Mission Delhi – Anita Sen, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Anita Sen is a working woman. A gardener in a public park in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region, she lives with her husband and their youngest son. Her other three children are being raised by their grandparents in the village in Madhya Pradesh.
Ms Sen is 36.
“I was married very early,” she says, during a break from work. Holding a shovel, the sari-wearing woman explains that life in her village is profoundly different from life in the city. “The tradition there is to marry a girl as soon as she turns 12 or 13.”
Her eldest child, a girl, has just turned 14, the age when Ms Sen was married by her parents.
“She’s in 9th class… we’ll marry her next year.”
Ms Sen is aware that legally a girl has to be at least 18 to be married “but nobody knows this rule in villages.”
Indeed, she herself is against early marriage. “It was wrong of my parents to marry me so early, I didn’t know anything then.”
She confesses she would have refused to marry if she was as wise as she is now.
Then why is she thinking of repeating her parents’ “wrong”?
Ms Sen is helpless against the village customs. “I have no power over them.”
What if her daughter refuses to marry?
Swaddled with the enduring mores of her world, some of which don’t agree with her own experiences of life, the lady answers without hesitation, declaring confidently that “if my girl tells me, ‘Mummy I don’t want to marry at the moment’, then I will let her follow her will.”
[This is the 261st portrait of Mission Delhi project]