The Girl In The Auto Rickshaw - Chapter - 03/11

Flashback to Roma’s Life

My story is not very long but is full of sweat, tears and blood which are so intermingled with each other that it is very difficult to separate one from the other. I am sure thousands of girl’s belonging to the lower class of our society will identify with me and will see many things common with my story
Currently I am 33 years old. I was born in a joint family. My father Mr. Suresh Pandit was a mill worker. He used to spend half of his salary in alcoholic habits. Other relative got separated from us due to my father’s habit of drinking. Every alternate day he used to fight with someone, either on the street or at home. My uncle left the city and settled at Chand Village, 280 kilometres from here. My aunty got married and went to her husband’s house. Me and my mother (Kashibai) were left alone.
My education discontinued because my mother and father did not have money to pay school fees. I used to help my mother with her job as a house maid, which included floor cleaning, vessel cleaning, washing clothes etc.
When my father came over drunk, I and my mother used to hide in a corner of the house because we were terrorised by my father. He used to beat us a lot. This was my routine till I turned 13 years.
At the age of 14 the cloth mill shut down and my father was jobless. He got some retirement fund and the house where we lived was provided by the company. When the company decided to shut down, they also provided the house to their labour where they were living. Thanks to the company otherwise we would have been on the streets without a house.
For next one year my father did not find any work and money was almost over. Other workers with my father were settled. My father wasted everything in alcohol and lazy life. My mother and me were struggling to earn doing housemaid job.
One day a friend of my father came to our house with the proposal of my marriage. My mother said “No my daughter is just 15 years old, there’s lot of time to think about this”.
He tried to convince my father with attraction of money and lots of promises like they will renovate our house and help my father financially. He further said that the boy for marriage proposal has applied for a job in Railways and once he gets the job you will also be benefited.
My father was convinced and he also convinced my mother. My mother thought we already faced problems for survival, maybe my daughter will get a good life after her marriage and agreed to talk further about it.
When the parents and groom (Ajit) came to see me, my mother and more than her, I was shocked because I was just 15 years old and Ajit was 34 years old. My mother opposed the proposal. I also protested but no one heard us and finally I was married to Ajit. In our society women are considered as commodities and not independent individuals with an identity of our own. God alone knows when this sorry state of affairs will end.
A 15 year old bride, who was not matured, neither physically nor mentally, entered a new and strange world, completely ignorant about what was in store for her
I had faced so much of struggle in life that I could not enjoy my childhood and now at an age of 15 I was so young that I did not fully understand the meaning of marriage. I and Ajit were in a room Ajit made physical relation with me from very first day.
At Ajit’s house they all got up at 04:00 AM and I use to sleep till 07:00 Am. After 5 days they brought me to my house and told my parents you have not taught any kind of manners to your daughter to awake up early in the morning. My father and mother scolded me and I was taken back.
After 1 month of my marriage with Ajit, my private part pained very much, due to physical relation made at an early age. Ajit and family took me to a doctor. When doctor checked my health the 1st thing he tried to do was to call the cops. However the family members managed the issue and the doctor treated me.
This marriage was just like a prepaid housemaid with free sex for Ajit. I was never treated like a daughter- in- law. They never used to take me to any family functions etc. I tried to adjust with Ajit and family for 5 years. Ajit never got a Railways job and started torturing me. So I took divorce from him and stayed with my mother and father.
At the age of 20 – 21 years I was a divorced woman who returned to her parent’s house.
In order to help my mother and father, I searched for a job. I found a job as a trainee nurse in night duty. Simultaneously I got a job in a ladies tailor shop. Next to the place where I was learning stitching work, was a garage, where Munna worked as a mechanic. We both liked each other. One day Munna proposed me for marriage I could not resist myself and said “Yes, I will marry you.”
There are always hurdles in life. God alone knows how many hurdles are pending in my life.
Munna’s family did not agree to our marriage because I was a divorcee and Munna was a bachelor. It took lots of effort for Munna to convince his parents. I also decided I will never let down Munna and his family values. Because my family was not in a position to give the dowry I decided to compensate for the shortcoming with my best behaviour and respect to all as I had married Munna with my choice.
