The voice of my mother!
I was married at the age of 12. I haven’t experienced even my first mensuration at that time. Since I was born I was overburdened with the responsibilities that were entwined with my female identity. I would do several jobs: Child care (looking after my younger siblings), different household chores, herding, work in fields, and take care of the tasks to be done in our small family hotel in the hills of Gulmi, west Nepal . Yes, I was an uneducated village girl. I could then hardly read and write. At that time, girls were not sent to schools. I wanted to study. I wanted to be a responsible educated citizen. Though I would work hard from early morning till late night, my contribution was invisible. I had a desire to make it visible. My desire of becoming literate washed away with my ‘child marriage’. I was married to a nearby village with a Nepali Indian soldier. From all respects including age, we were wide apart. He came to have a look of me, liked me, and choose me as his wife. Since there was no question of going against the proposal made by my family I accepted him as my husband. My responsibilities doubled when my status changed from daughter to daughter-in-law. After marriage, my husband went back to India to resume his service. I was left back looking after the house, fields and in-laws. He would visit us on his vacations once in a blue moon. The days were hard for me. My little hands and stature would work hard, but it would hardly get acknowledged. After a couple of years I got the chance to travel to India with my husband. My friends were of similar age as that of mine: immature wives of Nepali Indian soldiers. I remember we were more like kids than mature married women. I became the mother of a little girl at an age of 16. My husband’s and my happiness was boundless and we shared it by distributing dozens of ladoos to our fellow comrades. With the birth of my baby, a dream started to take shape inside me; a dream of educating my child.
Travel to the Indian territories with my husband provided me the opportune exposure to the wider world than I’d known. I got acquainted with several new things: People, places, language, culture, discipline, and also leisure times. However, life within camp boundaries (though easy on several strands) was no different than living inside the boundaries of my house and village back in Nepal. It offered me both gains and setbacks. As a wife of a soldier, I always lived in anxiety. My husband would be off-away for days, months and sometimes we would apart for years. Furthermore, raising four children alone was not easy. By the age of 24, I was a mother of 4 kids: 3 daughters, and a son. I was a strong woman raising four children all alone. The biggest gain from my temporary migration to the camps of India was the opportunity to educate my children which presumably would not have been possible if I would have lived in the remote village of Nepal.
With scarce resources it is difficult to educate four kids. Army service in those years would provide you abundant services but not savings. Even retirement from the service didn’t bring enough relief. By the time, my husband got retired our kid’s education was unfinished. Returning back to Nepal didn’t seem a fine option then. I insisted in staying back for a few more years. My husband took another job after his retirement and I looked after our kids in a rented space (far off army camps and its facilities). Those who belong to army background would apparently figure out the hardships off-camp once anyone is out of military service. With meager means of survival it wasn’t a small decision, however, I was determined not to return unless all my kids attain necessary education and we did it.
I am 50 years old now. I am still illiterate but not literally. Though I’m an uneducated blind, I have four highly educated sticks to lean on. I hear a saying these days that if we educate a woman, we educate a whole family and ultimately a nation. I am proud that, I have produced four literate nationals (3 women and 1 man). Finally, I made a visible contribution. Can you see my contribution? Finally, despite that I’m uneducated; I’m able to make you read my voice.
I am thankful to my husband who made my desire to educate all my four kids realistic. I am thankful to all my kids who worked hard and made me a proud mother. I’m honored that all my kids have respectable profession and their contribution to the family, society and nation is visible. To my kids, I am sorry for; I couldn’t go with you for any programs, meetings, admissions, transfers, I couldn’t be any help with your homework and exams. I am sorry that I couldn’t read your mark sheets and praise you for your good grades. I am sorry for all the hardships you’ve faced because of your ignorant mother. But believe me, I did my best to raise all of you as a responsible educated citizen, so that you can raise and educate your own child in a much better way than your mother.