Childhood

I was nine that year
One day with tears in her eyes
My mother told me “Tomorrow
you have to go to another house”
I asked mother why
“Because father and mother cannot feed all of you”
The next day a middle-aged woman came My mother told me to go with her
I tried to run away, the woman
caught me by my wrist and pulled me away
I turned to look at mother
Mother had gone inside the house The doors were shut
After a very long walk
The woman took me to a house
A boy came out of the house “This is your husband”
Inside the house there were two other boys
“They are your brothers-in-law”
Every day I fetched water Collected firewood, helped to cook
Served the boys food
Whenever there’s something wrong
My mother-in-law cursed me
Sometimes I was beaten with the firewood
The boys were not much better Slapping and scolding were common Whenever I was a bit slow
At the age of 13
My mother-in-law told me
“Now you’re old enough to be a wife You’re to sleep with my eldest son!”

by Sunjo (Nepal)

* Child marriage still takes place in many parts of South Asia.

From Tackling New Challenges: Women in Action. Asian and Pacific Experiences. Asian Cultural Forum on Development, PO Box 26, Bungthonglang, Bangkok 10242, Thailand.