his hands behind his back, she gave a him a whack with her cane and hurled the choicest expletives at him for bullying a girl! The man whining, as morning walkers from kids to nice old grannies and excited gossipy women gathered around to curse the man. This gutsy woman in uniform gave the man a final stern warning and let him go. He ran for his life. “That should stop him from eve teasing for some time” she grinned.
Swiftly turning she faced the girl shedding tears in the corner with her friends, shook her by the shoulders and said- “You girls should know how to defend yourselves. The more scared you are the more brazen the rowdy elements become. “.. And you girls? Couldn’t support your friend?
As she made her way out of the park I ran towards her extended my hand and said “Hello! I am Sumati”. She smiled and replied “Parvati” (Name changed) . I told her I was impressed by her strength and she just waved away the adulation.
My curiosity aroused, I wanted to know more about this woman. So I almost ran besides her trying to keep pace with her swift strides, looking for opportunities to strike a conversation. We were walking past a small breakfast joint so I tried my luck.“Kaapi?” I asked. “Okay” she nodded. “ I would like some breakfast too… left home at 5 in the morning . Need strength to go back and cook for my son”, she said. Seizing the opportunity to find out more about this inspiring woman, I feigned starvation.
As we chatted, over a masala dosa, I was able to gather bits of information about her life, which she shared quite openly and honestly. I found out that she had a son, her husband had moved in with another woman 2 years after their marriage. She needed no nudging to tell me that once she came to know about the “other woman”, she picked up her bag and bid him goodbye and took their son with her. She moved in with her parents.
A few months later, her husband sent word that she could come and collect some money now and then for the child’s maintenance, if she wanted to, or reconcile to living with his mistress. She stood firm and refused to go home. Her parents and brother advised she accept the money at least, which also she resisted. A few weeks later, came the veiled threats from her parents and brothers wife that a woman who had abandoned her husband, despite his generous offer to “keep her” could not stay with them under the same roof because they were a “respectable family”- “What would society say…about them and the child ?” She knew the taunts would get only worse every day and she had to find a way to fend for herself. That was when she heard about the “Skill Centre” which was run by an NGO “Supported by money for training/ empowering women from big companies”
The Centre sharpened her skills. She was always physically strong, also had a basic education, which is why the lady at the Skill Centre asked her to apply for the job of a Police Constable when it came up. She did, though with a little trepidation. One day she received the interview call and was hired. “The best decision of my life” she said, sipping her coffee.
On special recommendation from a woman SI she got small quarters, moved out of her parents’ home and put her son in an angawadi since her parents refused to take care of him. A year of hard work and dedication she was recognized and respected at the police station she worked at. No one from her family came to see her or enquired how she was doing. One fine day, after a year her husband came home with gifts for his son and apologized and called her back. But she told him to take a hike!
“It is because of this uniform that he wanted me back. Dint want to be on the wrong side of the police . And a woman who has a steady source of income from a Government job doesn’t hurt” she laughed. Thumping me on the back, her laughter getting louder, she said “That woman also dumped him she was scared of my new profession! If it were not for the Skill Centre my life would not be so stable she said.
A little lost in her thoughts, Parvati was silent as we drank our coffee. The looking at me said that even her parents and brother became more affectionate, all within a year. Looking at my surprised expression she explained “It’s the power of the uniform. I believe in my uniform. It guards society and me”- she declared. “Relatives ask for help once in a while, I do what I can. My parents are happy with that. Their society accepts me now” she said stressing on the word society!
“But where was this society when my husband abandoned me. Why dint they tell him HE as wrong?” she asked. Yes where was it? I asked myself, as I bid this gutsy woman goodbye.
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