“I do not remember much of my marriage. I was just seven when my father decided about my marriage. It was the prevailing custom. I did not know what was forthcoming. At the age of playing with mud and sticks and with goats, I and two of my cousins got married. I was born in Goshi. After marriage we were taken to Deurali, a small cluster of houses at higher elevation than Goshi. Even though marriage occurred at seven, I was actually taken to my future home at age 13. It was a matter of shame for us to look at the groom’s face, so I didn’t even know what he looked like. My cousins and I were married to two brothers of the same family. My two cousins married the elder brother and I got married with the younger brother. The marriage occurred on one auspicious night (एउटा लगन) for all three of us. That whole night we were in front of the sacred fire- maybe we got the warmth and played. I vaguely remember that we often got out of Jaggay (जग्गे) and ran to our favorite places. It was only later, maybe a year or two that I knew of his name- Bhagirath. But I still not clearly remembered whether he was called Bhim Prasad or Bhagirath. Forget about looking at the face. When the groom’s family came to us after five years of our marriage, we weren’t prepared to leave our parental home. I think I was towards the end of thirteenth year when I went with my husband to Deurali, his house. And in the future home, life was tough. My mother in-law was famous for her vocal and strict nature. All three of us really underwent that penance of women’s life. Life in Dagana was a drudgery of domestic chores-milling grains, attending to small children, tending cattle, plantation, harvesting, hauling fodder and firewood. Not having knowledge of the conjugal life, without much sharing and knowing each other, my husband died when I was just 24. Mostly he used to live in goth (गोठ) in the forest with a large cattle herd. One day he came home saying ‘I am dying.’ Not knowing what illness caught him, I had no way for treatment except the local shamans. He bled profusely. On the fourth day, he died. And I was left alone with two children, five and three years old and one still in the womb.”
Dikura Dhakal, 88, is originally from Samrang village in Samdrupjongkhar, Bhutan, and based in Louisville, KY at the time when this story was compiled.
Story and photo compilation by Buddha Mani Dhakal for BNS