A tale of betrayal and forgiveness
When men and women eat differently
A wife pardons her husband’s killer. Ramesh Kandula narrates the story of Prabhavati from Sri Kalahasti, near Tirupati
This is a poignant tale of two women who got bound by fate in an emotional drama. Sounds like the theme of the acclaimed film Dor? But, this is real life.
The wife of a worker, killed by his compatriot in Kuwait, chose to take pity on the killer’s wife and children, and despite her own distress, magnanimously gave her pardon to save the convicted man from the jaws of imminent death.
The story goes thus: Palavalli Sekhar (38) and Shaik Mahboob Basha (39), both from the temple town of Sri Kalahasti, 30 km north of the famous pilgrim centre Tirupati, were bosom friends. Illiterates both, they made a living by rolling beedis, the only industry worth the name in this region, if living off the pilgrims to the famous temples is not considered.
They would make a paltry sum of Rs 30 a day by rolling one thousand beedis, which was not sufficient to feed their families. Both had three children each.
Sekhar was the first to venture to Kuwait for a better livelihood. He got a job for tending sheep, for which he would receive Rs 5,000 a month. Four years after his stint, he successfully helped his friend Mahboob Basha realise his dream of a Kuwaiti job.
Basha sold his modest accommodation to raise Rs 50,000 for visa and other expenses and made it to Kuwait in October 2005. He was working along with his friend and was able to send Rs 9,000 to his family back here after the first three months.
But the good times did not last long. The news that Basha killed Sekhar in a fit of anger shattered both the families. Basha was arrested, tried and awarded death sentence by the Kuwaiti court. The accused is at present lodged in the Central Jail of Kuwait, awaiting his fate.
Back home, Sekhar’s wife Prabhavati was crushed by the sudden death of her husband. "I pleaded with him not to go the third time, before he left in April 2005. He was a good husband and father, and wanted to ensure a good future for the children," says the frail-looking but strong-willed Prabhavati.
She was rolling beedies sitting in the shade of a tree in front of her ramshackle hut on the outskirts of the town, when this correspondent met her. Her daughter Sobharani (15), younger sons Jitendra and Surendra had gone to school to find out whether they were still on rolls.
She does not understand, nor did anybody bother to explain to her in what circumstances her husband had been killed. "I understand the incident happened on March 6, 2006. He was cremated there as we could not afford to bring his body back," she says as eyes well with tears.
Basha’s wife Mumtaz Begum, along with her three children, lives with her mother-in-law Jan Bi in a crude shack at the other end of the town. The diminutive woman was in the dark for the last eight months about her husband’s fate, till some local officials came in search of her early this month.
This was following a message from the State Home Department in Hyderabad. The Indian Embassy in Kuwait wrote to the Andhra Pradesh Government with regard to this incident, and wanted them to look into the possibility of getting the victim’s wife to consent for a pardon to Basha.
The letter stated that the Kuwaiti law provides that if the family of the victim pardons the accused, the court may take a lenient view and may award a lesser sentence. "As both the accused and the victim belong to the state of Andhra Pradesh, you are requested to look into the possibility of obtaining a ‘pardon’ from the family of the victim as such a pardon may save the life of the accused who is otherwise facing the prospect of being hanged," the letter said.
Local revenue officials,
who say that Sekhar apparently died after Basha hit him with a rod after
arguments over money matters, met both the families and explained the
situation. Mumtaz Begum, along with family, friends and some community
leaders, pleaded with Prabhavati to save her husband’s life.
"Yes, I could not bring myself to pardon a person who had killed my husband without pity. I said he should at least have taken him to hospital after hitting my husband with the rod. I said he deserved to die," Prabhavati recalled.
The gentle nudging by the local officials and Mumtaz’s pleadings for forgiveness bore fruit on the second day.
"My daughter changed my mind. She said her father was gone now, so why should we deprive their children of theirs. It brought tears to me, and I budged," Prabhavati said.
She did not accept a single rupee when she put her signature on November 19 on the paper the local Revenue Divisional Officer brought to her, giving her consent for pardon.
"The District Collector told us that we should provide a loan of Rs 50,000 to Prabhavati to start a small business to support her family, and also construct a pucca house in place of the hutment in which she is presently living," Kalahasti Mandal Revenue Officer A. Dharani Pati said.
Shaik Mahboob Basha, who was scheduled to be hanged on November 25, is still alive in his Kuwaiti jail, thanks to the kindness of Prabhavati.
