How Painful to be Orphan, Poor and Woman?

M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

Aasiya Begum, age 29, wife of late Ahadur Rahman Tapadar, a resident of Deorail, Badarpur under Karimganj district of Assam, India has a painful saga of her life to share with the humane world. Her husband, 34 years, was found dead in a sewer-canal on Sunday, the 14th June 2020, as unclaimed and unidentified by the local residents in Badarpur as well as his parents and relatives during the initial days. Later, she had to rush to the hospital from her parental home following a viral photograph on social media with the police assistance to identify the corpse and assist his last rituals at Badarpur.

Aasiya was born in 1990 in a village called Kaknimara under North Karimganj LAC, lost her bedridden and ill father Khalilur Rahman when she was only five years old and she became an orphan at the very young age. She lost her caring mother who was also a long-time TB patient at the age of 19. The twice orphaned– Aasiya had, then, only her unmarried elder sister – Nazma Begum, to live with and spend life with very little means of livelihood. She has a second elder sister- Saleha Begum, who was married just months before her mother’s demised in 2010. Aasiya doesn’t have a brother to take care of or any male member in the family to look after her needs and education except Nazma- an Anganwadi worker, and a few cousin brothers for moral and occasional supports only.

Aasiya was given in marriage to Ahadur Rahman Tapadar, son of Moinuddin Tapadar, a resident of Deorail locality within Badarpur township under Karimganj district in 2013. Ahad was a light vehicle commercial driver to meet his personal bread earnings. However, he was a good looking, physically fit, young man from a known locality and from a family with moderate financial assets in the shape of immovable properties and pakka houses etc. with both parents and elder and younger brothers living sound and healthy in a joint family. These were what Aasiya’s guardians and cousin brothers thought would guarantee a happy and prosperous life for Aasiya in her post marriage struggle. Thus they happily accepted the proposal from Ahad’s father and relatives; and Aasiya was socially given in Ahad’s marriage in 2013.

Alas! The misfortunes never ended here for the orphan, young, poor woman – Aasiya, who could study till class X only! Soon after her marriage, she realised that the man to whom she was married, with whom she dreamt to spend a happy and peaceful life – sharing all joys and sorrows together; was a chronic drunker and a victim of severe alcoholic disorder. His parents, relatives and the middle man – all knew about it. They went far and chose a poor girl without male members in her close family as an experiment to fix their psychologically and morally unfit son. Aasiya felt, as if she was cheated by people in plain clothes in the name of marriage and put to face harsh challenges, yet again, alone under extreme conditions. She took it as destined and without negativity decided to deal with the situation, fulfilling all her duties as a wife, a ‘bahu’ and a woman.

Within a few months after Aasiya’s marriage, the son- Ahad and his father – Moinuddin had several unsettled quarrels in the family. Consequently, the son was ousted from the joint family – rather deserted, who was not able to earn or if earned, used to spend all in his alcoholism. The father has not been polite in the least, instead, he has been a power striker against his strayed son. In the meantime, before the father ousted them – Aasiya and Ahad got their first child in the shape of a beautiful female baby.

Aasiya has no way out but to accompany her husband who decided to settle in a hut adjoining the water-pond in a corner of their parental housing premises. Even the hut land was not officially allotted by the father till date. She again came under extreme hard conditions to cope with all alone. The man used to go out daily but hardly came with anything in hands to feed his wife and child. He used to return unconscious, unfit and violent each day. Beating Aasiya for petty things or want of money was a regular or frequent practice, to say the least. The poor woman had to keep patience, patience and patience. Whosoever, she would share her pains would advice her to be patient and pray to Allah, Who would one day heal him and take care of her. She had passionately done it for 6 years with burns both in her heart and body, with unexplainable pains and tears rolling by each day or night. She got multiple wounds on her poor body because of inhuman assault from a drunken man – her husband, the so called master of her life. They got one more child after 3 years in the hut.

Aasiya would frequently seek money from her elder sister Nazma who virtually was running the family from far, without letting the man know or she would also seek help from some of her cousin brothers who would assist her within their means from time to time. She tried her best to rehabilitate her husband – the father of her children, and sent him to pious religious saints and scholars to seek guidance. She persuaded him hard with love and care and sent him to Tablighi Jamaat for one chilla (40 days). She was happy, and shared it with one of her sisters in law back home narrating about her painful life and said that she was hopeful that her husband would be alright and her nightmares might get over soon, she was full of tears while expressing her feelings then.

