My husband died when my son was only 11 months old. He had brain cancer and we did not have the money to get him treated. My beloved husband had a painful death after fighting a brave battle with cancer for a long time but his demise left me and my infant alone in this harsh world. Just after my husband’s death, I was forced to leave my in-law’s place along with my son. I moved in with my parents. But according to the Hindu custom, a daughter cannot come back and settle with their parents after marriage. I am talking about a time 20 years from now. At that time, people were not this progressive as today. So, I had to find a way to earn for me and my son very fast. To make ends meet, I started working as a day-laborer on the fields of other farmers as that was the only work I was capable of doing. It was not a very stable source of income for me since work was available only during the peak time of cultivation. But it was good enough to take care of me and my son. The heavy burden of being a single mother and raising my son single-handedly was on my shoulders at a very young age. I can’t recall exactly, but most likely I was in my early twenties.
Life is not easy for people coming from socio-economic backgrounds like us. On top of that, I was a widowed, single mother living in a village in the remote Dumuria region. I soon realized I need to do something to build a strong foundation for me & my son as I don’t have anybody to rely on. I kept earning and saving for the future. After working in the field for around 7 years, I thought I should start my own business. With the little savings that I had, I bought three calves. When they matured, I started selling their milk. But I was not confident enough to go to the market and sell them on my own. So, I reached out to another person from the village who would act as an intermediary and sell the milk in the market on my behalf for some commission. I was doing my business this way for quite some time. One day, I realized that I was being deceived. Local people told me that he was selling the milk at a very high rate in the market but giving me a very little portion of that. Hearing this, I was in utter shock. How can people think of taking advantage of someone’s weakness? Especially after knowing about my ongoing struggles for so many years? After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that I will be selling my products by myself no matter what happens. Now I ride the Van myself and take the milk to the market. In the beginning, I used to sell only 3kgs of milk daily. Now, I am selling 30 kgs of milk each day.
My son and I have come a long way. But it was not easy for both of us. We had to face several obstacles and societal pressures. Even though times have changed a lot, the life of a widowed woman is still not easy in the Hindu community. But I know that I have the competence to overcome these barriers. It has been 16 years since I am running my own business. I have successfully raised my son on my own and also given him a proper education. Currently, I have expanded my business to a sweet shop. The sweet shop has been very profitable for me as well as adding diversification to my income source.
When life has made me go through so many harsh realities, the pandemic could not instigate any fear within me after all. When the Covid-19 caused a nationwide lockdown, most of the small businesses were shut down. But I had to find a way to sustain myself. During the daytime, it was next to impossible to run any trade in a public place. So, I started selling the milk at a nearby temple at dawn. Almost everyone was asleep at that time. Only the people who wanted to buy my milk would come to the temple and collect milk from me.
I know that my fight does not stop here. I have a long way to go. But standing where I am right now, I feel only gratitude for all the tough situations that life has put me through. I learned a lot and got to understand the true meaning of life. I have become fiercely independent and confident now. Long gone are my days of despair. Now I can only hope for a better future for myself and my son. I am planning to expand my sweet shop in the future. For that, I need an investment of around 1 lac taka. If I get an investment of this amount, I can move forward with my dreams even further.