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Thứ Ba, 15 tháng 11, 2011

She is at the age of 16, ready to get married next month, to a man she has known for barely 6 months, and into a future she is not sure of.
After all, there is nothing to be sure of in this life, don't you know that, baby?

She is the youngest of three, her two older brothers are in China, working and searching for their two step sisters, who were tricked and trafficked a few years ago. She has three step sisters, from her father's first and third wives (her own mother is his second wife). All three of them got trafficked to China. One has escaped and come back by herself, just to be arrested shortly for involvement with drugs. This sister, whose 5 years old son is  being taken care of by her mother, now spends her years prison to pay for a punishment she may not have deserved in the first place. Two out of the three step sisters are still missing. Her own brothers are looking for them, hope drying up every day they spend there without any trace of the two.
The little boy, whose mother is in prison, and father is unknown, lives with her and her mother. He is very naughty, but cute. Maybe he is their source of comfort and hope?

She dropped out of school after grade 5. She wasn't that much interested in schooling. Her family is poor, besides everyone thinks she has a mental problem. When she was young, she fell into a pond and almost died. That accident must have affected her brain. She doesn't know if it's true, that's what everyone says. Since then, she worked a bit on the fields, a bit in a restaurant, a bit in a nearby factory, or sometimes nothing at all.
What is the motivation to go to school for a girl with no money, no hope, and believes herself to be incompetent? What role does education play anyway? No one can guarantee that if you finish grade 12 you will be able to feed yourself for the rest of your life, while growing rice does.

She has a friend. This friend always tells her she can earn good money by working in a restaurant the latter  knows. She has come with this friend twice, to a place about 40km away from her own village. She didn't tell her mother or pack any clothes with her. "That will be taken care of" - her friend said. So she just waited for a good moment, walked out of the house and went straight to a person her friend had arranged to pick her up not too far from the house. Twice, her mother had gone searching for her and brought her back. One time, the people in that restaurant were particularly difficult and did all they could to prevent strangers from going inside. Her mother had waited for her outside and seized her the moment she appeared, ran back to the motorbike and drove home.
At the age of 16, we always listen to our friends and never take our parents seriously, don't we?

She doesn't believe her mother when she said her friend wanted to traffic her. It's just a job, like any other job, why couldn't that old woman understand? Her mother even wanted to file a complaint and report to the police, but with her in the house and no damaged done, the police would never lift a finger. People advised her mother to notify the Women's Union, but again, since no one is missing, the Women's Union staffs have their own problems to solve before sticking their noses into someone else's business. Her mother was frustrated, then helpless. She doesn't listen, and there is no one around to discipline her. Her mother works in construction site 10 hours a day, every single day of the week.
How does it feel to see someone so dear to your heart run straight to danger but you have no way to stop them? 

She met this guy, who is very much her first romance in life. He is 12  years older than her, a construction worker himself. He seems nice, and wants to marry her. Her mother has visited his family, and they are good as well. So the wedding is set. With nothing much to look forward to, she happily settles down to marriage, even though she is more like a kid herself. Her mother, dreads that she will be trafficked again, hopes that once married, she will no longer the target of traffickers, and a new role as a wife will do it magic. She will turn into a proper adult after the wedding, and the burden will be lifted from her mother's shoulders, who has already been pushed to the end of tunnels so many times before. Being a single mother almost all her life with the two sons away, the best solution her mother can think of is to give her daughter to a man, and hopes that he will take good care of her, because she has tried her best, but has failed to do that.
How much choice any of these women have over their lives, do you think?

Being a very young wife, and very likely a young mother, she virtually can't escape the circle of poverty. The wound in that family continues furthering down and even enlarging in more generations to come. The link was broken once, when her father decided to have multiple wives, and no one knows how much it will take to mend this rupture.

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