Title: The weed
Author: Amrita Pritam
Genre: Short Story
Author: Amrita Pritam, a poet, essayist, and novelist, is one of the most prominent women writers in Indian literature. The poem Ode to Waris Shah and the novel Pinjar are often talked of as her masterpieces and both express her anguish over post-partition tribulations and massacres.
Excerpt: Tears flowed down her face in two rivulets, gathering into two tiny puddles at the corners of her mouth.
'Curse on me!' she started in a voice trembling with tears, 'I never took sweets from him... not a betel even... but tea...' She could not finish. Her words were drowned n a fast stream of tears.
Aishwarya speaks: Well, this story is pretty interesting and has a touch of feminism in it. It dwells up on the superstitious beliefs which were once part and parcel of our lives.
The weed is regarded as one of the best short stories of Amrita and like most of her other writings, poses questions regarding gender discrimination and female sexuality that prevail in societies rooted in superstitions and strongly conditioned by patriarchal values and standards. Angoori, the protagonist of the story, is a young, uneducated woman who is taught to believe that reading and education are sinful practices which all village women should keep aloof. But urban women are not considered so. Even village men are not restricted in such a way.
Girls like her are even instructed to look upon love between man and woman as the result of some magical power(the working of the weed). When Angoori's father decides to marry her off to much older Prabhati who is also a widower, she accepts her lot without any questions. Finally, when she is attracted to the young and handsome Ram Tara she does not blame it on her loneliness or loveless marriage; she strongly believes that she has also unknowingly succumbed to the charm of weed.
Angoori also says that at the age of six, girls choose their husbands by adoring their feet. At that age she doesn't know to choose by herself. So her father takes money and flowers and puts them at his feet. That means father adores the feet and he does it for the girl. There are many interesting instances which dig up on the cultural tags imposed by the society upon woman. At last Angoori requests the narrator to teach her to read. It indicates she is willing to commit the sin.
It also questions the old concept of marriage, sexual attraction and also the basic rights of women that are denied by the society. Ending is not as expected, may be we can call it as an abrupt ending. But it suggest many things. The rest is given to the imagination of the reader.
(It gives an insight into those superstitious beliefs and black magic existed in our society.)