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NEPAL: My Grandmother's Endurance is My Inspiration

Sharmiladhungana
Posted December 29, 2016 from Nepal

Sharmila's grandmother was married at age 12. Despite a life of hardship, she exemplifies generosity and loving kindness.

“I often wonder, how can a woman so deprived of love throughout her lifehave so much love to give to others?

I dig my face deep into his shirt, trying to pick up even the faintest scent of my grandfather. No matter how hard I try, all I can smell is fresh detergent. My grandmother must have washed it while he was sick; she always did everything for him. She washed him; she fed him; she clothed him.

“You have a life full of sorrow to look forward toKancha; this woman will give you nothing but sorrows.”

This was one of the first things my grandfather’s mother said when my grandparents married.Not once, not twice, but on repeat, over and over throughout the years.

Little did my great grandmother know that sorrow was the last thing my grandmother would give to my grandfather. In the past few years, as my grandfather’s health deteriorated steadily, I have been a close observer of how my grandmother’s life revolved completely around the needs of her husband. A close relative’s wedding? Missed. A trip to the temple she really wanted to visit? Never happened. She sat by his side for hours on end and stayed awake for nights when he was ailing; she gave her all to take care of him.

My grandmother lost her mother when she was just 2 years old. After that, her father remarried multiple times. Each of his wives died in childbirth or due to illnesses that they had neither the resources nor the knowledge to combat. My grandmother, then, had multiple stepmothers and had no choice but to grow up under their supervision.

Her life was a Cinderella story. Just like fairy tale character, she felt unattended and uncared for by her mother figures. And a prince did arrive in her life. However, unlike Cinderella, he didn’t promise a happily ever after. Instead, he brought misery and darkness with him.

Twelve, that tender age when girls just begin to discover the shine in their eyes and the rose in their cheeks, was my grandmother’s age when she had to marry my grandfather.

At such a young age, she was forced to do an enormous amount of housework. Day in and day out, the tasks never stopped. Cook for the family; get fodder for the cattle; fetch water from a faraway tap; collect firewood from the forest; go to the fields to plant seasonal grains—she toiled more than what her tender feet and hands could muster.

The grandmother I know, however, is not a woman who is bitter and broken by years of mistreatment. Her eyes are deep set and kind. When you rest your head on her lap, she will gently caress the strands of your hair. She exudes heaps of love, warmth, and kindness.

I don’t know her as a woman who was lashed by her stepmother for the tiniest mistakes, or the woman who was treated like gum on a bottom of a shoe by her in laws. I know her as the woman who dropped me off at school every day and waited hours until school got out to pick me up. She is the woman I ran to when I was scolded by my mother, a woman who always saw the beauty in me, and who made me feel loved and cared for. She is a woman who, with strength and endurance, held the household together and raised her five children with nothing but love.

I often wonder, how can a woman so deprived of love throughout her lifehave so much love to give to others?

I do not know whether time has healed my grandmother’s wounds, or if they are still raw and vivid in her heart. Life gave her a fair share of hardships, but she has refused to let her heart wither under their strain. She is a teacher of love, care, and kindness.

My life has been very easy compared to hers. I didn’t have to fall asleep next to the grinder while preparing kilos of rice. I didn’t have to walk hours to the forest to fetch wood. I wasn’t forced into marriage at age twelve. Knowing about her life has instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude for all the comforts that have been bestowed upon me. Knowing her has made me greatly value the opportunities I have been given.

Every day, I hear her soft voice in the back of my head nudging me to be more kind, more giving, more caring, and more grateful.

“Make sure your actions never hurt anyone,” she always said.

Comments 11

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Carol Sunborn
Dec 29, 2016
Dec 29, 2016

Thank you, Sharmila, for your story of your grandmother. I can feel what an inspiration she is to you to live a grateful, caring and kind life. Now your words inspire me to think about her lessons too. 

Sharmiladhungana
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Thank you so much! 

WorldCare
Dec 31, 2016
Dec 31, 2016

Hello Sharmila, I find it interesting to read the story of your grandmother. Though she suffered a great deal and was selfless, you have gleaned the good from her story, her faithfulness and her kindness. Let's hope that more women can develop those strong characteristics, at the same time receiving their due rights. You have written this so well. Thank you for this story. I wish you the best as you travel your own journey.

Sharmiladhungana
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Thank you for your great feedback!

Jan 01, 2017
Jan 01, 2017
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
LillianVB
Jan 01, 2017
Jan 01, 2017

Hi Sharmila,

An interesting story to read, I can tell from the tone and choice of words the level of emotion , admiration and love you have for your grandmother. I know you must have shared this with her several times, continuing to let her know what a phenomenal woman she is, is a great thing to nourish her soul, the kind of inspiration that will uplift her spirit. Even those who look very strong and resilient , need positive reinforcement and acknowledgement for their nourishment. 

Thanks for sharing your story - interesting and inspiring 

MKOne
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us - the quotes you have kindly included are so inspiring and thought-provoking!

PilarAlbisu
Jan 03, 2017
Jan 03, 2017

"Life gave her a fair share of hardships, but she has refused to let her heart wither under their strain. She is a teacher of love, care, and kindness."

What an inspiration to us all! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and for reminding me that there is always a reason to keep loving life and those around us. Just by reading your piece, I get the distinct sense that you have more of your grandmother in you than you suspect! Thanks again for sharing!

All the best,

Pilar

WorldCare
Jan 03, 2017
Jan 03, 2017

You're welcome Sharmila. I wish you all success as you continue to work for women's rights in your own way, and growing in your own life. Happy New Year!

blanch1981
Jan 03, 2017
Jan 03, 2017

Thank you for sharing your story. Stories indeed would help shape our views and perspectives. Happy New Year Sharmila!

jacqueline.s
Jan 06, 2017
Jan 06, 2017

Hi Sharmila,

You have beautifully conveyed a raw and loving tale of your grandmother. There is much to value in this story about the intricacies in life that your grandmother entailed that will inspire many far and wide. Thank you for sharing and happy new year. :)