Widows: the prey of patriarchy in Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Water”
Widows have always been considered easy prey, since they are not under the active
protection of a particular man. This is especially true where Indian widows are concerned.
Indian society enforces its patriarchy in various ways, trying to disguise it as tradition; and
women bear the chief burnt of it. The onus of ‘upholding tradition’ mostly rested on womenit still does and nowhere is this more evident than in the sacred realm of Indian widowhood.
In India, widows are doubly marginalized- once because of their gender, and then
again because of their widowhood. Traditionally the Indian widow was supposed to be a
symbol of sacrifice, a goddess on a pedestal. She was the archetypal illustration of the theory
of the Pedestal and the Pit- if she refused to sacrifice her earthly desires, her normal instincts,
she was branded a fallen woman, an ogress, a whore. Although Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Water”, a
novelized script from Deepa Mehta’s film “Water”, is set against a historical backdrop, it is
not so far removed from the situation of Indian widows, even in this day and age. Indian
widows traditionally are the most marginalized or victimized figures in joint households. My
paper has the intention to show how in pre- independent India, the victimization of the
widows was a norm set by the patriarchal society, especially the privileged classes, through
the few characters in the novel “Water”.