Growing up in a village far away, I simply knew my parents were in Mumbai to earn a living for me and my 3 siblings. What I didn't know until I came as an adult to the city was that my alcoholic, lazy father earned money by forcing his wife to do housework in a prominent Red Light Area of Mumbai. I wasn’t horrified by it; since my mother wasn't involved in that work, but just ensuring there was food on the table. However, my soft hearted mother soon turned to be a hard person and her name became a strong name in the area and a brothel keeper who would bring new, young girls to the market.
‘It was your decision to get married to this man; we never forced you to get married.’ This is what my mother told me when I complained about my abusive and alcoholic husband, by arranged marriage at the age of 13. Both my 4 children and I were beaten up daily by him. "How can a 13 year old girl decide for herself and what she wants on her own; let alone get married to someone much older than her?"
My husband never saw me as his wife who ought to be respected, cherished and loved but instead as his personal property to do with whatever he wished. After four children,a hysterectomy and finding love by chance while visiting my uncle and mother in Bombay; I gained the courage to break societal norms and fall in love.
And that as usual never went well; my husband beat me and my 3 year old son up, my mother kicked me out of the house with my youngest child. in the middle of the night after a rough spat,
I called a Purnata staff, who taught my children during the day.
'Didi, will you help me? I have nowhere to go.'
From there on, it has been nearly 2 years for Nutan. Leaving her job as a house help, and recalling a little bit of her tailoring she learned; she decided she wants to be a tailor.
She initially send her youngest son to a children's home for better care, a year later we got him admitted into a school and hostel facility, where his older brother was also. She got in touch with her daughters and managed to put them in good hostels too. She is in touch with them, calls and meets them thereby developing a relation with them. She is also back in good terms with her mother, brother and husband who had once disowned her. She is building trust and strong foundations of relations yet again. She completed her Training and has joined Amoli as an employee. For a person who right away at the start said she didn't want to do the literacy program and a lot of tailoring, she today encourages the new trainees and is a benchmark for the others.
A quick learner, gifted with her hands, sharp mind when encouraged, with a ready to share a smile and so much of potential; this young mother and woman crushed under the strong foot of patriarchy and gender roles is a rising star.