In her own words. One woman’s life, and what a lesson it is for us all.
“I am not sure of my exact year of birth but I think I should be around 66 or 67 years old.
I was born around here, near Dharamsala, and lost my mother as a child, I was raised by my stepmother. Later I was married at the age of 15. I lost my husband at the age of 24, to some unknown sickness due to stomach pain.
I moved back to Dharamsala from my inlaws place after the death of my husband as I faced a lot of problems and was not wanted there. I sold off whatever little farmland I had and I bought a small piece of land and built a mud hut in Gamru village (quite close to Mona, the doll makers studio) as till I was 24 I could work on the farm but after my husbands death it became difficult to farm, tend to cattle and take care of the girls as I had my three daughters alone.
I now have two cemented rooms added to the mud -house which I rent to Tibetan refugees for a monthly rent of 2,000 Rs each (about £20 ). Over that, I make money from working at Dolls for Tibet and knitting dolls clothes which gives me enough money to survive and to have a peaceful life.
Earlier I used to work part-time at other peoples houses as a cleaner and a maid, but now I am unable to do heavy work so I quit that.
My life so far has been all right (her eyes tear up when she begins speaking about her life’s experience). I earned some on my own and God gave me the rest.
I managed to educate my three daughters, the eldest one I could only educate till 5th grade, the middle one till 12th grade and the youngest till her graduation. I got all of them married they all live in other towns and cities and we meet sometimes.
I tell them and all others to…
“Do well, don’t lie, work with honesty and courage. Don’t bad mouth others”
There are always tough and trying times and we must overcome them. No one can be there for you at all times, when there is trouble then only you yourself have to live through it. And we must have faith in god. As when things are good family, friends and everyone is around, when things go wrong no one wishes to be around. I have seen this in my own life.
By keeping myself busy knitting for Dolls for Tibet and earning money I pass my time, I feel better doing this rather than sitting at home and doing nothing. Sometimes I think that I find life difficult now, whereas earlier I had no time to think. I woke up before sunrise, I tended to cattle, I cooked for my children, sent them to school, worked on the farm. Milk the cows, sell the milk to earn money, take the cows out to graze, cut firewood before dark to cook the meals on, Take care of my daughters.
Now I am alone and my mind wanders, as I don’t have much to do, so I think a lot.”
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. 2016.
My thanks to Abhishek Madhukar, Journalist and film-maker, for conducting this interview and providing the translation.
You can see some of Abhishek’s work here…