I am a nineteen-year-old girl from northeast India. Unlike other girls in the country who are pursuing a career and shaping their future, I am married with a one-month-old baby. I was born into a low-income family as the eldest of three siblings. Despite our poverty, I would say that we were a happy family until ‘the unwanted’ secretly crept into my father’s life. My dad, a labourer, started loving the unwanted more than his wife and children. Gradually, he started spending his total income on the unwanted and left my mum with no choice but to opt for sweeping floors and washing dishes as a maidservant.
She was a woman with strong willpower and values which kept her and her three small children going in the middle of a crisis of bread and butter. She tried hard to help my father overcome his habit of the unwanted; however, she failed miserably in her attempts. As if this was not enough, destiny too was harsh on us.
My father started complaining of frequent vomiting and abdominal pain. He was too weak to leave the bed. His hospital visits became frequent, and finally, the surgeon diagnosed him as having a damaged pancreas. I couldn’t understand the diagnosis. All I remember is tears in my mum’s eyes. She was helpless and tired of all the problems in her life, looking after my father in the hospital and arranging money to pay the medical bills. In the meantime, I started taking care of my brother and sister, cooking meals for them, sending them to school, and comforting them about whatever happening in our house. However, I couldn’t do good in my studies and received bad grades in my class. It hampered my confidence enough to shatter my self-esteem. I started staying at home and didn’t talk much to my friends as I was ashamed of my grades and my father’s habit. I had no place where I could seek help, and society pressured my mother to get me married off at very young age. My house is not in a decent community, and youth are mostly alcoholics and addicted to gambling. Therefore, my mother said yes to the proposal of the marriage.
I was a young girl with hopes and a twinkle in my eyes like you. However, the unwanted harmful effect of alcohol snatched my dreams and left me in the cycle of poverty and disadvantage. But, I am hopeful that the next generation, including my son, can over come the harmful effect of unwanted alcohol.