‘I learnt the hard way from my mistakes’



Kanchan (25) was born and raised in a poor family in a suburb of Calcutta in West Bengal. Five years ago she moved with her family to Gurgaon, the southern region of Delhi. Together they hope to make more money here to make their dreams come true.

What does happiness mean to you?
I feel happiness when I am surrounded by my family and friends and when I am loved by my husband. I especially feel proud and happy when my children make good choices in life.

What is your background?
I went to school from my sixth until my fourteenth. In my last year of school I met my husband and got married. He was fifteen at that time. It was an arranged marriage by our parents, I had never seen or spoken to my husband before. Arranged marriages are custom in India, especially in small villages. Our parents knew each other from the social community in the village and agreed that my husband and I would be a good match. Right after we got married I was scared and felt nervous, I had so many questions. I wondered if we would get along, if he would treat me good and if his family would be open and nice to me. In the end it all worked out, I have a descent husband and I am a lucky woman. After getting married I quite school. I kept myself busy with cleaning, cooking and maintaining our home. I soon got pregnant of our first baby at the age of sixteen and we have three kids in now. My oldest boy is nine, the middle girl is seven and the third boy just turned six. It felt naturally to me to become a mother at a young age, I felt ready to have the responsibility of kids. When our family increased we moved to Delhi. Both my husband and my family is poor, we didn’t got a dowry and we needed more money to live. In Delhi my husband found a better job, so we all moved.

Where do you stand in life?
I am happy that I found a cleaning job in Delhi and can make some money next to being a mom. We would love to move back one day to our hometown and build our own big family house. It’s a dream my husband and I are both working on.

Are you familiar with the 30 years dilemma?
I am definitely not worried about turning thirty. I will know how I feel about it when I am thirty. But this is definitely not something I am worried or thinking about nowadays and I can’t imagine that other women would. Why would you worry about something that is definitely going to happen and is just a number? I don’t even know my exact age.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you have a dream?
My dream is to earn some more money and move back to our hometown. Where we will build our own home on our purchased land. We grow our own food and have enough money to send our children to a good school. I would love to learn how to sew and make and sell clothes.

What wise lesson did your parents teach you?
My mother taught me to live my life in peace with my husband. Try to be independent and save up for my children’s educations and wedding.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
As happy as I am with my husband I would avoid to get married so young, I would have preferred to finish my education, to find a better job and be more (financially) independent. I learnt the hard way from my mistakes and I hope I can teach my daughter to make wiser choices.

When was your last moment of happiness?
I am a Muslima and since it is Ramadan I am happy every day when we cook and eat all together in the morning and evening. Even though I am a Muslima I am wearing a Hindu bindi. Everyone in Delhi does so and I started to wear one as well even though I am a Muslima. To me it feels feminine, like sexy make up.

Under the same sun is an ongoing travel log which you can follow on our travel and lifestyle blog Meet You at the Bridge. The reports show the similarities and differences on what it means to be happy for women between the ages of 25 and 35 who hail from different cultures.

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