A STRONG LADY

3 11 2011

“How could I protest? They didn’t even ask me.I had seen the man but didn’t know much about him.There was no space left for me to protest with them.I just wept for days and the day finally came.” She was calm and peaceful as she was telling me her story of her marriage with a man who was 20 years older than her.

Bima Kumari was born 62 years ago to an astrologer father and his wife as their third child out of their five children. She was born in a middle class family in a village of western Nepal.”My childhood was fine. I reared my brother so, I love him very much but I don’t know if he loves me.”She was smiling as she was describing her time as a child. “We used to eat rice, wheat, and maize very often. There was no warring for food. We had enough land for a family of eight to survive. My father was an astrologer and my grandfather too. So, we had enough money, land and food and cattle’s too. But we three sisters had to work hard. We had to find fodder for cattle’s, help our mother in the kitchen and field. However, I was very privileged to have that kind of childhood and I am content with it.”
Bima was a hardworking girl. She raised her younger brother, helped her parents, never fought with her sisters and ate well. Besides she loved to play ” Choi-dum”, politically to be correct , she loved to play a game where one has to touch an opponent in order to make him/her run after their opponents and touch them. Nevertheless, she feels sad about a missed opportunity to attend the school.” My brothers were sent to school by my elder brother never went. My younger brother went to school but he never studied well. Whatever be the case, he has a job today.Hahaha…”She smiled again but it was ephemeral. It was followed by a gloomy face which she couldn’t hide. She continued her story.” I always wanted to read like my father .He used to sit in a bed placed in the balcony of my house read aloud the ved and the swosthani [religious books].I wanted to be like him but it was not in my bhaggya[ fortune]. Everything has to be written in one’s forehead. The school was far from my home. So they [parents] didn’t send me even my father wanted all of us 3 sisters to study along my brothers but it was written not to be. ”

She lived happily with her family for 15 years but the day came knocking the doors of her house.”I didn’t want to marry but I could say nothing. The man beside me in the jaggya was older than my father but my father had promised the village that he would help the orphan to restart his life. So he was ready to sacrifice my life for his neighbor , a 35 year old man who was as poor as a beggar , didn’t have anything but a house and a plot of land that was kept as mortgage.” She got married that day; a cold one in the month of Mangshir.It marked the beginning of a period in her life full of struggle.

“The day I entered my new house, my mother-in-law’s sister told me there are no woods to make fire and rice is running out of stock. So I ate my parent’s house, my maita[maternal house].”She started her married life with a dinner at her maita. It was then full of miseries. Scarcity of food, land to grow them, utensils and wood to cook them and clothes to wear made her days hard to live. But her father supported her a lot. He provided her with money, food and most importantly moral support. She was the head of a family of two at the tender age of 15 and had not been her father’s help; she would have chosen an easier path.” If my father and his family hadn’t helped me, I would have run away with someone of my age but I never had to think of doing so because my father was always with me. I am grateful toward him.”

She witnessed some very miserable days of her life when her first child was born .Her husband wasn’t healthy enough to support her in fieldwork. There was nobody else in the family to support her.” I had to find fodder for my buffalo. It wasn’t provided with any grass for two days. It was merely 10 days after my little boy was born. I went to a cliff, found some grass and milked the buffalo. My health was fragile as I had to manage with just 1 manna rice for 12 days.” Her husband bought some rice for name-giving ceremony.”Life was hard. I had to get back the land kept for mortgage then cultivate it, feed my family. It took me two years to get the land back. My father helped me for that. After four years, I gave birth day to twins, a son and daughter. My oldest son helped me to raise them.

Bima live her life happily despite all the miseries and difficulties. Her courage, consistency and diligence paid off. He husband got a job as a teacher in a primary school.”He used to earn 60 Rupees a month. That was a huge boost for me and my family. We then started to pay back the money we had lent to buy the buffalo and some land. We were gradually free from any loan. It took us ten years to be free. My husband used to cultivate vegetables, fruits and sell them. The income was enough for us to live.” The profit from agriculture and salary from the job supported the family. Their status grew in the society .The family which was before looked down by others started to be known as Guru’s family. Baima’s son was admitted to the school in class 4 without having attended it before.
“My husband used to cook food .He was an Upadhyaya and I am a Jaisi.So I didn’t cook. One day my son was inside the kitchen. He poured some hot milk in his hand. But neighbors took the incident in a different way. It was wrongly interpreted as husband-wife’s quarrel in which son became the victim. Even though we were growing up as a family, our neighbors didn’t treat us that way.” She shares her experience of being treated badly by the society even if they didn’t belong to lower class.

Time waits for no one. Neither it did for Bima Kumari.Her children were growing older nor finally was her oldest son to be married. “My son was married to a relative of one my neighbors. Both the bride and bridegroom were 15.My son was handsome and his wife was a sweet girl. She was uneducated but respectful, hardworking, and fit to be in my family.”When asked about any quarrels between Sashu-Buhari, she said “it was normal to have misunderstanding but we never fought. II have had never been under a mother-in-law so I might have been strict to her when I remember now. ” She has always been a hardworking woman so her daughter in law had to cope with her working style and work for 16 hours a day.

“It was the happiest day in my life. My son got job in Sarkari office and most importantly, a new member was added to our family, my grandson. But the days couldn’t remain same. The small cute boy was taken away from us.” I could see some sadness in her face. She went on telling her story.”Then after a long time we got another child in our house. My younger son and daughter got married on the same year. Joy returned back again. We were very delighted with another child in our newly built house. This time my younger son had become a father.” She was joyous again. Her excitement was related to her saying her story of her proud life.

“My husband passed away 10 years ago. My sons are now thula [senior] officers in Sarkari[government] offices. They frequently travel abroad too. My older son took me to America last year. It was a big country. I lived there for 3 months. My four grandsons and two granddaughters are hostelers in Kathmandu and very good at study.” She was boastfully saying it.

After many questions, I asked her a last question. How do you feel about yourself now? You have struggled a lot. Do you have something to say about your life?

“Yes, I have struggled very much. When I was young, I did a lot of work. I didn’t care about my health. Today my body is very unhealthy. I have nothing to say about it though. I am very happy now. My sons love me very much. I remember my husband. Had he been here, he would have been very happy. I want to live 10 more years . Chaurashi garna sahrai man cha.[I want to do a ceremony done after a person lives for 1000 full moon in his/her life.”

Despite facing many troubles, she did not even drop a tear while remembering her days. She was not nostalgic. Her courage and will have helped her to reach in the position she is today. So let’s hope her dream of living for 1000 Purnimas get fulfilled and she lives even longer. People like her inspire the world.

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