Ahadur Rahman returned from Tablighi Jamaat, was looking good in white kurta pyjama and skull cap. Aasiya had happiest days for next 3 months. Her man used to go out for work, returned home early in good state of mind and used to play with the two cute kids they have. Whatever little means of livelihood, Aasiya was happy, first because her husband was loving and second, there was no daily beating or noise sessions at home which used to kill her many a time in a day. These few months were her only filled days since her marriage where mental, emotional and physical onslaughts were not there as daily courses.

Alas! That happiness never lasted long. He got in touch with his previous companions – the driver fraternity in Badarpur and began drinking again. Soon he went back to his previous state of mind – beating, shouting, abusing and demanding for money began a regular issue at her small one roomed hut. At many a times, she was kicked indiscriminately, bleeded severely and blended with all sort of tortures and humiliations. He even tried to strangle her and the babies more than once with no one coming to rescue, neither from the Moinuddin house nor from any neighboring ones, while the little children were crying mercilessly.

One day the man held her neck tight enough to suffocate her and asked her to go to her parental home and return with money by which he wanted to buy an auto rickshaw. When she said who was there to pay as she has no one except a sister who has always been supporting, then he left her and took one of the daughters with warning- either she should go and bring money or he would kill all of them one by one. At that time she was 4/5 month pregnant for the third time.

To save her and her children’s lives, she said, “OK, OK leave us. We are going and would come with money as you said”. From that day it is about nine months and counting that she never dared to return. She has been staying with her sister at her parental home. They both have been managing things without much disturbance. Aasiya gave birth to a baby boy. Ahad and his family was informed but nobody came to see the new-born. However, Ahad visited more than once to meet them or take them back and also repeated his demand for the “promised” money on which the sisters politely persuaded him that money was yet not ready and therefore, Aasiya would not go back.

This was not the first time that she came to her sister and tried to stay away from him. Earlier at one occasion, she was similarly beaten hard and then her cousins and relatives decided that she would stay here and no need to go when she was having a single child then. After few months, some elders and Ahad’s relatives intervened and mediated with assurance from him that physical assault will not happen and he was ashamed of his past. She decided to go and give him more chances. The last time she joined her sister was forced on her without an option.

Aasiya was struggling with her three children – Masumah (5.5 years), Aarifa (3 years) and Zeeshan (6 months) all alone with assistance from her sister – Nazma for around last 9 months. She has been physically safe here though the children were away from their father and with very little means to cope with life.

She saw a viral photograph, some one forwarded from a Facebook post of a dead body, found in a sewer canal in Badarpur which followed by a phone call from the Police to visit Karimganj mortuary for identification of the corpse on Sunday, the 14th June 2020. The next day she did visit the Karimganj Civil Hospital and rightly identified the body of Ahadur Rahman Tapadar son of Moinuddin Tapadar, her husband and a resident of Deorail locality of Badarpur township. The body was swollen and was stinking. Reportedly it was two or three days old and allegedly was a cold blooded murder. Following her identification, the local police called upon Ahad’s father and elder brother again. This time they accepted, the dead person was their own, took the corpse from mortuary and did his last rituals in the evening on Monday, June 15. Aasiya, her children and a few from her parental home including Nazma were present at Deorail during his funeral process at around 9 pm that evening and returned to Kaknimara the same night. Aasiya’s man, the father of her three very young children, has now gone to never return. She has been in pain all through her life and it is continued.

Now the pertinent and obvious questions to the sane society. Why no one from the Deorail locality was able to identify their local man at their local police station? Why Ahad’s father and brothers who were shown the corpse by the police or his relatives and friends were not able to recognize the body which was not fully defaced though swollen? Why the local police took too long in identifying the corpse of a local man? Who and what did kill Ahadur Rahman?

Why Aasiya Begum, the 29 year old woman, poor, parent less and without a male member in the family, with three children to feed and educate and with no aparent means of living, has to bear all the sufferings and hardships? What has been actually her fault! To be a human, forbearing, God-fearing, polite and forgiving? Or to be an orphan, a poor, a woman without muscle and power? What will be the future of these three young children? What or who did spoil their lives at this young age?

Let’s introspect– O all, in the sane human society. Aasiya did not go to the police as a complainer then, when her husband was beating or her in laws were misbehaving with her and forced to sign on blank stamp papers, for reasons only they knew. Her consistent arguments were, if the police arrest anybody or even punish him, would he be a better modified person or would she get back any solace out of her past sufferings? She is crying with same consistent even today – – “I believe Allah is here, I will do sabr (keep my patience with Allah), I have hope in the laws of the land. I won’t go to complain against anybody or anything, I can’t. However, justice will be done and my pains will cease one day” — she believes!

The author is a Mumbai based scholar and Editor of Eastern Crescent magazine.

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