Her mother had sent her away to be brought up by someone else, and this had made her heartbroken. It was only now that she was beginning to understand why …
Nakusha, sat quietly at the bus stop, sipping her ‘cutting chai’ from the vendor opposite. A bus passing by caught her attention, and it took her back twenty years, down the memory lane.
A six year old girl peeking out of the bus window and trying to look as far back as she could, with tears in her eyes and a pain in her heart, a pain of leaving her family forever. The thing that bothered her the most was, even her Mom did not protest, did not stop that lady from taking her along, away from her home!
For the first time she had realized that nothing was permanent in life – friends, circumstances, riches or parental love.
Nakusha was the fourth out of the five daughters in her poor family. Her mother Suman used to work as a domestic help in nearby well-to-do households, to earn a living for the big family. She was physically assaulted and mentally tortured by her husband Suresh every day, for producing five daughters. He was not even willing to help his wife earn for the household full of girls, who he felt were of no use. Despite this, Suman made sure the girls did not feel the heat of Suresh’s anger and violence.
Nakusha was a sharp girl and she had already started earning to help her family, by selling flowers at traffic signals and bus stops. This was the reason she was loved the most by her father over her other sisters.
Her eldest sister Seema, who was 16 years old, used to work as a sales girl in a small store of a big mall. A few months back, she had eloped with a guy she loved.
Their father Suresh had decided to marry her off to a man who was more than twice her age, for a mere Rs. 25,000. He said he thought she would be happy with this man, as he earned well. The man wanted to marry Seema because she was really good looking. He earned well as a contractor on a construction site, and had lost his wife 2 years back. There was no chance that any other young good looking girl would marry him and take care of his 2 children from his first wife.
But the girl was not ready; she was in love with a boy from her workplace. Seema had that courage to stand up for herself and marry the guy of her choice, going against her father. Suman, on the other hand, supported her daughter over her greedy husband, because she knew what it meant to spend life with a person whom you don’t love.
Nakusha was too small to understand all this at the time. All she knew was that her sister could not visit them anymore because she has married against their father’s will.
Since this incident, Suresh was on the look out for rich men, willing to pay money, and marry the rest of his daughters. Suman was worried about how she will save her girls from being sold off by her husband. Thus, she sent Nakusha’s 2 elder sisters (aged 12 and 14 years) to another town to work as a nanny/child-caretaker for families. They were doing well there, and Suresh was also happy because the girls sent a part of the money they earned.
Suman was of course not happy that her daughters had to work at such a raw age, but she had no choice. At least she was satisfied that the girls were safe there. Now, only two girls were left with the couple – 6 year old Nakusha and her 2 year old younger sister.
Nakusha had a dark complexion with big expressive eyes. She was a chirpy girl and the spark in her eyes always attracted strangers and passersby to talk to her.
One day a smart women in her mid-twenties noticed Nakusha while she was waiting at the bus stop. She worked as a teacher at a public school and used to catch the bus from this bus stop every day. Nakusha sold flowers at the same bus stop and she was always liked by this teacher-didi. One evening, teacher-didi followed Nakusha to her home and asked Suman if she can adopt her daughter. Nakusha did not understand what adopt meant, but from the emotions her mother had in her eyes, she realized that this lady was going to take her away from her parents.
Nakusha did not want to go. But Suman was ready, because she knew the kind of future she was capable of giving to her daughters versus the future that this lady would give her. It was certainly better than that of her older daughters, whom she had saved from an early marriage, but were living a life of drudgery.
Suresh was fond of his daughter, but he loved money more. Poverty kills all the emotions, because hunger is more powerful than all emotions. He too agreed to send Nakusha with the lady, but he demanded some money in return, which the lady agreed to pay.
The lady had taken Nakusha along with her in a bus which had departed from that same bus stop, 20 years ago. Nakusha had lost faith in relationships, love and family that day. She did not realize why her mother was sending her away with a stranger and she was very sad and unhappy.
Today Nakusha, siting at that very same bus stop, was old enough to understand why her mother did this to her. Teacher-didi gave Nakusha a very good upbringing. She was a single woman, a divorcee then, and Nakusha was her new reason to live. She understood Nakusha’s urge to be in touch with her family and allowed her to do so. Nakusha was a young doctor today, working at a community hospital in that area and earning well to support teacher didi as well as her mom Suman, and her younger sister who was studying law with Nakusha’s help and guidance. Her three elder sisters were happily married and her father was unfortunately no more.
Nakusha’s life was positively impacted by different women who came in her life.
Suman had been successful to give her family a good future despite all odds. Nakusha was really proud of her mother. She respected Teacher Didi because she was a lady who fought against the society, her family and everyone who forced her to continue an unsuccessful marriage. She not only saved her own life from being devastated, but also adopted and raised a girl child. Seema, her eldest sister, had helped Nakusha understand that you have to stand for yourself even if circumstances are against you. If you do not help yourself, nobody else can.
Nakusha, who had suffered anguish at the young age of 6, came out strong with the experiences life gave her, good as well as bad. Her mom and Teacher didi were two very different women, but were so similar in terms of thoughts, independence and self-respect. They were her true role models!
Gender equality or being feminist does not depend on your financial status or the family you come from. This story is for many such Nakushas, Seemas, Sumans and Teacher-didis from all different strata’s of our society. This is to the WOMEN who do not allow circumstances take over…Come what may!
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