In a new study of observed eating behaviour in a social setting, young men and women who perceived their bodies as being less than "ideal" ate differing amounts of food after they were shown images of "ideal-bodied" people of their own gender.
Lead researcher Kristen Harrison found that in the presence of same-gender peers, certain women eat less and certain men eat more following exposure to ideal-body images. ‘Certain’ in this case referred to women and men who have discrepancies between their actual body and the kind of body they think their peers idealise, Harrison said.
"In a nutshell," Harrison said, "we found that, following exposure to ideal-body images, men who are insecure about their bodies eat more in front of other men, while women who are insecure about their bodies eat less in front of other women." Harrison is a professor of speech communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The co-authors of the study are Laramie D. Taylor, a professor of communication at the University of California, and Amy Lee Marske, a teacher at Libertyville High School in Libertyville.
The study findings appear in the December issue of Communication Research in an article titled, "Women’s and Men’s Eating Behavior Following Exposure to Ideal-Body Images and Text."
Harrison, who has focused her scholarly research on issues of nutrition and eating, randomly assigned the male and female subjects to be tested in same-gender groups of three to nine people.
The subjects participated in one of the four scenarios: Some were randomly chosen to view slides of images of fit men and women that had no accompanying text, some viewed slides that contained diet and exercise-related text, some viewed slides that contained irrelevant text, while the control groups did not view any slides.
The researchers found that exposure to ideal-body images with no text or paired with body-relevant text led women with body- related discrepancies to eat, on average, one less pretzel than other women, and men with body-related discrepancies to eat, on average, three more pretzels than other men.
How do these findings translate to everyday eating patterns, and what are the long-term consequences?" "It is difficult to overstate the importance of everyday, moment-to-moment decisions in shaping the quality of a life," Harrison said.
She said that abstinence from just a few pretzels a day — amounting to about 100 calories — can result in the loss of more than a pound of fat during the course of a year, and the addition of a few pretzels a day can do the opposite, which she conceded, doesn’t sound that significant.
However, if people are viewing "ideal-body media" regularly, their body-weight and health could be significantly affected, she said.
There is no disagreement on the statement that fashion finally depends on the comfort and attitude of an individual to dressing up. As such, it must be confessed that there is no hard and fast rule about your individual approach to fashion, except that it must suit the occasion.
But it is essential to realise what the current trend is, whether the cognoscenti prefers tight fits or whether loose and flowing dresses are in vogue and what the colour combination goes with accessories and add-ons. For example, now is the time to dispense with bright colours and opt for pastels. There is preference for silk thread embroidery in various motifs, in subdued colours like lemon, mauve and even white.
Another trend is the replacement of salwaars and churidaars with slim tight cotton trousers, in perfect western cuts and in lighter fabrics. The all-important dupatta is coming out in plain and simple colours, similar to kameezes and kurtas. You can even dispense dupattas for scarves or lace scrolls.
Coming to footwear, patent leather and closed shoes are out. Open high-heeled strap shoes or slip-ons with metallic matt or neutral shades are in. Silver with its muted brightness is the favourite this season.
Even in jewellery, silver seems to be more apt. If you can afford it, platinum will give the same effect as silver. But diamonds with their twinkles are out.
You can make fashion statement with your hair too. Loose and tousled hair is no longer acceptable. Many hairstylists seem to favour taking the hair back and fashioning it into a cone — what is known as ‘Narad knots’ after the manner the sage Narad Muni is portrayed. When it comes to colouring, the voting is for lustrous natural black or natural brown hair. Tiny flower garlands have made a comeback.
For men’s fashion also some definite trends are there. The emphasis is on a clean look with side burns (if any) staying short, hair in place and the eyebrows clearly ‘distinct’. When it comes to shirts, unlike pastel shades for women, the emphasis is now on bright colours in checks and prints. Two-tone fabrics also seem to be popular. Shades of purple, green and blue are in. You find the resurgence of Chinese collars in contrasting tones, with full-sleeved shirts and detailed buttons. It appears that these shirts are a sort of fusion between Indian kurtas and Chinese tunics and ensure a close fit, as the buttons are in front. Tight-fit kurtas without cuffs are also popular. But these must come down two inches below the knees. The trouser-wearing fraternity can opt for stretch drainpipes. The slim-fit trousers can also be mixed and matched with kurtas.
Last year’s trend of wearing slip-ons and sandals has given way to closed mojris, the blacker the better. For formal wear too, many seem to prefer side buckles in custom-made black pointed shoes. As for accessories, watches are losing their importance. And jewellery like bracelets (read kada) are back in the popularity graph. — MF