Jane Wilson-Howarth

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My life

Sunday, 20 January 2019
Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if we hadn’t done that thing. We knew nothing then. I was beautiful – I still am – and I teased him. Made him notice me. I loved the power it gave me over him. Drove him mad. He was tall, and handsome – he still is – and we were very, very young.
Was it so strange that we should lie together, enjoy each other not fully understanding the power of love, and lust?
But after we had done that thing, I felt changes in my body and realised there was a baby growing inside me. I was too scared to tell anyone at first. Then when I did tell him, he was useless. He said it was my fault. We argued. He shouted. He hit me. It turned out that he wasn’t as clever as I’d thought, or as kind.
He drank a lot the month he found out, but finally he said we should marry. Things were all right between us after that, mostly. Secretly I think he was proud when our daughter was born. He loves her.
My husband does building work. There is plenty to do here in the Valley but he is lazy. He would rather stay inside the house and play with our daughter. Not that we have a house.
At first we were living in my father’s house but it was difficult. He is also very much in love with our daughter; when they are together she laughs endlessly but there was no room for all of us in his house.
My father is not very clever but he is a good plumber and he makes good money. No-one minds about his caste here. There is so much building work going on in Kathmandu they can’t mind. That is something good about living in the city. In the village everyone knows.
Through his work he met Uncle who owns houses that he rents to foreigners for a lot of money. My father and Uncle spoke together and arranged that I should open the gate for the foreigners in one of his big houses. My father rearranged the plumbing inside a small house in the garden of the big house so we could stay there. It is a good-sized room – enough for a bed, a stove and a chair and there is a bathroom too. Water doesn’t come inside during the Rains. I open the big gate for the foreigners and they pay me 10,000 rupees a month.
Sometimes when the foreign woman goes out, I also go out but a few times the Madam has come back and found I was not there to open the gate. Madam seemed angry. The didi who works inside the house won’t lie for me. I do not understand why there is a problem.
Madam is stupid. She can hardly speak a work of Nepali and when she speaks I do not understand her. She talks about bicycles and thieves a lot. But I don’t care. Maybe she is a bit soft in the head. It is good for the three of us to have our own place and the money the foreigners give me means I can buy nice clothes. They even gave me a Desain bonus of a whole month’s pay but I didn’t tell my husband. It is easy to keep things from him.
The foreigners who pay me are very rich. They wear beautiful clothes bought overseas. At first Madam gave me money to go out and by vegetables and small things for her. I kept some of the money for myself. The woman seemed stupid but she was clever about money and she stopped sending me shopping.
Some days my sister-in-law brings her daughter who stays while my sister-in-law works. My daughter and her cousin have fun together but they are very naughty and I shout at them a lot. Sometimes I have to hit them. They make me so angry.
I spend a lot of time alone. It is boring having no adults to talk to but such is life in the city. Maybe we’ll go back to the village one day when we have enough money.
The inside-house-didi and Madam tried to make me work. They said that if I learned how to clean windows nicely and understand how to clean the homes of important people I could get a well-paid job. And Madam would pay me more money. But why should I work? We have enough money as long as my husband don’t stop looking for work like he did a few months ago.
He’d bought a TV and wanted to stay watching it all day. That was until Uncle told him to get out and look for work. ‘Otherwise you will starve,’ he said. Uncle is always busy; maybe that is why he is rich.
Sometimes I am frustrated by my husband’s stupidity. I often wonder what my life would have been like now if I had attracted a cleverer richer man, and of a higher caste than ours: a man who could afford a big apartment with hot running water and I could wear a lot of gold and fine clothes. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if we hadn’t done that thing when I was 15. Maybe by now I would be like Madam with someone to open the gate of my big house. Maybe I would be living in America with my own car and driver.
Sometimes I wonder.
Posted: 20/01/2019 11:39:22 by cmsadmin | with 0 comments
Filed under: caste, early marriage, fiction, Kathmandu, Nepal, unplanned pregnancy, urban life, young mother, young motherhood