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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Girls Are Not Allowed To Have Wishes And Desires In This Country: Female Vendor Kamla

  • IWB Post
  •  November 8, 2018

“Fate works in mysterious ways, didi. I would be happy today, with a loving husband and a child in my arms but I see my sister have it all. I am not jealous of my sister but the thought suffocates me- why was I the one to pay the price of being a woman? I was never scared of hardwork or hard times, it was the fear of being alone in it, and here I am living my nightmare.”

When I wandered into Johri Bazar on Diwali evening continuing my search of female vendors and to know how they celebrate Diwali, I wasn’t ready for a story that would question my very belief. You see, I am someone who lives by the maxim that we write our future and control our fate. No stars or angels involved in the process, but what Kamla told me stands in contrast to my belief system.

Diwali

Kamla

Kamla and Devyani are two sisters who sit in the main Johri Bazar area and sell tablecloths, bed sheets, pillows covers, cushion covers etc. They sit side by side, with their individual, more or less identical, stock on the ground separately. What sets them apart is the fact that Devyani is accompanied by her husband and her two small kids every day and Kamla sits alone.

Diwali

Didi, when the marriage proposal came from my husband Ashok’s family, Kamla was supposed to marry him. Every blouse, kurta was stitched as per her size, whatever jewelry we could arrange was of her choice. But on the day of the marriage, she got her periods. The elders were like ‘She is impure right now, how can she sit for the holy wedding rights.’ So, they decided that as the wedding can’t be canceled, I will be married to Ashok instead,” Devyani shared.

Diwali

Devyani

In the following month when Devyani came back home, she gushed about how loving, caring and responsible Ashok was. So when Ashok’s family visited them again seeking Kamla’s hand again but for their younger son, Lokesh, this time, her family was more than happy to say yes to them as they expected Lokesh to be like his elder brother.

“I didn’t want to marry him. Even before when he had come to my house, I was put off by his behavior. But girls are not allowed to have wishes and desires in this country. I was married to him and now…” Kamla hesitated to speak any more.

“Sharaab pi ke marta hai, madam isko woh!!” exclaimed an elderly woman from a nearby stall. “I stay near her house and every day, that drunkard takes away all the money she earns, and if she tries to stop him, he beats her. You get him arrested, madam. He does not deserve a woman who is so loyal and caring,” she said. “During festivals, the situation gets even worse.”

As I looked at the woman to continue what she was saying, it was Devyani’s husband Ashok who responded.

“She dreads the thought of going home. Because that monster thinks that she must earn more during these times. The police drives us away every 2 hours, people bargain like their life depends on it and then go away without buying anything- how can any sane person expect her to make a huge profit? Here she is toiling in this heat and there he is lounging in the charpai at home, most probably passed out in his drunken stupor. He is my blood, but I want her to leave him or better, file a complaint against him,” Ashok said, looking at Kamla in concern.

“Na, na!!” exclaimed Kamla. “People will say that I will be punished by God for committing this sin. I don’t care about that, but it will pain my heart to see him in prison because of me. Sahi ho jaenge kisi din toh. Love is very powerful,” she said in a hopeful voice.

While she is surviving each day in this hope, what about the thought, that longing that the life her sister is living was so close to being hers?

 

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