By Oxfam India:
If there is one thing that I desperately want to undo in my life, it is my husband’s suicide. A college teacher, my husband Rambandhu Sahay, was driven to the extreme step as he could not resolve a bizarre situation in our family. He was a gentle, mild man, who could not digest the fact that his own father coveted his wife and refused to listen to all his pleas.
I think the suicide was very unnecessary. We could have sought help together, the way I am doing alone now. And we could have led a peaceful life on our own. But, it was not to be.
I am a 33-year-old graduate. We got married in 1998 and we were very much in love. Four years into the marriage, our life was like a song, except for my lecherous father-in-law. He turned a deaf ear to my husband’s pleas and started asking for a tryst with me. Unable to take the pressure, Rambandhu committed suicide leaving me alone with my little son.
My mother-in-law also constantly harassed me and when their son died, they held the boy and threw me out. I lodged a police complaint and got him back. Then began a series of fights; I was seeking for a residence as well as property rights for my only son.
The police station asked me to get a court order and I got an order, naming me as the custodian of the five acres of land my in-laws owned, on behalf of my minor son. But even then my in-laws were adamant and refused to let me in. At one time, when I was at my parents’ place, my in-laws harvested and sold the crop from the five acres and refused to give me the money. Then I decided that I needed to fight for my son’s rights.
My case was referred to the Women Support Centre run by FARR from the Shakti Cell in the Kalahandi District Collector’s Office. The WSC gave me new hope. When I came here, it was clear to me that I could get justice. The sheer thoroughness and care with which the staff here listened and understood my problem assured me.
The Support Centre then swung into action and filed a residence petition on my behalf. They sent summons to my father-in-law, who did not turn up on the set date. Then the team went to his house and drove home the point that he cannot play games with the future of his daughter-in-law and his grandson.
It was a miraculous breakthrough. He meekly accepted whatever the team told him to do. And there was clear agreement that the five acres of land and the income thereof will belong to my son. The only pity is I can never get back my husband. If only I showed some initiative when we first faced harassment from my father-in-law and came to the support centre, it could have saved his life.
I now want to complete my education and find a job as a teacher. Interacting with the team here has taught me so many skills. Once I settle down, I want to work with them in offering assistance to the innumerable women like me.