Tiny Conversations – no colors for a widow

When I was widowed, we lived in a very conservative and restrictive society in a rather backward province at the time. So things were pretty bad for me with my sort of disregard for their stifling conventions that made no sense to me.

It was a society that took away the colors from a widow’s life, literally and figuratively too. Any kind of fun and enjoyment was banned for her. Dressing up was absolutely forbidden – no jewelry either. As if that weren’t enough, society had decreed that these unfortunate women could only wear certain colors – specifically, a dull, dark maroon and a dull greenish-blue. This identified them as widows. It horrified me that such rules were imposed on them. Imagine wearing clothes that put a tag on you WIDOW for everyone’s information! As if they hadn’t suffered enough. And for what purpose? It wasn’t their fault that fate had dealt them such a blow!

I recall a social acquaintance of mine, one who is a non-practicing, lawyer, telling me why the women of their society “willingly” accepted these social norms. She tried to explain it to me by quoting her widowed mother:

“My mother accepted it because she believed, ‘Once a husband dies, there is no color left in life. Life becomes totally colorless.‘ This is why it is okay for them to wear these colors and not wear jewelry nor participate in festivals and entertainment of any kind.”

“Oh, really?” I interrupted her with undisguised sarcasm. “What about the men, the widowers?”

“What about them,” she countered. “They are men. These things don’t apply to them They can carry on their lives.”

“Exactly my point – Why doesn’t it apply to them? Why does everyone start looking out for a wife for the widower, but push the widow into deeper misery? Why do they strip her of her dignity and self-respect? Why do they want to kill her spirit? Why make them like living corpses that way?”

“That’s how it’s been for years and that’s how it will remain. Who can stop it? At least it is better than Sati.”

“If the practice of Sati (burning the wife alive on the funeral pyre of the husband) can be stopped and declared a crime, this can be too. All it takes is the decision to fight against it. All it needs is one strong person to stand against it.”

“That’s what you think. We women don’t think so.”

“How many young widows have you asked about how they feel and what they think about this, with the assurance of confidentiality and secrecy?”

“I don’t need to ask anyone,” she was riled and het up. “This is our ‘rivaaz’. Our culture. And our society will follow it.”

“And are women in this ‘rivaaz’ consulted? Are they even represented when rules are made and imposed on them by ‘society’?

“It is a male dominated society. The women will never be consulted.”

“Not for long. Take my word. Change is coming. The winds are changing direction. But I’m keen to know, will you accept and support the change when it comes? You yourself have broken the boundaries of your social culture, you went against all that your society deemed wrong. Didn’t you? You are living your life on your terms. Will you be brow beaten if, god forbid, diktats such as these are imposed on you?”

She preferred to let silence speak for her. And the silence spoke louder than her words.

Money Bags Year 2020

I had met a girl, a long time back, in India. It was the year 2011. She had this ‘spiritual’ group. She said it was about Reiki. I had no idea that Reiki involved prayer groups. They had prayer circles all over the country, according to her, and her group in G’gaon, connected with one in Mumbai.

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These prayer warriors would be online and you could request them to say prayers for you or anyone or any situation you wanted prayers for. I had no idea who they worshipped. According to them, it was all Reiki! And I was left with that vague explanation.

What I learned, after asking around, Reiki wasn’t this. I attended a few of her group meetings but stopped when I found it didn’t mean anything; there was nothing to learn. No knowledge being imparted either. If all one had to do was sit in a circle on the carpet, offload something bothering you by speaking out, write whatever problem or anxiety you were burdened with, and crumple the paper and throw it in the bin placed in the center, and finally hold hands and meditate, I was fine with meditating and praying on my own! I dropped out of the group.

But, I kept up the social connection with her. We didn’t meet often except for visits on festival days. I don’t communicate with her anymore.

Here’s one email she’d sent me in 2011.

The year 2011 – is called as Money bags Year

In the Year 2011 July has

….5 Fridays,
….5 Saturdays
….5 Sundays.
And this happens once every 823 years.

This is called money bags.

This year we’re going to experience four unusual dates.

1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11

And that’s not all…

AMAZING ACTIVITY

Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born –
Now add it to the age you will be/are this year…….

The results will be 111 for everyone in the whole world.

This is the year of the Money!!!

Do you see any connection with money? And this was supposed to be sent to 8 people or face bad luck!

I didn’t realize, I had written about this Money Bags Year thingy in my journal! I happened to find it as I was rifling through some of my old notes, journals, and notebooks. I found it so silly that people would actually believe such things! Well, it certainly wasn’t a Money bags year for me that year, or any other year, for that matter! But I guess I can’t complain because I didn’t send it on to anyone else. I’m not an idiot!

So I said different things to different people in the group to see how they’d respond.

To those I said I never sent it to eight people, they would pull down the corners of their mouth, shrug their shoulders and say…

“Well, you should have! How can you say it’s BS if you didn’t send it?”

To those, I said I did, there would be a blank stare and another rejoinder with a shrug…

“I don’t know. Maybe you didn’t believe it!

How convenient 🙂

Anyway, since this was the first time I had got anything like this in the mail, it was a funny thing. And by the way, not even one of those who believed in this had any specific reason to support their belief. It’s funny how someone can believe that a year with a particular number of Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays could become a magnet for money.

The explanation is so much nonsense. And the group that was sharing it, and telling me to believe it, consisted of educated folk working in good positions in big companies. How could they be so silly! 

It’s so easy to verify these things, and yet, there are people blindly believing anything and everything without trying to verify it. 

As for me, I was having an out-of-money experience! That was the only (dis)connection I found to money… I had more pictures in the pockets of my wallet where the money used to be. And trust me, I found it easy to meet expenses, I found them everywhere I went.

Methinks, if they received this message with some mumbo jumbo, they’d have believed it too and sent it to 8 people!: “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.”

I heard that even now there’s a similar one doing the rounds for May 2020! I’ve attached an excerpt from the article and you can read more about it. The link is below.

The 823 Years Myth

If you have an email or a social media account, chances are that you have come across a viral post that claims an upcoming month has a rare combination of weekdays. Share it, the message states, or beware of some bad luck.

A recent version goes something like this:

May 2020 will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. This happens only once every 823 years. The Chinese call it “silver pockets full” or “money bags.”

The email is partially right. May 2020 does have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, and so does May 2848. But this is neither special nor unusual. You won’t need to wait for another 823 years to see this weekday combination to occur in the month of May. Just 6 more years, because in 2026, May also has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.

A calendar month that contains 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays actually occurs nearly every year— October 2021, July 2022, and December 2023 all have the same weekday pattern. https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/823-years.html

And that’s a wrap for the day!