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How will a daughter navigate her life?

The role of women in Indian society is too often viewed as a kind of liability. For families that are not really well-off, this dangerous idea sometimes translates to women being subjected to neglect and other poor treatment. Female injustice takes place in various forms such as – female infanticide, lack of education, child marriage, marrying a younger woman to an older man, re-marriage done forcefully to inappropriate person, sexual assault, girls getting inadequate diet because they are taken as candidate meant to ultimately settle with the groom’s family and various other forms. Even though women have a higher status in our scriptures and religion but in practical world they are treated as an inferior creation. They are rejected of their basic rights of liberty and equality. They are under the influence of their parents before marriage and under the influence of husband after marriage.
This is a true story about a woman named Urmilla who had the strength and courage to fight against all evils and create a respectable life for herself & her kids.


She is a living example of determination and grit and source of inspiration for us all. Urmilla who lived in her parent’s house in the village named Chandbad (Ahmedpur - Sehore).  Her struggles started at a very early age. She was deprived of education & she went to school only upto 3rd grade. She was asked to work instead in the fields, milk cows, do the household activities and also works for the neighboring houses. When she was 15 years old she was married to a man double her age, another major injustice in her life. When she got married she was treated poorly by her husband and his family. Her husband took her to stay in a shanty in an extremely interior place far away from her mother’s house as well as her in-laws house.


Urmilla’s mother and brother were never bothered where her husband had taken her and they never enquired about her whereabouts. Once she got to meet a known villager of her village, she asked him to convey her message to her mother & brothers to come and help her. They never bothered to enquire about Urmilla’s wellbeing and take any action to save her. She used to eat gooseberry from trees to satisfy her hunger and used to boil them in a furnace before eating. She had to work till midnight and was again made to work from 5:00 am, with no break during the day. Her husband also used to engage in domestic violence. She was not given proper nutrition, nor given any money for personal use in spite of her working so hard. Rarely did she get sufficient sleep or time to keep herself healthy.


Insufficient diet, lack of proper sleep, domestic violence, hard core labor, and the task of maintaining the household, etc; became unbearable and she decided to go back to her mother’s house. She started living with her mother and brothers. There again she was mistreated by all the family members. Both her brothers and their wives started fighting because they did not want her presence and her mother always considered her sons first and neglected Urmilla’s requirements and needs. They used to ask her to plough the fields & milk the cows in the morning & evenings. She worked during the day in other neighboring houses and in her absence her mother used to break the lock of her suitcase in which she kept her belongings such as clothes, etc and take her entire money she used to save – after giving a reasonable amount of it to her elder brother who never worked and who used to waste the entire day watching movies.


She once again decided to go to her in-laws house thinking that after a break from each other for some time, the relations may improve and they may live well together with each other. During this time she conceived her first child. The matters became worse and since she was pregnant, her uncle (mamaji) who being well off financially took her to his house. Jyoti was born there, her first child. She then went back to her mother’s house as she had no better place to go & the same story of mistreatment began again. When Jyoti was 4years of age, she thought to give her husband another chance, because she believed that on seeing his daughter, he may realize the value of a family and consider improving their relationship. Everything was well for a few months and she conceived her son Ajay during this time, but again she had to leave her husband’s house because of same mistreatments being repeated every single day.


Facing the same reality again & having no other option she had to go back to her mother’s house. She was working hard till the day of her delivery. As she now had the responsibility of her two kids, she started working hard outside at her neighbors to feed her family. She used to leave her 5 months old son in her mother’s house and go to work in Islamapur, near Karond. Her inability to breast feed her son, the new work and travelling up and down took the toll and she started falling sick. She left her job and continued working near in the household near her dwelling as earlier. Her brothers wanted her to remarry, but having a horrible experience earlier and along with the responsibility of her two kids, she feared entering into wedlock once again. Considering that if it didn’t work out, she will land herself up in more trouble, so she refused. Her sister-in-laws started fighting and blackmailed her to leave the house. She finally decided to save her brother’s marriage and said she will leave the house with her kids. Her brother’s were cruel enough to throw her and her kids luggage outside. Her father was kind, but did not have enough say in comparison to her mother & brother’s. They were a family of three brothers and one sister. Even among three brothers’s no one had the kindness to take care of their sister. Her father insisted not to take the kids along because she had no proper dwelling, and let the kids stay with their grandparent’s. But in her absence, her kids were treated miserably. Her four year old daughter was forced to do household jobs such as cleaning the floor, utensils, clothes, etc; she refused to continue this further and asked her father to trust her to take the children with her assuring to take good care of them.


