I'm Too Young to Marry!

Raj Nandini Jha is an active member and
Peer Leader of YRC Youth Voice
My name is Rajnandini Jha. I am 13 years old. I have my parents, younger sister, brother and me in my family. My mother works at people’s homes, and my father is a driver.

I live in VIP Nagar, which is not a good place to live in. If I speak with even a younger boy people start spreading rumours. If women go out a lot, people take it badly.

I remember my grandma (father’s mother) always ill-treated my mother because she was a Bihari and not a Bengali. She would give her stale food and complain to my father about her. My father would believe grandma and beat up my mother. I used to feel so bad for her. I would save some of my share of the food to give to my mother.

I was 12 years old when on Kali Puja there was a big commotion in our community because of me. I was seen with a boy I like. People in my neighbourhood hit the boy and it soon became a community fight. I became a bad girl, and our family was isolated in the community. Community members felt that I should be married off as soon as possible.

A day after that incident my father’s friend brought a proposal of marriage, between me and his brother. My father agreed. The groom was even older than my father. He was 40 years old had two kids from his previous marriage.

I was a member of YRC Youth Voice, and a peer leader. I got a lot of support from Youth Voice and Anjanadi. Anjanadi spoke many times to my mother, and guided her and me. Other Youth Voice members also explained to my mother and neighbours, I was a child and I was too young to be married. My mother knew this was wrong, but she did not have the power to stop it for sure. So she made a backup plan that if the marriage could not be stopped then we should inform Anjana about the wedding date so that on that day, the group could come and stop the wedding legally. Other parents said that I should stop going to the group. Youth Voice members held a meeting in which the other peer leaders all agreed to support me irrespective of the community decision.

After this my father got really angry. He left home and stayed away for two days. He also blackmailed me and my mother saying that if I did not marry that man, he will leave my mother. I did not want that to happen so I agreed at first. Finally because of Youth Voice and my mother, we were able to convince my father and say No to the marriage.

My dream is to be an English teacher. From my childhood school aunties used to inspire me a lot. I used to observe them more than I used to study.

My message is that there will be different kind of problems in life but believe in yourself. It is important to share your dreams and feelings with your mother. If we don’t share our dreams sometimes our parents don’t know what we want. Because of this incident my family now knows my dream.