their own enemy
I am just a teenager,
barely literate and already a widow. I was married at
the small age of 15-16, to a government employee, who
was on contract labour duties. The man I married was a
widower. He was also twice my age. On a simple
reference from a neighbor my mother without consulting
anyone in the family, rushed through the relationship.
In my marriage, I was given whatever was possible,
namely, furniture, television, sewing machine, 101
utensils, jewellery both for myself, my husband and his
relatives. My parents also gave me Rs. 21,000 in cash.
All went alright only for sometime. However, all this
while I had no access to my husband’s salary for he
would give all his earnings to his widowed aunt (Bua)
living in the house. She was in fact the de-facto
mother-in-law of the house. She actually dictated,
dominated and controlled everything and everyone.
Around 3 months after
our marriage, I found my husband taking to alcohol. And
the quantity of the intake increased day by day. I saw
him drinking neat from the very morning itself. Since
the toilet was outside the home he would take his bottle
or pouch with him and drink even in the toilet and
return home drunk. We had many violent fights but he
wouldn’t listen. I would smash his bottles but he would
replace them with more pouches. No body in the home
i.e. his younger brother, his sister or his widowed aunt
i.e. Bua came to my help. They would say,
“he is your responsibility and you deal with him”. My
husband would vomit around in the house and even lost
control over his stools. I would spend all the time
cleaning the rooms of his filth. Over the weeks and
months, he became irregular in going for duties and
managed medical leave or even his attendance on false
grounds. Now he was no more getting even his wages.
He started to borrow
money. At times I did not even have a rupee with me to
get milk for a cup of tea. I too begged and borrowed
but there had to be a limit. After a while all sources
of borrowing dried up.
My husband finally
drank himself to death within one year of our marriage.
I grieved on his death for I did not want to be without
a husband, whatever kind he may be.
Merely a fortnight
after my husband’s death, my relatives and our village
Panchayats came home and decided that I should do the
‘Tilak’ and be considered as the wife of my
brother-in-law and be considered man and wife
immediately. But my husband’s aunt i.e. Bua did
not agree and instead said she would allow only the
‘Tilak’ at this stage and would consider a proper
formal marriage only after a year. The date too was
fixed. But instead of sending me away to my parents
house I was kept back. The following day I was pushed
into the room of my brother-in –law by my aunt and
bolted me in. I protested but my brother-in-law now
said he was anyway going to ‘own’ me. The next morning
he gave me some pills which I was asked to eat daily. I
didn’t even know what they were meant for. I was now
living with him as man and wife.
After a few months, I
received some cheques from the office of my deceased
husband as after death allowances since I was his
nominee. I was taken along by my aunt to open a joint
bank account and deposit these cheques. Thereafter I
also received some cash amount which again I deposited
in the bank. On this my husband’s aunt rebuked me and
physically assaulted me for not giving her the money.
Now she asked me to get out of the house. I never wanted
to go for I was married as I thought. But she
physically pushed me out. None of the neighbors came
out to help me. For they all knew what a shrew the aunt
was. I had no choice but to go to my parents’ house and
be a burden on their meager resources. Despite my two
brothers in the house my parents live on bare minimum
for the daughters-in-law do not let my brothers do
anything for them.
I have been informed
that the aunt and my brother-in-law or my husband
(sic) tried to persuade the bank officers to let
them operate my account by saying that I was the wife
and not well to come - - - - but luckily the bank
officials did not allow. Now I realize why they kept me
back after the death of my husband and why they threw me
But I still want to go
and live in my deceased husband’s house for it is my
house too! I do not want to be married to any one - - -
- Please help me go back to the house or help me get the
share of the property howsoever small it be.
(Navjyoti is referring
her case for legal help to Lawyer’s Collective.
Meanwhile she has been motivated to join in the
Navjyoti’s vocational training centre to help herself to
be her own provider sooner or later.)
for hapless women come at a price which they cannot
and security of women are being violated with the
active aid and abetment of women
dependant women remain a liability even for herself.