Peasant Autonomy
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Story 160

A village in Rajasthan, India – 2015

'Let me leave'

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Axel Drainville)

Rajasthan, India.

“Don't think that you are at home,” Rani says harshly to Janaki, “get to work, then you are perhaps a bit useful.” Rani is furious with Janaki, a fifteen-year old girl, the newly arrived bride of her son Gulab, who is the same age.
Janaki has deceived her. During the negotiations, she looked so beautiful: big, deep brown eyes, a full round face and splendid long hair. Rani was delighted. Gulab would be very happy with such a handsome bride, and she herself as well for having a daughter-in-law at home. Her life would become easier, and Janaki would give her a grandson.
But, just before the wedding Janaki had cut her hair. When her bridal veil slipped down accidentally, she proved to be very bad-looking. Everyone in the village spoke about it. Janaki said that she had had lice and that cutting her hair was the only thing she could do.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Tomas Belcik)

Rajasthan, India.

Gulab didn't know how to react. His friends laughed at him. Often he was drunk, and mistreated Janaki. “That is what she deserves,” Rani thought resentfully. But when she heard Janaki cry and beg for mercy, when she heard the blows and abuses of her drunken son, she remembered her husband. How he had mistreated her time and time again.
When Gulab beat and insulted Janaki for the hundredth time, she could not bear it any longer. She stepped into the room of the recently married couple and gripped Gulab roughly by his shoulders. “She is your wife, not just a whore,” she shouted. Gulab was first surprised and then furious. He staggered out of the hut, and went to his friends.

Rani tended to the injuries of Janaki. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Janaki also had to weep. “I did cut my hair myself, because I didn't want to marry Gulab, but a guy from my own village, my best friend, such a sweet boy.” The words come out shakily. “I thought that my parents would cancel the marriage, when my hair was cut. But they just carried on with it. I think they wanted to get rid of me. Let me leave. My friend will look for some work in Mumbai. Together we will manage. Please, let me leave. Gulab doesn't love me.”
Rani doesn't know what to say. She will discuss the issue with her best friends at length. A solution has to be found. So many wives are mistreated by their husbands.


The movie Parched (2015) made by the Indian director Leena Yadav raises the issue of violence against women, and women’s firm solidarity.

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= the next page: Smoke and ash – Colombia – 2015, story 161.
= the Table of contents, story 160.