Krishna, RAMU karyakarta
village Jodgadh, Panchayat Shivpur, Block Kareda, District Bhilwara
"Now I am 19 years and just finished my exams. I have three sisters and two brothers and working for the Union for the last seven months. I work for a group of labourers who have unionized to work in NREGA. They are so happy with the work with the concerted effort to implement 'full work full wages'. One or the other asks me every day to come to their village and train them to look for the online muster rolls and updates on the schemes. These are the moments that gives me purpose, satisfaction and inner peace. I would be getting married in some weeks now. I was in a meeting when suddenly my father called to ask if everything was going fine but I sensed something and asked what's the matter. He informed me that he's looking for someone to get me married but it's not fixed yet. I thought they will take time, like a year but I came to know that I am getting married in the next two months. I was so angry and disappointed that I didn't eat for three days. I haven't yet talked to the boy for once. I am getting married on 4th June. But, I have a meeting with the labourers in three villages that day. I will complete the meetings in the morning and get married in the evening. I want to stay with my parents after I get married to study more. My husband might not understand and approve of my work, but something might change in the next two years in a positive way."
"I cancelled my own marriage just three days before I was supposed to get married. I had to fight so hard for it. His aunt shouted at me and insulted my father in the middle of the market because I asked for a payal which was costly than the one they were offering. I was sold to this family at an early age for Rs. 50,000. My father never used that money on himself but kept it aside to spend on my wedding. The boy I was marrying is not good. Even though he runs a photography shop, I got to know from my friends that he drinks a lot. His family hid it from me. I tried talking to him after managing his phone number from someone when I got to know about him, just so you know, to know him better, talk to him if I can work even after getting married. He talked to me twice and blocked me the third time. I let that go. His family not only asked me to stop working after getting married but also threatened to not go out of home after marriage. This is just unacceptable. With all this, how can I get married to that house. What if the second day they beat me to death and no one will ever know. I just said straight 'nahi karni muje shaadi'. It became a question of their respect in society and they kept on insisting, but look at their audacity that they never said sorry. There will be meetings with the elders of the village and they will decide. I am a Dalit and I started having Dalits in charge of water in NREGA sites. The women from rawat community were hesitant. I told them that is the system. If you want to drink water you can bring your own pitcher of water. Earlier they used to carry, but now with the weight of pick axe and spade they don't want to add on the weight and drink from site's pitcher. I am just so happy now."
Background: A 19 year old Dalit girl, in a family of eight, surviving on an income from masonry and seasonal farming, in a village where the connectivity stalls after 6PM.
written by Tamalika Bera