- Mandeep Kaur
Swapna's menarche was marked by a grand celebration.
To proclaim she has attained the "marriageable age".
To welcome potential suitors for a match.
She was decked in a silk saree and adorned with jewellery,
She was lavished with gifts.
After this celebration,
When she turned fifteen,
The parents of her mother's cousin brother appeared with a marriage proposal,
Which was accepted by her parents,
She was wed at such a tender age,
To a man double her age.
She learned fast that
Her husband was jobless
She moaned hard
"For this, I was debarred
From school and my joyous days"
I am Swapna. Yes, l was married off at the tender age of fifteen when children of my age open up their wings to fly high. I was very glad about receiving my first menstrual flow. I hail from a South Indian family where Menarche is celebrated with great pomp and show. It is marked to show that the menstruating girl is now of marriageable age and can bear children. This is an age-old tradition. My father who is highly educated and had rendered his services to the railways till his retirement adhered to this custom very firmly once. To my bad luck l will say, my mother's cousin brother's mom had her eye on me for her son. She left no stone unturned to get the marriage fixed. In our culture, it was normal to enter into this relationship. My man was aged 28 then. My parents halted my schooling at class 8th thinking :"What's the use, after all, she will get married and settle down as a housewife?"
My marriage was a bolt from the blue. I found out that my husband was good for nothing and dependent solely on his father's income. My in-laws nagged me now and then making my life miserable. It was time for my father to exhibit his intellect. He enrolled me for NOS in 2001 after a year of my marriage to complete my education. In quick succession, l completed my matriculation and intermediate staying at my mom's place. Within this span, many family issues aroused from my in-law's side. Then a mutual decision was taken by both the parties for our marriage to be given a second chance.
Likewise, l yielded to my married life and was blessed with a baby girl in 2004. She came into my life as a ray of hope and a bundle of joy. My greedy in-laws and husband never had a soft corner for her too. When my daughter was 2.5 years old the situation became worst, so l stepped out of my so-called house with my little daughter.
No doubt my parents supported me a lot during my tough times, but l wanted to come out from the dark world and keep my self occupied to get out of the trauma. I lost my childhood forever but l didn't want my daughter to lose anything in her life. I came to be a school teacher in a nursery school with a pay of Rs 700.l felt the need for higher education every time so l used to work, take tutions to supplement my income and also study hard. After the culmination of my Bachelors in English in 2012 through distance education, l, fortunately, had an offer from a primary school where my daughter was studying then. I accepted it approving payment of Rs 2500.
As the days went by, my upkeep kept on increasing, so l thought of earning a good living. In 2014, l acquired my Master's Degree and started working in a reputed school with better pay.
My parents began to carry me in high esteem, it's just because of them that l feel proud to be a B.Ed Degree holder now. My life had taken a new turn, l felt satisfied and lived my dreams in my daughter. She was about to appear for her 10th board examination.
Unfortunately, the pandemic struck and l was rendered jobless for the first time in my life having a teaching experience of 18 years.
Those days seemed more terrible than my early marriage days. I was shattered and depressed, very much worried about my daughter's future. As l have to settle my daughter in a good institution after her matriculation. Since the education sector suffered a lot due to the pandemic, l lost hope in joining any other school. l started to look for other job opportunities. One day l came across an advertisement, looking for a telecaller for an abroad consultant. I walked in for an interview. I was selected by God's grace to return to work again but in a different field.
My husband who is in the same city, never enquired about me and my daughter's well being. Though we were separated in 2006, we are not legally divorced till now.
Getting married soon, raising my daughter as a single parent, l have learned what is life. People call me a "strong woman", it is the circumstances that made me strong. l even came across a juncture in life when l preferred to kill me, but l realized that l have to cope up with everything just because of my daughter.
My parents amended their massive fault by wedding my younger sister at the age of 22 with a software Engineer.