True Story 1 – A Tribal Marriage
(Some names have been changed to protect their identity)
Ranjitha was a tribal(adivasi) girl. She lived in Kalkuthipathi(A ‘pathi’ is a small town. 1 pathi houses around 50 adivasi families) on the foothills of the Siruvani hills. She loved living so close to nature. She loved the forest as they worshipped it.
She had faint memories of her mother. Many years ago, she remembered her mother fighting with her father and taking her to school. She had heard from her elder sister Radha that her mother was a very courageous woman. Her father was physically challenged. Both his arms were short and weak and hence he could not do any work. Her mother used to do odd jobs to keep the family running. She used to work in nearby construction sites or collect honey in the forest and sell it. It was a difficult life. There were many times when they would go hungry for many days.
They were 2 daughters in the family. Her father constantly cursed Ranjitha’s mother for giving birth to 2 daughters. As they had no sons, he believed that their God had cursed his family. He did not think that his daughters needed to go to school. But her mother insisted that her daughters be educated. At the places she did odd jobs she saw how education broke the shackles of poverty and helped women lead a better life. She did not want her daughters to suffer the same plight she suffered. But it was a constant struggle for her. As her husband could not get a normal job due to his disability, he took to drinking.
There were constant fights in the house. Yet she was determined that her daughters went to school. She had to fight with her husband every day and ensure she dropped her daughters off in the nearby government school. Like most of her adivasi relatives, her husband too thought that educating daughters was a burden and waste of time and money.
But one day the unthinkable happened. Ranjitha could hardly remember that day as she was a little child. She had just returned from school with her sister. They could not find their mother at home. Their father as usual was drinking alcohol. They checked with their neighbors and found that their mother had gone in the morning to the forest to collect honey. She had been out of work for some time. Hence she told them that she would go to the forest to collect honey. But she was late. She usually came back home by that time.
They kept waiting but there was no sign of their mother. So they persuaded some people they knew to go check on their mother. Their mother was found dead in the forest. It looked like she was bitten by a poisonous snake. In her hand they saw few wild yellow flowers. It was their favorite. Their mother always got them these flowers when she went to the forest. But not anymore. They would never see their mother again. The tears would not stop. The one they loved the most was no longer with them. Their life changed completely after this………...
Rubini was a social worker with Thiru Oli charitable trust. She was on her usual trip to Kalkuthi pathi to check on the various people who needed medical help. She used to make sure they followed the medical advice given by the doctors and took the right medicine at the right time.
That is when she noticed Ranjitha. Ranjitha had just gotten her 12th grade results.
She had scored very well. But she did not seem happy. Rubini had helped Ranjitha prepare for her 12th grade exams. She knew that Ranjitha had lost her mother at a very young age. After that tragic incident, her physically challenged father stopped her sister Radha from going to school. She had become the head of the household at that young age. She started to do construction work and other odd jobs. But Radha had ensured that Ranjitha continued to study because she knew that her mother would have wanted that. Just few years ago Radha’s father married off Radha to a much older person in his tribe. That man was already married. He could hardly see. His eyesight was starting to fail. Someone suggested that marrying a young girl would rid him of the curse and his eyesight would be restored. Radha’s father readily got her married as he did not have to spend on marrying her off to an older person.
But Rubini was not sure what troubled Ranjitha. She seemed so unhappy. Rubini approached Ranjitha. After talking for a while Ranjitha opened up and said that her father wanted to marry her off to an old man just like her elder sister. She said that she had fulfilled her mother’s dream of studying well. But if she marries an older person, she would have to bury all her dreams. She was very disturbed. Rubini consoled her and then set out with a determined mind.
She discussed this with Thiru Oli Trust’s staff. They knew Ranjitha’s father’s mindset well. They started to search for an eligible young man in the surrounding villages. Luckily, they found a young man named Ponnusamy from the surrounding tribal settlement who was interested to marry Ranjitha. They discussed this proposal with Ranjitha’s father and convinced him.
On 7th April 2013 Thiru Oli Charitable Trust Staff conducted the marriage of Ranjitha at their own cost.
Before the wedding day the staff put up the pandal and got all the things ready for the marriage.
On 7th April:
At 6 am they got the bride and the bridegroom ready.
At 7:30 am the marriage was solemnized.
At 9 am Food was served for everyone.
They also gifted the couple with small vessels to help setup the new household. They also gave some monetary help to the couple. Most importantly the team counseled the couple about married life.
Ranjitha’s has begun her new life filled with hope. She feels that in some way her mother’s soul would rest in peace as she has been able to fulfill her dream.
Independence Day Celebration
Event: Independence Day Celebration
Date: 15th August, 2012
Venue: Kalkuttipatti (a tribal settlement), Siruvani main road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.Read More
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