A Widows Gift | Hamro Patro

ब्लग - साहित्य / बाल साहित्य

A Book Review on ‘A Widow’s Gift’

   Jyotsana Tako - Feb 09 2024

About the Novel
The novel is a meaningful tale about a girl named Radha. Radha, here marrying at an early age, faces her husband's unexpected death. Thereafter, she has to negotiate the challenges of social customs, people’s expectations, and personal aspirations. Radha could not understand the dos and don’ts after being widowed and struggled with circumstances thereafter.

Plot Summary
This book introduces us to the main character, Radha, the book's protagonist. Radha was young at that time, and in that timeline, people used to do child marriage. Many girls were sent off into a marriage, and sadly Radha was one of them. Radha's grandmother told Radha everything about marriage, like how to behave in her in-laws' family. Radha was just a child, so marriage was just like a little fun game to her, like how she played with her  neighbourhood friends.Radha's friends told her how awful it was after getting married. One friend said that she married a 23-year-old man, and it didn't suit her to call him her husband, so she called him Buba instead.

Radha didn't care because she was too young to understand, and as time went by, she got married off to a boy whose name was Basu. He was 14, thankfully not too old like her friend's husband. Soon, she went to her in-laws, but she didn't like it there because she had to work and respect everyone there daily. Her in-laws were lovely. They understood that Radha was too young, so they gave her easy jobs to do but not much pleasure. Radha hated it over there. She hated every bit of it. She hated waking up early, only to be able to eat after all her family ate, and she hated doing all the chores.

The person who cared for her was her grandfather-in- law who played pieces of music for her to listen to, and that made Radha feel a bit comfortable. Whenever she went to her home once again, she never wanted to go back to her in-laws. Once, her husband Basu got sick and unfortunately, he could not live longer. His last wish was to go to Pashupatinath to get peace by worshipping the god. After her husband died, things were never the same. She had to go around wearing a widow's dress, which was white. Everyone knew her for being a widow. Radha, unfortunately still too young to understand, didn't know what was going on, so she continued to go around doing childish things. She was smiling, not knowing what she was about to face. Her parents cried bitterly when they saw Radha in a widow's dress. Sadly, her mother couldn't hold back the tear drops, knowing that she shouldn't frighten Radha about what was happening. When Radha saw her mother's tears, she got worried and asked her mother why she was crying. Her mother said nothing and tucked her up to bed.

One day, when Radha was with her grandmother, the ground started shaking. Radha and her brother managed to get outside before the whole house collapsed. There were people near Radha and her brother who took them both to where people had set tents to live as many houses got destroyed. Poor Radha and her brother still thought that their parents were alive, but sadly, their whole family had passed away in the earthquake. Four years later, Radha got her place to live and gave rent to the people who lived below her floor. There lived two girls and their father, whose names were Sita and Gita, and the father's name was Shiva. Radha adored Gita and Sita. They were twins. Later in the story, when Gita and Sita started attending school, Radha had to tell them to go live somewhere else for a while because her aunt and uncle were coming. Her aunt was strict and cruel, but still, Radha was excited about their arrival. When they arrived, Bani, her aunt, complained that she even pulled Radha's hair and tried to fight with her, but Radha was saved.

Banu, her uncle, tried to explain to her wife how excited Radha was about their arrival, but Bani couldn't care less she wanted to go somewhere else. She just hated Radha. The following day, Radha had a stomach ache that she puked so much she fainted in the washroom. Banu saw her condition and wanted to help her, but seeing Radha as a widow, he remembered that he could not touch widows, so he tried calling his wife Bani for help, but instead, Bani said ‘I Bet that Shiva got her pregnant.’ Seeing his wife's behaviour, Banu was disgusted and called other women in the neighbourhood to help Radha.

They took Radha to the hospital, where Aakash and Jyoti were introduced. They were supporting Radha, unlike the other relatives. There was one relative who came to the hospital for Radha's signature of giving her property to them because Radha was diagnosed with uterus cancer and could not live long. Aakash and Jyoti didn't want Radha's property at all. They just wanted Radha to live, but sadly, that was hard to be possible. Radha wanted to see Sita and Gita. The doctors said they had never seen a patient with cancer smile this much. Although Radha was suffering some really bad pain from the inside, she continued to smile in front of everyone so that they would not worry about her. Later on, her cruel relatives fail to get Radha's signature on her property, but Radha dies with a smile on her face.

Characters Analysis
If I had to choose a favourite character in this book, I think it would be Jyoti. In this book, the characters were not defined properly. Most of the chapters were only about Radha, about how kind, sweet, loving, and caring Radha is. It didn't go deep into other characters. So I didn't get to know the characters well. Jyoti is only introduced at the ending chapters of the book. I like Jyoti because she was there for Radha until the end. She always helped Radha and cared for her. Radha had really mean and horrible relatives, but Jyoti and her husband, Aakash were there for Radha, unlike other relatives, who didn't care for her at all just because she was a widow.

I do recommend this book. Although the characters were not well-defined, the book is really touching in its development of events. It teaches us what it is like in the olden days and how widows were treated. We also know a lot about the practice of child marriage, and how hard it would be for young woman when they got married. Overall, this book leaves a mark on your heart.

Name: Jyotsana Tako
Grade VII (Pumari)
Deerwalk Sifal School

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