Like any other women, Saptomi Rani Mungli, in her early life, used to dream of having a family filled with love and happiness. However, her dream was shattered as she had to undergo inhuman torture by her in-laws and her husband.
She finally parted with the torturous relationship eleven years of her tying the knot.
Leaving her husband’s home, she took shelter at her emaciated parental home in Joypurhat’s Akkelpur upazila.
But things became more complicated there as she did not have any means to feed her family members, including her elderly mother.
She never wanted to be a burden to her widowed mother.
Initially, she started selling betel leaves to generate income after returning to her parental home. However, the earnings were not enough to feed her family. With such low earnings, it was not possible to continue the studies of her three kids as well.
“I had become so distraught then”, she said.
She had no savings to start any business in the area. Finally, Mungli had decided to grab the handle of a rickshaw in 2015 as profession. “The earning was relatively low for the first few months. Things started improving gradually.
“Now, I earn around Tk 500 per day”, she said. Besides, other rickshaw pullers of the area are so helpful to her, said Mungli.
Mungli, the daughter of Bodha Mali, of Bishnupur village under Akkelpur Upazila of Joypurhat was born in an ultra-poor family. Her parents married her off to Bital Mali, son of Kashinath Mali, at Baman village under Kalai Upazila in 2002.
She was just 16 then.
A bicycle, half tola gold and Tk 20,000 were given to Bital as dowry.
“I was taking time to adjust with everything at my new home”, she said adding her in-laws and husband did not take time to start inflicting inhuman torture on her.
All the family members used to torture her almost every, she said while shedding drops of tears.
“They often beat me up with sticks. If I protested, they would gag me,” Mungli said.
“My husband even seared my skin with burning mosquito coil and cigarette. As the torture was unbearable, I would often come back to my parental home to get relief. But, they [her parents] forcibly sent her back to her in-law’s house due their chronic poverty.”
“They used to torture me more after my return”, said Mungli.
She bore the traumatic relation for 11 years.
In the meantime, she also became mother of three children.
Finally, Mungli left her husband forever in 2013, with her three children, to start a new life.
“I allowed her to stay here as I could not see her distress anymore “, said Shepali Mali, the mother of Mungli.
Talking to The Daily Star, Mungli said pulling a rickshaw-van is a pretty laborious job. Although her body ached much, she never quit.
These days, she is plying a battery-run rickshaw, which is a bit comfortable. “I ply it from morning to evening every day “, she said adding “the money I get plying the rickshaw is enough to manage my family.”
All her three children are studying now, she said. “It is my only dream to help my children grow with proper education,” she said.
Selim Mahmud, chairman of Tilakpur UP, said that Mungli stays at a shabby house with her mother and children.
The UP administration is trying to allocate a house for them from the prime minister’s special fund.
“She earns money through honesty that is an example to others”, he said.