In a lonely place
Mar 8, 2019-
“Ah! Finally, Tihar came. Now I can steal from my brother’s wallet,” said Sheetal, my friend, as we were going home from school.Thirteen years ago, when my mother was pregnant and ready for the delivery, I was busy praying God that it’d be a brother. A brother with whom I could play, a brother who could be my saviour, a brother about whom I could boast among my friends, but he didn’t listen to my prayers.
After some yelling and crying voices, my father (I didn’t know he was happy or sad) came out of the hospital room and shouted staring towards the wall that the second child was also a girl. I was four then and cried, my voice echoed through the walls of hospital. I even slapped my sister when I held her for the first time. I was sad then and am still sad… for having done so.
Today, I wish I hadn’t slapped her. I wish I had hugged her and said, “You are the best gift I’ve ever received.” I wish that first slap would instead have been the first pat. But my society had shaped my mind as such and also my family, it seemed, desired a boy rather than a girl. I and my sister were not desired because we were born as girls in a male-dominated society.
I am 17 now, and I have always lived with this feeling of being unwanted. And it does not end here. We have been deprived of many opportunities because our father was never supportive. But mom was different. She always supported us going against all the odds, even when she faced domestic violence. We were always protected by her and never beaten by anyone. We were probably the luckiest girls living in the far-western region of Nepal.
Growing up, the worst of all problems was when we had menstrual periods. My sister got periods for the first time when she was 11 and I, at 12. It was very hard to get through those five days at first, but mom taught us how to use a clean cloth as a pad. Still, those days were a curse because of the chhaupadi practice. We had to remain out of the house on rough sheds and were believed to be untouchable. We were given less food and water. By the way, I once had heard Goddess Kamakhya goes through menstruation cycle once in a year and when the nearby Brahmaputra River goes red due to her blood, people crowd to touch the river water. So if there is a “Goddess of Menstruation”, then why are we declared impure?
We were just two daughters because mom got some gynecological problem after my younger sister was born. Thank god my mom did not have to be one of the “baby producing machines” like most other aunts in our area.
Even amidst adversities, we were living peacefully. But something happened last year on the day of Govardhanpuja that left every one of us shattered.
My sister and I used to play deusi during Govardhanpuja, but that day, I had some assignments, so I could not go play with her. As her friend Maya described, she and my sister went all around our village and then they decided to go farther to the next village. Oh! How I wish they had never decided to go out.
Next to Rampur village, our distant relatives used to live. When they went to play deusi there, nobody was there. After some calls one of their sons came out. He was all alone in the house. After giving the daan-dakshina, the boy, aged 19, requested my sister to help him with some household chores. My sister agreed.
He asked her to help him cut the grass. They went to the deserted jungle. There he tried to touch her. She thought it was a friendly touch but it was not. He slowly started moving his hands towards her breasts. She moved his hands away, feeling uneasy. He told her not to move and told her to keep this a secret. Otherwise he would do the same to me. She tried to push him away, but he held her tight. She tried to shout, but he pressed her face with his hands.
Then he pulled off her sari. He pulled off her clothes, and mutilated her body. He forced her and raped her. He killed her soul. He murdered her virginity. He shattered her dreams. He destroyed her world. He crushed her self-respect. He dumped her hopes. He destroyed her happiness. He bloodied her body. He played with her life. He knocked off her dignity.
That day she did not come home. Once it was evening, we called Maya asking where my sister was. She said that the party was dismissed two hours ago. Then we started searching her. We searched for her all around our village, but we could not find her at all. Then we decided to go to the next village. My father and I, and some villagers decided to go towards Rampur and my mother along with others went to Phoolnagar.
While others were busy searching her, I also decided to search her in the jungle. I wish I had not been the first person to see her in that naked and bleeding state. She was there dead among the weeds. There I came to know, how much I loved my sister, how much I cared about her, how much I missed her. I wish I was in her place. I wish I would be dead instead of her.
But there I was, alive besides my dead sister. With swollen eyes and her cheeks wet. I was there cursing God, cursing the culprit.
After much request to the police and investigations, we came to know who the culprit was. Now I don’t regret about one thing. That is I exposed his true colours and told my sister’s story to the world that I put that beast behind the bars. Dear sister, if you are watching from somewhere, I just want to admit the thing I never admitted. That is, ‘I love you.’ I love you more than I have loved anyone and I really miss you.
Balmiki Education Foundation
Published: 08-03-2019 10:59