Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. There is absolutely no denying the fact that what has made our nation unique and stand out among the other countries, is TRADITION. It is more or less part of every Indians life, as we are brought up taught values and beliefs which find their roots in tradition. In sharp contrast to the Western world, where it the individual who governs his own life, in the Indian culture, we can see the influence of family, society and of course, tradition playing an important role in deciding certain individuals’ lives, even today.
There are many close references in a few stories which have been given in the prescribed textbook for the subject. In the story “Lajwanti”, there is an interesting conflict between tradition and the perception of tradition. Sunder Lal defies ‘tradition’, accepts his wife Lajo, who was in ‘exile’ in Pakistan, and treats her as a Goddess, whereas other women have suffered at the hands of the husbands upon their return from such an ‘exile’.
In “Umpiring”, we read about a peculiar tradition between two villages in Bengal, where they held an annual cricket match which was like a battle. There we see a slightly modern influence on the tradition they followed, yet it was a tradition and it was continued.
In the poem, “The Girl in the Kitchen”, we can observe the negative influence which tradition can have on people’s lives, specifically speaking about the life of the girl, as portrayed in the poem. It was a tradition in her culture, her ‘caste’, to work as a maid, because it was what her mother did, and it was what she was supposed to do. Unfair and cruel as it sounds, it is a tradition which is still widely followed, at least in rural areas, and to a certain extent, in cities as well.
Fiction or non-fictional, these stories are a few typical examples of lives of some people who are subject to the atrocities and unreasonable demands tradition requires them to fulfill. And of course, they feel like rebelling and in their own way, at least in their minds, they do. Literature has provided down-trodden people in society a good, visible platform and a powerful tool …… –words-. You can feel sorry for them, you can pity them, but there’s no escaping or denying the fact that somewhere inside, you are struck by these stories, about these harsh realities. The worst part is in the idealistic society our people strive to maintain, defying or even talking against tradition is taboo. They are unquestionable truths. We are unperturbed by these stories, we needn’t worry because our lives will never be like theirs. There is not much we can do either. But as a duty bound citizen, if we personally come across any such incident, we can try to do our best to prevent it.
- ARJUN SUBHASH