I, Shahjahan, age 35, am able to tell my story today with such confidence and self-belief in huge part because of CORO’s Mahila Mandal Federation. The life I have now, I owe it all to them.
In search of better prospects, my family moved from our Uttar Pradesh village to Borivali, a suburb of West Mumbai. My father got a job with the municipal bus service and we were able to purchase our own house. One day, my grandfather got very sick, so my father had to leave for our hometown. But his senior officer didn’t sanction his leave which led to a fight between them. My father lost his job and our lives turned upside down. My father became an alcoholic, abusive towards our mother, and our money began to run out. We had to sell our house and move to a slum area in Govandi. As things got worse, my mother started working as a rag picker in the nearby dumping ground, and to help her, I joined in. A close friend of mine from work, Shabbo, got engaged to be married and I was very happy for her to finally be leaving behind this job for a better life. However, after a year I learned that her husband had tortured her to death by hitting her and burning her. This hit me very hard. After seeing Shabbo’s fate and the state of my parents, I decided against marrying anyone. But pressure from my mother and the expectations of society meant I had to get married.