Just when we think India has some of the most oppressive attitudes towards women, comes an eye-opener.
A sixty-year-old woman at Chandipur village in Dubrajpur district fought a two-year-long battle against society’s self-anointed moral police by marrying off her daughter-in-law after her son died in a mishap.
So when hundreds of people witnessed 21-year-old Ila tie the knot once again at Pahareswar temple on Thursday, Tara Pal knew she had won the battle.
Ila was only 19 and two months into her marriage when her husband Nikhil died after lightning struck him. Tara knew Ila was too young to stay a widow all her life but she also knew society could be brutal to a widow.
The indomitable 60-year-old not only became the sole source of sustenance for the young girl, she also took a silent vow to find a suitable match for her daughter-in-law.
"It was August 19, 2004. I cannot forget the day when I lost my son. My husband had died years ago and Nikhil was my only support. But when my daughter-in-law tried to commit suicide, I realised that my pain was nothing compared to hers. That day, I made a promise to myself: I will find a groom for her, come what may," Tara told the Hindustan Times.
Age and experience had taken their toll on Tara. She knew well that she had not only undertaken a difficult task but something that could well be considered impossible, given the society she lived in.
"The first challenge was to convince my daughter-in-law. Ila was not ready to marry again. I tried to explain to her that things would change once I passed away. I told her she was young and there were men who lust for her. After much persuasion, Ila gave her consent," said Tara.
Though the self-styled social reformer managed to win Ila's confidence, her task was far from easy. While on one hand it was difficult to find a suitable match for a widow, on the other a spiteful society put up barriers every time Tara managed to find a groom for Ila.
Finally, Tara found Goutam Laha, a distant relative of hers. “His family members liked Ila and had no objection to the marriage. I am glad I finally found a match for my daughter-in-law," said Tara, tears rolling down her cheeks.