Jagdish Sanwal, who had left town to work for Nokia, came back for B2R. Other men said they had been planning to leave when a job opened up. Most of the women said that for the first time they had options other than marriage. Families once wholly dependent on the vagaries of the harvest, now had a reliable income.
As she peels garlic and watches field hockey on TV with her father and brother, Shoba Bisht, 20, straddles the traditional woman’s role of domestic labor and the man’s role of earning money and being doted on.
Her mother packs her lunch for work and gives her time to rest after, but Bisht still helps cook dinner. She does laundry on her day off, but no longer collects wood in the forest.
Two years ago when she was offered a B2R job, her brother laughed and told her he would never let her take it.
“In my family, girls are not allowed to go out for work,” said Bisht, whose last name is common in the region.
Her mother forced him to relent.
Since then, her family has added a wide brick kitchen and concrete living room to the small two mud rooms of its house. They bought a TV. She paid hospital bills for her brother, kept her family from having to borrow money at 60 percent interest from a loan shark and, in an incredible role reversal, helped pay for her brother’s wedding.
Perhaps more stunning in a society where daughters are often viewed as an economic burden, Bisht is putting money away to pay for her eventual dowry.
Dewan Singh Bisht said he turns to his daughter whenever there is a financial emergency.
“I am very proud of her,” he said.
Listening to her husband, Devki Bisht, 44, cries quietly as she squats over an electric stove, heating milk for tea.
She wants her daughter to be independent, to have a better life.
“It’s not just a man’s right to go out and work,” she said.
Though they have talked about marrying her off, Devki Bisht now says she is prepared to wait years for the right family, one that will let her daughter keep working.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>
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