“I should have been 9-10 years old when I first got married in Dallayni, under Chirang district in Bhutan. I don’t recall much from my wedding day. I vividly recall though that I was scared. I did not know what marriage meant then. I wanted to continue to stay at my parents’ house. My first husband was from a big family. We lived together for 6-7 years before I eloped with another man, my current husband. My mother started disliking my first husband after we were a few years into our marriage. I think my mother knew that I was working too hard to take care of chores, even those that I was not capable of doing it, at my husband’s house. My mother-in-law made me work too hard at such a young age. I used to be frustrated at times. I would share my stories of struggle with my own mother. One time my mother told me that I should leave my first husband because she had found another man for me. I was 15-16 years old by then. One fine day, I left my first husband and came home. My mother took me to the house of another man. As soon we got to his (my current husband) house, I proposed to him that I would marry him and that I wouldn’t leave his house until he would accept me. With an open arm, he accepted me. He was not married. And now guess what? We’ve 13 children together; We are a happy couple.”
Januka Darjee, 76, is originally from Chirang, Bhutan and based in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time when this story was compiled.
Story and Photo compilation by TP Mishra for BNS