03 May, 2010

Chandra and her cow.

This is my current idol. Her name is Chandra (Auntie to the kids) and it appears that she runs the place in the physical sense. She cooks and takes care of the animals and always has a smile on her face and tells the kids what to do as well as teases them. She makes sure I have enough to eat and will always make me a cup of tea. I watched her the other day feeding Bessie the cow and as she sat the large metal bowl in front of her she squatted and seemed to be ‘talking’ to her with a smile on her face. She has that same grin when she calls the chickens and roosters to feed; she also has that same grin when she makes me a cup of tea…hmmm…

She loves her photo taken and giggles like a little girl when she asks me to snap a shot. I asked Bhola “what Chandra is” and he thought for a moment and said “Warden” and then said, “No, more like Caretaker, but she also cooks, takes care of the girls area and the animals”…He then said, “She does everything!”. I guess that is why I think she’s so great.

Chandra has had a rough life (typical of so many women in Nepal). She was married off at 14 and was treated badly because her husband was an alcoholic (a surprisingly rampant disease here). Uneducated and single, she didn’t have much choice but to stay in the horrible relationship. Finally she left her husband and started working at HVP school in Dang as a cook. She lived at the school with her son. Before Chandra left her husband, her daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps and was ‘persuaded’ to marry at 14 to a mentally ‘mad’ mad. He beat her and she left him and went back home, only to marry another much older (and already married) man –polygamy is not a common but it still happens. She then left the 2nd husband and came to CPH with her young daughter, Satyata, where Chandra (her mother) was now living/working. The Daughter stayed for a while, but eventually ran off with another guy leaving Satyata here with her grandmother and uncle.

I hear the same story time and time again regarding the situation of women here. They have little rights (or do not know about any they may have) and although it’s socially acceptable for men to leave their wives and remarry women are chastised for doing so. That is the reason so many mothers abandon their children once their husbands leave; in order to remarry, they must rid any past life they may have had. The children are usually left with relatives (as in the case of Satyata) but many times those relative can’t afford another mouth to feed and certainly cannot afford to send them to school and they end up uneducated working as child laborers and marrying young and the vicious cycle continues…

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