After a few days I was married to Munna. Here a new kind of problem was waiting for me. It seemed that Munna’s parents and other close relatives were still living in the 19th century instead of 21st century. I was told to cover my face behind a “Ghunghat” (Veil). It was so cumbersome. I and the other daughter- in- law at home had to cover our faces when any elder’s or male person was at home. We were required to hide our face even while doing daily chores like cleaning the utensils, washing clothes or cooking food. Once I asked why only girls should hide their faces behind a veil while boys were allowed to roam free wearing jeans and t-shirts?
This question of mine created havoc in the household. The elders were flabbergasted and screamed at me and ordered me to ask for forgiveness as, according to them, I had committed blasphemy by questioning an age old tradition. I did not agree with them but still apologised as I knew that I alone would never be able to change these out-dated and meaningless traditions. In spite of all this, I was very much happy that Munna respected and took care of my parents. I also helped Munna by earning from my tailoring job. We used to stay in a joint family; the house we stayed in was rented. As Munna was the elder brother of all he had more responsibly and our dream was to buy a suitable home for all. There were times when we had to sleep in an auto rickshaw, by adding small savings we bought a plot and build a small house.
Our marriage had completed 7 years. Munna’s mother and other family members used to taunt me for not having kids. Later in a medical test we came to know that I had some problem in my fallopian tube. Doctor suggested surgery and said that even after surgery, there were only 50% chances that I could conceive. This was the reason my mother- in- law was forcing Munna to marry another girl but Munna always refused.
But strangely enough, a great change occurred in Munna’s behaviour after the surgery. The doctor had advised us not to have any kind of physical relations at least for six months but Munna forced himself on me, not only in the nights but in the days also whenever he came for lunch break. When I refuse to make physical relation he thrashed me like an animal and made physical relations. This disturbed me a lot but there was nothing I could do about it. I could not understand how the person, who took care of me and my family and was so soft in nature, could suddenly turn so bad.
On our 10th marriage anniversary I made a proposal of adoption of a child. Munna agreed and we searched a few places from where a child could be adopted. Munna’s family members were against adoption. I received a call from a hospital saying that a lady is willing to give her new born baby girl for adoption. I just ran to the hospital. When I met the lady, she just asked me “Will you take good care of my girl?”
I said yes, and then she asked me how many children I have? I replied I did not have any child as I could not conceive. The lady handed over the baby to me and said “I know you can take a good care of my baby.” After all formalities I brought the baby home.  I was not allowed to enter the house with someone else’s child.
I was again at my parents’ home. Munna came and convinced me to come without the baby. I was helpless; the lady who gave birth to my daughter had given false address. Now I could not find her and the small baby was my responsibility. For a few months Munna often came and met me. One day when I went to Munna’s house, I came to know Munna was married to another girl. They all thrashed and tortured me like an animal. Blood was flowing from my nose, my eyes were swollen. They all threw me like garbage into a municipal garbage bin. It took me 1 month to recover from the injuries.
I had not yet recovered from all this when a new problem raised its ugly head, which was how to manage money for household things. As an adult I could stay hungry or eat anything, but I couldn’t keep the baby hungry. I accepted a nursing job in night duty. At day time I took care of my daughter for which my mother was a very much helping hand but she also had to go for her housemaid job, at night I worked as a nurse. We just could manage our bread and butter.
After two years suddenly I lost my nursing job. Now when my daughter had completed 2 years, I had to get her admission in a nursery and I had no money for her admission and uniform etc. I was just thinking how to arrange for money and what kind of work I to do.  Suddenly my father got a major heart attack we admitted him at Government hospital. He is in I.C.U. All the medicine is not provided by the Government, some medicines have to be purchase from outside. I did not have money to purchase medicine, I had to arrange fees for my daughter’s school, and I had lost my job. I was terribly upset, that was the reason I decided to commit suicide but Raju stopped me.
Rest you know. I am still confused about my future.
I did not understand a little thing of life
Wishes are made of glass and the world is made of rock
I had made a wish that I got
A light which brought shadows
Shadows were deep although the lights were not harsher (soft)

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