Actually this is a story not about me but one of my friends from university days. Back then I was doing masters and used to stay in girls hostel of Tribhuvan University in Kirtipur. There we met as she was also doing her masters. She was so vivacious, chirpy, talkative, smile always on her face, very active and so disciplined. She was very clean and tidy. She made her bed perfectly well. She prayed and remember god before taking meal. This was because all her life she stayed in hostel and followed the rules and regulation that she learned there. She earned her school education from St. Mary's Highschool, one of the prestigious school during that time. When we finished our masters, we got this opportunity to work together as field assistants in Jiri, one of the rural village in Dolakha District. Jiri was also known as Switzerland of Nepal because of its many similarities such as weather, geographical structure and scenic beauty. There we worked together for always 5 months. After that we return back to our own lives. Our meetings and communication became thinner and thinner and finally vanished from each other's life.
Few years ago, one fine day we bumped into each other on my way home. I came to know she also moved in my residential area with her parents. We met almost after fifteen years and cried with joy. But she seemed in a hurry leaving our interesting conversation in the middle and worried that her parents are alone in the house so she need to hurry up. We exchanged our phone numbers and I also invite her to visit my home. I was expecting her call but never got one. Then I called her two or three times. In the phone call she wishpered in her low voice and told me her mother was around and she did not like her talking to people. I could sensed that she was intimidated with her mother. Our phone calls did not continue afterthat. Though I felt something was not right in her life. I did not intrude in her life.
Few months ago, she suddenly came into my mind. I was thinking abut her and the thinking was so intense that I could not stop myself from seeing her and despite her mother's strict rules I decided to see her. I was not sure wether her phone number was still the same or changed. I went near her house and called her and she answered my call. I told her that I want to see her for a minute and asked her to come out from the house. She agreed and she came out with her apron, which clearly showed that she was doing her household chores. When my eyes rest upon her, I could not believe my eyes seeing her lanky body, tiredness in her face, and frizzy hair. In our brief conversation she told me how her own mother ruined her career and future. Her mother manipulated her saying she must look after her as she is growing old day by day ( although she looked not that old). So she should not leave the house for once , captivated in the house and enslave her in the modern day by making her do all the house work. She (mother) did not let her go out instead for grocery shopping near by the house. Whatever job offer came earlier, she was not allowed to do because she needed permission to do job from her mother, and its her mother who decide which job she would do. She (mother) did not like her talking to her friends or any of her friends came to see her. Her mother is the one who controls her mobility, decides for her what to do and what not, and she is living in constant fear of her mother as her father and brother both live in UK. She told me that she had lost all her confidence and could not dare to face people while talking, she was not allowed to go out or do job. She told me that she is suffering from inside and if she continue living like this she would end up herself as mental patient. She also told me that she is making a plan to escape from this house from the clutches of her mother. She want to live her life, she want to laugh again, she want to go out but still she is not sure what she will do when she abandone her home. I convinced her I will help her to build net works, to attend meetings and conference, where many women like her share their stories and experience and empower themselves.
With heavy heart and shocking jolt I returned home with so many questions on my mind. How could your own mother do this to your daughter? How could a Mother, an epitome of love, kindness, self-less, sacrifice for her children and family could be this self-fish to her own daughter ruining her future, instead let her thrive how could she clipped her wings from flying? Again, my friend is also not a child she is an adult woman and how could she not fight back for her rights. Why she always live in constant fear of her mother's tyranny. I questioned repeatedly is this the outcome of traditional culture, where we are taught respect your parents but never question them. Do what your elders ask you to do even its not right but never question.Never raise your voice or speak. Just be mute and keep on doing what you are told. She is subjugated, suppressed and living in oppression because of her patriach mother. How could a privileged, educated, modern woman of this modern era let her dreams die and let her future crumbl down. This is happening to an educated urban woman, who could not raise her voice, who could not defend herself.
I have a challenge too, to help her bring back her confidence until she develops her own Agency to decide for her life. A dignified life where she can live as a human. For many this story might be ordinary but to me it really shook me and my brain and for many days I kept thinking of her.