They might have come here to inaugurate three popular Durga Pujas in the city.
But look beyond their laughter and you will see a lifetime of grief etched on their faces.
Come October 14, and the 50 widows from the state would return to Vrindavan, back to their lonely
Family members of only two or three widows out of the group of 50 went to the airport to greet them on Sunday, despite the organisers of the trip informing their families of the visit.
Thrown out of their homes and forced to beg on the streets of Vrindavan for years, many of these widows had hoped their children and relatives would visit them at least once on their arrival.
Pained at the rejection, they no longer wish to stay back in the state.
“I have come to Bengal after 20 years. I was hoping that my family had missed me and would at least turn up at the airport to meet me. But no one came. It seems they are relieved I am not among them,” sobbed 75-year-old Kamala Das whose brother stays at Mogra in Hooghly.
Das was married off at the age of seven and lost her husband when she was 10.
Though she stayed with her parents for a few years, her brother drove her out after her parents died.
For her, other widows who have suffered a similar fate are true family.
But the initiative taken by Sulabh International Social Service Organisation to bring them to Kolkata and inaugurate the Durga Pujas at Singhi Park, Hindustan Park and Pally Mangal Samiti at Jodhpur Park has undoubtedly brought joy to the widows.
“My son arrived at the airport and wanted to take me back but I refused. I don’t want to go back to that hell. I am happy at Vrindavan. I pray to god that no mother suffers what I have suffered,” said a wheelchair-bound Lalita Adhikary (104), her voice trembling.
Other widows had similar tales to tell.
“I was married at 13 and lost my husband at 25. I sold muri ( puffed rice), worked as a domestic help and in the fields and even travelled to Kolkata regularly to sell rice to bring up my four children. I sold off whatever little land I had to marry off my daughters. And then, my sons repay me by driving me out of the house,” said Geeta Mondal of Sunur village in Burdwan.
But Monday was a totally different experience for these widows.
They visited a five-star hotel for the first time where they met members of the press.
They were stunned by the spick and span environs, the conduct of the hotel staff and food provided to them.
Many did not even know that some of the sweets or preparations of paneer served to them existed.
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