Manga’s heart writhed with pain to see her neighbor Tara brutally beaten by her husband. Violence was a routine affair for Tara hailing from Narvaliya village, Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. Everyday her husband Kasana would come home in inebriated state and torture her.The physical abuse not only left scars on Tara’s body but the pain penetrated further to her soul, numbing her from inside and wiping the very desire for living.
Days when Tara and Manga would go together to fetch water for the household chores, the former would confide on her neighbor about her miseries. Manga would soothe Tara with her comforting words and assured her that things will get better in the near future though in reality Tara’s anguish was getting compounded with each passing day.
Manga genuinely wanted to help Tara come out of her despicable condition. When she came to know about IGSSS working on varied issues concerning women and also conducting functional and legal literacy classes in their village, she encouraged Tara to attend the literacy classes along with her.
The literacy classes were like a fresh whiff of air for Tara; besides learning basic reading and numeracy skills, she also got a platform to interact with other fellow women of her village. She could see other women grappling with numerous problems in their lives and yet taking efforts to continue with their education. This infused courage in her and despite her husband’s obstruction, she continued to attend the literacy classes.
Kasana was furious to see Tara sidestepping his orders and continuing with the literacy classes and one day in a drunken state he came to the literacy classes and misbehaved with all the women attending the classes and forcibly took Tara home. The women folk however were not frightened by this incident and the very next day they went to Tara’s house to counsel Kasana against the habit of drinking. They told him that if instead of splurging his income on alcohol consumption, he spends them judiciously on buying nutritious food for himself and his family and invests on his children’s education, this would not only help in keeping them healthy and fit, lessen quarrels in the family and further education will create doors of opportunities and growth for his children and will positively impact his life. They also cited the examples of a few men in the village who died due to alcohol consumption. The words of the women had a positive influence on Kasana; he promised to give up alcohol and also allowed Tara to attend the literacy classes.
Things remained fine for a few days but Kasana again resorted to drinking and soon he started falling regularly sick. The women from the literacy classes again went to caution Kasana against the ill effects of drinking; they shared that the harmful effects of drinking were already showing on Kasana’s health and if he continues to drink he would soon succumb to a life – threatening disease. The words finally struck a chord with Kasana and he gave up alcohol and tobacco for good. Gradually, he started engaging himself in the household activities and shouldering the family’s responsibility. He also started taking keen interest in his wife’s education.
One day when Tara and Kasana went to the local market to sell their crops, the shopkeeper started weighing the yield in electronic machine. Assuming that the couple were illiterate, the shopkeeper tried to trick them and mentioned inaccurate measure for their weigh. Thanks to the literacy classes, Tara was now aware of the numbers and she could read through the deceit of the shopkeeper. She asked him to weigh again and pointed out to the shopkeeper the accurate reading of her yield and told him that she will take due action against him for giving them lower than the actual prices of their yield. The shopkeeper was caught red handed and he had no option but to give Tara and her husband the fair price for their yield. This incident left an indelible impression in Kasana’s mind and he realized the true worth of education. He now started helping Tara with her household chores so that she could regularly attend her classes and he went a step further and readmitted their daughter to sixth standard, who was earlier a school dropout. Kasana now takes special attention to ensure that no hurdle comes in the way of his children’s education and they continue to pursue their quest for higher education.
Tara’s life has changed for good; she has now become a member of the Self Help Group (SHG) in the village. With loan assistance from the SHG she has set up a provisional store which is running quite well. The income generated from the store has also helped Kasana to set up a poultry business of her own. Literacy not only helped Tara understanding her self – worth and turning a new leaf but she also translated her learnings to her family members which equally helped them to find their inner light and carve a path of hope for the entire family.
Written By – Mr.Prashant Thorat, Project Coordinator, Gender Programme, Jhabua