Sun, 26 May, 2024

Is Being A Woman Really A Curse?

By Sweekriti Gautam

Picture Courtesy:  Nikita Gautam 

My journey to hell began when I first met him, twelve years ago. My house was in such a remote place that one could hardly see a person walking around. My entire life changed when he moved in next door. He was a tall man with a bald head. The jacket he used to wear over his broad shoulders had neatly polished buttons and the scarf around his neck was tied so that the ruffles perfectly filled the space left open by his coat. We started getting close to each other. Late night parties, drinking, dancing; It felt like I only learned the real meaning of life after meeting him.

After 6 months together, he asked me to marry him. I was so crazy about him that I didn’t think twice about accepting his proposal. The first eight months of our marriage went as smoothly as before. Slowly things started to change. One day, he came home drunk, abused me and pushed me against a wall. My love for him stopped me from saying a single word.

The most awaited day of my life, finally came when we had our first child. His drinking still continued but, I remained quiet as I could not see a way out. When he was sober, he used to make promises to stop drinking. I had faith in him, so I gave him lots of chances but his actions were limited to his promises. I had to look after the baby, while he used to go out to a hotel or to smoke with his friends. Life was tough for us, as often we wouldn’t have any money for food. He didn’t care about us. Most of the time, I had to skip my meals in order to fill my child’s stomach. Our life was a struggle.

One day,  I had left the baby home to go to the market. I returned to an eerie silence. I entered the baby’s room and found a plastic bag tied to the baby’s face. I immediately removed the plastic bag. Thankfully, I had reached home in time, and the baby was still alive. After that, I could not control myself anymore. I went straight into the kitchen where he was. I pulled a kitchen knife on him. He laughed, thinking I didn’t have the guts to use it. I became overwhelmed with rage. It was at that moment that I got apoplectic and forgot who he was, the man whom I loved most at one time. I started stabbing him with the knife. My hands didn’t stop until I was free from all the anger. I had held within myself all those years. My face was covered with his blood. I didn’t know what to do, so I buried his remains in a rice field. I made sure to clean everything, and not a trace of his blood remained in my clothes and the kitchen.

I knew I had committed a crime, but is being a woman also a crime? My problem came to an end. Everyone thought that he had left the village, but after a few months he was declared to be dead, since no one had heard anything from him. The society gave me the name of a widow. I became a burden to the rest of his family.  They blamed me for his death and called me a witch. I was not allowed to get involved in any religious activities. According to the tradition, widows were only allowed to wear white clothes. I also couldn’t eat more than once a day. My mother-in-law gave me only fruits to eat, and said that I had to be lean and thin because I was a widow. I was not even allowed to utter the name of any other man. Sometime I cursed myself for being a woman. I wanted to work, earn and make a living on my own. The reason that I could not get any work was that I am a woman and more importantly a widow.

Our Nepali society has very negative ideology regarding single women. A recent example of this ideology was the visit of the president Bidhya Bhandari to Janakpur for Bibha Mahotsav last week. Madhesi Morcha workers washed the temple with Ganga Jal because Bhandari, a widow, had visited the temple. A post made by Mr Pradeep Jha translates to, This time the auspicious occasion of “Bibaha Panchami” was disrupted by the cursed widow ‘Bidhya Bhandari’. The old sayings are correct; during auspicious events widows and cursed people should not participate. Here we can see one person with both the curses.”

A President is someone who should be viewed beyond their gender and ethnicity. People like Pradeep Jha dare to insult the Head of the Country just because she is a woman and moreover a widow. Imagine the status normal single women in Nepal. “Is being a woman really a curse?”