Once again, Saadet measured out her single ration of rice. Once again, she placed it in an isolated vessel. Once again, she cooked alone. In perpetual mourning and separation, Saadet was one widow among 258 million worldwide, and she was helpless and alone. Would her plight ever change? Or was she destined to live out the rest of her days trapped in loneliness and want?
‘Physically Alive but Socially Dead’
Saadet had sought prosperity and blessing by worshiping traditional gods, but her life had been anything but prosperous. Her husband had been addicted to alcohol and had eventually succumbed to health problems. Women in her region are typically defined in terms of their relation to their husbands, and with her husband’s death came the end of Saadet’s social standing. In her society, when a man dies, his family members usually endure a period of mourning, but a widow’s mourning—and its “death impurity”—often doesn’t cease, says anthropology professor Sarah Lamb. As a result, widows may be forced to refrain from sharing food or interacting socially for the remainder of their days.
One might assume that Saadet’s two grown sons would support their aging mother, but they did little to take care of her. Her youngest son provided a small room.
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