She therefore came to Bhopal looking for a job. Since she was not educated she did not get a job where she could afford a decent quarter for herself and kids on rent. She then started working in homes to earn money to educate her children & provide for their basic needs. No one came to support them. When she was unable to pay the rent of her house, the owner used to break the glass windows with stones and then see inside the house from the broken windows and harass her and the kids. Urmilla used to close the door tightly and stay inside to protect themselves. She was unable to pay the debts of the retail store owners, and they started to visit her home for collecting the dues. While growing, her kids slept on a hungry stomach many times as there was no food to serve. She uses to tell her kids that she has eaten outside so that the children may get sufficient diet to keep them healthy.


Her father got some burn injuries when Urmilla was 10 years old. Although, he recovered then, years later he suffered a major leg injury. The brothers left their father at Urmilla’s house in Bhopal. Urmilla took her father to the hospital for operation and bore all the expenses herself, but soon after that her father passed away. She had no money to conduct the last rites and asked her brothers to loan her some money but they refused. Then she borrowed Rs. 3000 from her landlord to conduct the rites. Her brothers never fulfilled their responsibilities and instead kept asking her for money time and again.


When Jyoti grew up a little, she started working hard, never purchased new books in schools and used old books taken from other kids for her studies. She knew the importance of studies and to support that she started teaching younger students along with her studies.


After schooling she started working in a hospital as a receptionist and alongside she completed her MBA. Then she worked in a private company as an assistant accountant. Soon Urmila’s family started a decent living. Jyoti voluntarily took her family’s responsibility on her shoulders. People soon started criticizing Urmilla for living on her daughter’s income (uski kamai kha rahi hai) and therefore she is not getting her married. Jyoti had decided that she won’t marry unless her brother completes his education & find a job for himself. Jyoti earned and supported for her brother’s education, and soon he also completed his MBA. They both were very hard working kids, never took any outside coaching, and never failed and simultaneously earned enough to fund themselves. People criticized Jyoti by blaming her for various reasons as she went to work to support her family. They stopped meeting people socially as everyone were treating them horribly & accusing them of being strong. No one came to support them but never backed from criticizing.


Urmilla’s mother & her brother’s still don’t support her. They had an ancestral property which they sold for a few lakhs, but didn’t give Urmilla her share, in spite of seeing her struggling for so long. Urmilla was innocent at heart and she signed the papers and received nothing in return.

Urmilla soon told her daughter, that she need not need worry about family responsibilities as her brother had started earning and now consider the marriage proposal she was receiving. All Urmilla wanted for her daughter was to live her life happily – a piece of wisdom which many need to learn.


Urmilla and her son still live in a rented house but Jyoti is now married to a great boy & a lovely family. Her son is working in a Private Bank and he is also engaged to a lovely girl in Bhopal who is a fashion designer by profession.

As a single mother who had to provide for her family – education becomes a great pillar of strength. Urmilla never had a proper education for herself but her life experiences made her strong to provide education to her children. In India, education is not considered a priority in case of daughters. People fail to realize that education does not only help economically but also helps to process emotions in a positive way and healthy way. Education helps her be aware of her rights as an individual.  Separation further illuminates the gender bias. After separation a woman has to take the responsibility of rearing her kids because of the fear that her kids will be mistreated just the way she had been.

The most important fact to keep in mind is that your daughter is an individual and has a mind, body and soul of her own. She is the ultimate caretaker of her life. To support her and see her happy does not mean to bind her to matrimony. Her getting married isn’t the end-all-be-all of her life, it’s just a step along the way that many young people hope to take, so it should ultimately be her decision whether she wants to get married or not and whom to get married.


True self confidence means she needs to be an advocate for her own story, where she is free to make her life choices without being judged especially for the wrong reasons. Education will help your daughter in her journey to freedom. What you really want for your darling daughter, the little girl who you cradled in your arms and watched grow up, is success in this life. Equip her with the self confidence she needs to be the best person and support her in reaching her highest potential with your powerful motherly love. She needs you now more than ever as her biggest cheerleader, especially if things are getting difficult on her journey towards marriage and life. Urmilla is the best example; she stood for Jyoti in her times of struggle inspite of her background story of struggle.


Though we have achieved success in various spheres of life, the dark areas of humanism do exist even in modern days as of now.


Time to work on such aspects of society which improves the standard of living for all and not just few.