The invisible me

This is a story of one woman. That's her.

Her name is Dhanno. She is 23 years old. Lives in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Married at 16. Has two children. Spends most of her time at home, no, infact, all of her time inside the four walls. Those are her walls. Her world. Her husband is a gardner and is out of home throughout the day. 

 

Dhanno cooks, feeds her children and the house-cows. There is not much of a problem with water, however, she cleans her utensils solely with the desert sand. Its mesmerising to see her do that. She owns only two pairs of clothes for daily-wear. One is washed and hung in the sun to dry while the other is worn with grace. Oiling hair is the first step of daily grooming. With a streak of sindoor (vermilion) on the forehead, there she puts on a ghunghat (veil). Like a warrior. Hiding her face in the battlefield of men and traditions. Everyday. 

After I lived with her for a few days, she remarked, “tu mari photo lene duniya ne vatavi, ve pusila, aa kunn hai? (when you take my photo to the world, they will question ‘Who is she?’)” to which I replied, "woh iss tohh, aap kunn ho? (that's the question, who are you?)”
​Women in ghunghat are a common sight in rural regions of India.
 
Sometimes, this practice becomes a performance for others - it is even considered a tourist attraction for western travelers due to its vibrant colors and is imagined as a part of India's rich cultural heritage.
 
Should rich cultural heritage like these be preserved? or is it okay to let go of traditions that impinge on people's basic rights to live freely? Ghunghat is rather easily accepted as a common sight in rural areas and measures are hardly taken to abandon the deep-rooted practice. This series not only witnesses the practice of ghunghat but also the everyday life of a woman in rural society.
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© 2020 Ankita Jain