“Sit besides me with a strong heart, I will tell you my story. I was given away to an older man when I was little. My parents had died and no one was there to question my uncles’ decision. I know that my name is Saraswati but I am not sure of my age, no one told me. It was a hard life. I came to my husband house when I did not understand the meaning of marriage or a husband. I was too little. I had not had my monthly periods yet. As I stayed in the new house, I did not know anyone and I did not know the places around. I was afraid. I had no courage. What would I know? After the first year of my marriage, my mother-in-law would force me into my husbands room, night after night. And I would sit in the corner and cry. Never did my husband ask me why I was crying. Eventually the tear dried up. When I did not conceive, I was taken to the shaman. Before they could think that I was infertile, after 5 years of my marriage, I was pregnant and my daughter was born. No one took care of me. There was not even one spoon of ghee that was spared for me to eat. But I was happy my daughter was born. She was the light in my dark world.
After my first daughter I had six children. The second one was a son which made my in-laws happy. But the struggle to raise them and to look after the needs of the family continued. There was no time to sleep and no time to eat. Sometimes I felt like leaving everything and going some place in search for peace, but I had nowhere to go and I had no one to go to. Sometimes, I thought maybe life is not meant to be continued anymore. But immediately I would think about my children and tell myself that I have to live for them. They were my only hope. So I stayed and I raised all my children. There was no help, no one to ask how I felt, no one to wipe my tears. I endured everyday, hoping that my children will grow up and look after me. Do you recognise the power of women? Do you see this power in those proud men? Today, I am happy. My children have grown up and they love me. My married daughters come to visit me. My son looks after me. And when I sit and think of my past, it all feels like a dream.”
– Saraswati Madhikarmi, Panauti 7, Kavre
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