I am a merchant and I can’t count: Babita Das

I was the fourth child out of five that my parents had. They took good care of us and we grew up happy. We had a content, playful childhood and kept busy with games and other things we saw others do.

It never even occurred to us that there was a world outside of Malangwa -which is where I was born and raised. The closest school was about 4 or 5 kilometres away from Malangwa; the capital of Sarlahi district. None of us ever went to school; it took me a very long time to understand that proper education was not just important but a necessity in today’s world. Our ignorance, social setting and inconveniences were probably distancing us from education more than the physical distance itself.

“The ignorance, social setting and inconveniences were probably distancing us from education more that the physical distance itself.”

I got married off at a young age of 15 and had my first child at 16. Having a child as a teenager is a painful experience. Moreover the physical, psychological and emotional journey can be overwhelming, sometimes even devastating. Today when I see someone pregnant, it makes me uncomfortable and anxious, reminding me of my days of struggle. If I could go back in past and redo things, I would choose education over anything else and raise my voice against child marriage.

Babita Das, 35, lives in Baneshwor and owns a garment store at Ason.
Babita Das, 35, lives in Baneshwor and owns a garment store at Ason.

I have three grown up kids who go to school. I have understood how important schooling is for various reasons but primarily to know how to read and write. I own a garment store and have no option but to rely on my staff for almost everything. It is in times like these when I cannot do the simplest things, like maintain a logbook or read a newspaper, I feel helpless. There is nothing I can do about it since I am an illiterate person. I feel education makes you independent and self sufficient in the real sense, just like knowing how to cook helps you survive.

Babita Das. She is the story.

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