Saturday, January 30

The First Interview

She's always cracking a joke. Most of them are dirty jokes, but she always has everyone around her laughing at her bold antics. Now, Mekti is ready for the interview, sitting strong, twisting the tip of her moss green kameez. Her hair is in two short braids with big white ribbons hanging down her back as she leans forward. With her earrings dancing to the steady tone of her voice. She continues looking down at her hands as she shares her story...

Mektis' father had two wives and abandoned her and her mother for the other wife. With no livelihood, she came to Dhaka with her uncle. They lived together but he went abroad to Malaysia then her mother came. Near her house, there was a boy that she loved. They wanted to be married but her mother didn’t agree with it. Eventually, when she was 13, they did get married. Soon, her mother told her: "If you’re married now, then your husband can take care of you." Being kicked out of her house, the new couple rented a new house in the slums of Dhaka. Her husband wasn’t working and Mekti kept pressuring him to get a job. Finally, he thought the best thing was to pull a rickshaw to make some money. When he went to a rickshaw owner to rent, the owner asked that his wife come to also give her word that he would pay rent on this rickshaw. When Mekti went to verify the contract, the owner thought she was very pretty. The owner arranged for another man to steal Mekti’s husband’s rickshaw. Because he hadn’t been working, the couple, both accountable, did not have enough money to pay off their new debt to the rickshaw owner. The owner then bartered: “If you can’t give money for the stolen rickshaw, then you can give your wife’s body as payment?” Her husband made a decision. They had no food, and were now in debt. In the interview, Mekti said, “What could he do?”

For the first few days, the rickshaw owner came alone to her house to use her body for his sick sexual pleasure. Soon after, he began to bring other men with him, two or three people at a time, “torturing” her. It was an extreme struggle and pressure for her having men come in and out of her home, abusing her entire self: mind, body and spirit. “I was young,” she said, now at the age of 18. “I felt death upon me when they came.”

She tried to stand up, not agreeing to perform this role. Her husband began to beat her, and tell the neighbors a false story to justify the bruises. By watching the money the rickshaw owner was making off of the additional men her brought to exploit his wife, Mekti’s husband became interested in selling her himself. He began doing business by her, now making money that was fully spent on heroin.

Eventually, Mekti’s mother heard about what was happening to Mekti, offering to take her back home and marry her off to a better man. Mekti at first refused, feeling that he would gain some sense soon. After more days and weeks of men coming to her home, abusing her, then watching her husband spend all the money on drugs, Mekti saw that he was getting more money this way and would not let up.

For some time, her husband left Dhaka so Mekti stayed in her mother’s home for four months. Upon her husband’s arrival back to Dhaka, he refused the divorce that Mekti and her mother were demanding, even offering to pay for the whole annulment. Finally, he gave in and Mekti received her divorce from the District Office for 2000tk.

Living with her mother after the whole incident, neither Mekti or her mother knew what to do next. With no education and a complete loss of self, she was 16 with no life options. Finally, her mother contacted a staff worker at the centre, wondering what she could do. Going to the office, Mekti told her story and they agreed to help her. She began taking vocational classes, learning how to sew. While she was working, another man, Dulal, took an interest in her. A hotel worker, Dulal agreed to marry her as long as she didn’t do work outside again. In the interview, she grinned and took a picture of him out of her wallet to flaunt. Her husband is very careful and she needs to ask permission to go anywhere out of protection. He knows everything about her life, from her past to her every day activities. Because he is from Syllet, after her training is finished, they will move back there. She said that this office gave her life light and feels that she will live a good life from here on out.

Please read soon on my first analysis of her life.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing story of courage. There are so many people who can't get themselves out of these situations, but to hear stories of this kind, will probably help someone, ergo "Pay it forward". We all have that ability, but only a few take the steps to actually do it. Getting your stories out, Amanda, will help so many. You'll never know who or how many but you will. Don't ever get discouraged. Love Mommy