Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Light

For blog month this week we were told to choose a picture from Compassion and tell the story.  I'm choosing to let the subject of the picture tell her own story.

My name is Diya.  I am 19 years old.  This is my story:

I was born in a Mumbai slum, the oldest of three daughters.  My mother chose my name, which means 'light', because I was born just as the sun was rising over the horizon and she hoped this would be a sign of good fortunes for my future.  Even my father, who prayed for months that I would be a boy, was hopeful that I would have good fortunes.  

My early years were happy and innocent.  My father worked in a factory.  He did not make much money and labored long hours but he was young and strong so he did not mind.  To make some extra money, my mother worked as a servant in a wealthy family's home.  While my parents were working, I stayed with my aunt and her kids.  We played as all children play, running through the streets and making toys out of anything we could find.  

When I was three my first sister was born.  Everyone predicted that my mother would have a son this time, and my father was upset when the baby was another girl.  After baby Avani was born, my father disappeared for a week.  When he came back, he smelled of sweet smoke and alcohol.  My mother knew he had been using drugs and prayed to the gods to protect him and our family.  After that, he remained faithful to us and life went back to normal.  I was young and innocent and did not understand the stress my parents were under.

Six months later my mother became pregnant again.  However, she fell down a flight of stairs while carrying water up to the apartment of her employer and the baby did not make it.  My mother mourned the baby's loss and my father was irate at her for losing it as he was sure this had been the son he was awaiting.  Again he left us for awhile and came back with a smokey aroma surrounding him.  But, this time he did not stop using.  

After a few months, my father was spending most of his pay to buy opium.  He would disappear for days with no word.  But, many times this was preferable as when he was home he would get angry over any little thing.  A few times he even hit my mother.  She never let him touch me and my sister though.  

We lived like this for three years until my youngest sister was born.  My mother prayed everyday to our family's protectorate gods that they would make the child a boy, hoping that would bring back my father to his old self.  When she saw that the baby was a girl, my mother weeped.  She named the child Shreya, 'auspicious', because she knew that bad fortune had overtaken our household.  When my father heard the news, he stormed out of the house.  We never saw him again.

My mother tried to stay strong for my sisters and I but I saw how she cried at night.  She could not afford for us to stay in our humble home on her income alone; she did well to find food for us every day.  Thankfully, her brother allowed us to move in with he and his family.  He and his wife had five children of their own so altogether there were eleven of us living in a two room shack.  My mother did everything she could to make sure we were not a burden, but even so my aunt was often cruel to us when my uncle was not around.  

When I was nine, I began to work with my mother.  The mistress of the house had just had a baby and it was my job to care for him.  I was used to caring for my little sisters so this was second nature to me.  I enjoyed this job very much.  I got to see my mother more than ever and working in such a beautiful place was an adventure for me.  As the child grew up, I became his caretaker.  His mother was kind to me and appreciated how much I doted on her son.

When I turned fourteen, upon the insistence of my aunt, my uncle began to search for a suitable husband for me.  Soon he found a distant cousin who was willing to marry me.  My cousin, Darsh, was thirty at the time.  He lived in another section of town and I had never met him before.  We married just before my 15th birthday.  I was very apprehensive about leaving my home, especially leaving my sisters there alone with my aunt.  

I was lucky though, my husband is kind to me.  He works in a factory nearby.  I found a new job working as a servant in an old widow's house.  She was very harsh with me and never liked what I did, but we needed the income.  A few months after we were married, I became pregnant.  My husband rejoiced and immediately began to pray for a son.  This made me worry about my future; I could only pray that my fate would be better than my mother's and that I would give birth to a son.  

I was not so lucky.  In the spring my daughter, Muskhan, was born.  I was so worried about my husband's reaction that I tried to keep the child from him.  He was very kind to her though; he is a good man.  Although I know that he would like a son, Darsh genuinely adores his daughter and is a good father to her.  

Several months ago, our neighbor, whom I have become close friends with, told me about a program in our community for poor kids.  She was taking her son the following week to be registered and invited me to bring Muskhan as well.  I told Darsh what she said and he agreed we could use the help but worried that the project was located at a Christian church.  We are a good Hindu family.  We decided to see what the program was anyway.  

I walked with Muskhan and our neighbors to the project on Saturday.  There were many children there playing outside and studying in classrooms.  I never got to go to school as a child and could only dream of such a thing for my daughter.  As I talked with the project workers, I knew that this would be a good place for my daughter and for my family.  We would not be asked to change our religion, although Muskhan would be taught about the Christian God.  I was happy to enroll my daughter in this place where she could have a better future than me.

Although my daily life still has struggles, I have been thrilled with the new community of friends that both I and my daughter have made at the Compassion center.  She is learning new things every day and my husband and I are also learning new ways to be good parents.  Best of all, Muskhan has started school; she will have a future worlds better than I could have dreamed of as a child.  She is receiving the good fortune that my mother predicted when I was born.  This is thanks to Compassion International.

This is my daughter, Muskhan.  You can sponsor her today and help make a difference in her life.

4 comments:

  1. love this story! Your writing is so creative!

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  2. What a creative story! I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thanks guys! I had fun writing this one.

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