I am Arpana (name changed), a 17 year old girl studying in Grade eight in a public school in Kathmandu. I was born in an economically poor family of a marginalized community in a remote area of Nepal. My story started when my father left my mother and got married to another woman. At that time, I was three and my brother, Arpan, was two. My mother also got married to another man in the same year and left us with our grandparents in the village. We were completely unaware about the incident at that time and we faced further misery in our life because of the absence of both of our parents.
Our grandparents started pressurizing my father and asked him to stay and take better care of us. They also questioned him for his negligence as a father and for depriving his children of parental care, love and affection. Shortly, we started living with my father, our stepmother and step-brother in a rented flat (one bed-room and one kitchen) of Kathmandu. After a while, my stepmother gave birth to a baby and I was held responsible for the care of the new born baby.
My father and stepmother both used to go to work and left us with an uncle, who stayed with us. But, in their absence, the uncle started sexually abusing me while pretending to cradle me like a baby. But, in their absence, the uncle started sexually abusing me while pretending to cradle me like a baby. He even threatened me to kill all three of my younger siblings if I was to disclose anything to others. I did not have a choice other than giving in to fulfill his sexual desires for about a year.
I could never share my problems with my parents and I started experiencing depression. One day, when I was sitting alone, I saw a shawl lying on the bed and thought of committing suicide to escape that hell forever. But, suddenly my younger brother entered the room and I forsook my attempt.
Then after one month, I was in the landlord’s kitchen on the top floor. I climbed on the dining table in the kitchen thinking to hang myself by the ceiling. As I was about to jump from the table, I heard someone’s footsteps coming towards the kitchen. This made me change my mind.
Finally, the day came when the perpetrator was no longer living with us. My father asked him to return back to the village as he could not get any job in Kathmandu even after a year. I started school but, my father could not earn enough money to sustain ourselves in Kathmandu. So, all of us had to return to our village.
I was in class four when my stepmother gave birth to another baby. So, I started taking care of four younger siblings and got engaged in household chores, which ultimately hampered my regular classes.
One day, I could no longer tolerate the situation at home; I was frustrated and climbed up on the tree near my house. I fixed the rope on one of its branches and was ready to hang myself from the tree and free myself from the atrocities forever. Suddenly, a chain of thoughts started occurring in my mind and I realized that there are many girls like me who undergo similar difficulties. An inner voice told me to be bold and courageous. That was the moment I decided to rebel against all of the things wrong in my life. And this moment changed my life completely. I realized that it was not right to run away from my difficulties.
Henceforth, I never thought of ending my life and became ready to accept all kinds of challenges. My grandparents heard about the situation and asked my mother to be more responsible. She brought me and my brother Arpan to Kathmandu when I was about 11 years old. We stayed there for about one week with our step-father in a rented room.
Our father did not want to keep me and my brother with him in Kathmandu because he could not afford it. This created stress between him and my mother. My poor mother had two alternatives: either to stay with us or to stay with her husband. She preferred to stay with her husband rather than keeping us with her. She asked me to work as a housemaid, and in return I could study in a public school.
I, with a heavy heart, accepted her suggestion and left the house to start working as a domestic-worker. My brother, on the other hand, went to the village to our grandparents’ home as he was the ‘rightful heir’ to the ancestral property. My work was very difficult and I could not work for more than three years in that house. I went back to my mother and shared all my hardships and told her that I wanted to leave that place. My mother then searched and managed another place for me to work.
I now work for a new family and they have admitted me in Grade VI in another school. I’m satisfied with my work here and I also attend school regularly. I have also joined an art training class which is organized by Children and Women in Social Service and Human Rights (CWISH). I’m getting stronger every day. The meaning of life has changed for me and I now look at life in an optimistic way. I’m eager to see what the future beholds for me.
The story is based on real life events as told to the author. Krishna is currently working as a team leader in CWISH.