Story of a one of the courageous girls in my village
The short story, My Fate was a real life story based on twenty three year-old Tamil girl named Umani. Umani is one of my close village friends. She shared her bitter life experience with me when I went to Sri Lanka during last summer vacation. I interviewed her on 28th July 2010.
I was born and brought up in one of the rural villages in Southern part of Sri Lanka called Udugama. My mother, Muniamma is a Tamil lady and my father, Sirisena is a Sinhalese who worked as a laborer in one of the famous tea states in Udugama. We lived in ghettos where state laborers were supposed to live with their families. I was the eldest from the two younger brothers and three younger sisters. It was not easy for my parents to manage a family with six children. However, my mother used to send me to the village school with lots of expectations as other mothers do have. We had a fairly good life before my father became a victim of lung cancer as a result of alcohol and cigarettes. After the terrible sickness of my father, our financial condition became worse than before. Due to many financial issues my mother had to play the role of a bread winner and support our family in order to improve our family conditions.
In this situation, I was guilty for not being able to support my family. Being the eldest child in my family, I understood the responsibilities that I have to do for my parents and my siblings. I asked my mother to stop me from going to school and allow me to work with her to earn money for my father’s medicine and family expenses. Anyway, my mother did not allow me to stop my education and to earn money. Even in the midst of many struggles and obstacles I somehow managed to complete my education. I was able to perform well at the public Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations with my mother’s great encouragement. Subsequently, during my period of waiting for results, I thought to do a temporary job to enhance my family’s living conditions and collect some money for my higher education. At the same time, my father’s illness became worse, and as a result of that we had to spend two hundred fifty Sri Lankan Rupees per day for his medicines.
I was compelled to join the tea factory as a lady laborer where my father had worked previously because of my poor family condition. Later on, I realized that I get paid according to the days I work, so I worked overtime. However, I was satisfied with my earnings and became very happy as I was able to share it with my family. After the first one and a half months of my work, my father’s sickness became rigorous. We took our father to the village doctor, Weda mahaththaya. He told that my father was seriously sick and had to do an immediate operation. In addition, he told that operation might cost nearly fifty thousand Sri Lankan Rupees. This amount was something more than we imagined. After taking consideration of my family tragedy, tea superintend was kind enough to offer me a new job with a better payment and housing facilities that could help me to cover up my father’s medical and family expenses. My new job was to settle the accounts in a small tea factory, which was thirty miles far away from my home.
At first, my mother was upset when I told her of my plan. She was afraid because some of the village girls who had gone to work far from their homes were no longer virgins when they came home. However, I persuaded her not to worry, because we did not have any other choice. Eventually, I started my new job with lot of hopes, but it seems to fade as time passed by. My boss, the Chef Accountant was an elderly man who made me understand the plight of a woman especially if she came from a disadvantaged background. I realized that his expectations were high and had ulterior motives in making me work more than the assigned timings. He sexually assaulted and threatened me that he would make things worse for me and dismiss me from my job if I did not meet his demands and sexual desires. I was no longer categorized as a “Pure Girl” in terms of virginity according to the social norms where I belonged to.
I hated myself; because I was not being able to protect my virginity. I was voiceless and felt being chained, forced to not speak on behalf of my family and my job. I was afraid about what would happen to my mother if she would get to know my miserable fate, and essentially what would become of my father if I left my job. However, I managed to work. After the completion of my two year contract job, I went home. I was glad to see my family’s happy contented smiles and my recovering father after the operation which altered my destiny. I realized that I was hiding behind my tears, and my pain had vanished after meeting my family to whom I had made all my life sacrifices for.