Published: March 4th 2011March 2nd 2011
Her name is Mountaj but everybody calls her Kutima which means the daughter in a family.
She is the only daughter in a Muslim family, born 22 years ago in Vedanthangal, a small village in Tamil Nadu, South India. She lives with her mum (Fatima), her dad (Hussein) and two brothers, one of them older than her (Satjogan) and the other one younger (Rakman) in a very small house in the center of the village.
Her mum cooks idli in the morning and some people go there for breakfast. At lunch time she cooks for the volunteers who worked in Laia Foundation (that's how I met them). Fatima also rolls some bedis (indian cigarettes) and sells them in Chengalpattu (the district town). She's the strongest member in the family and she knows it. She stands firm and unchallenged.
Kutima's dad used to work as a teacher in a tuition center near the village. He had to stop when some mental problems appeared and now he sells snacks, vegetables, soup, dahl.... in some small villages next to Vedanthangal. He looks after Mani, the dog, because he loves it! Hussein doesn't eat chicken or fish because he gives it to the
Waiting for what?
She looks the world through these holes....
dog. Hussein looks happy, sometimes maybe too much?
Satjogan works as a bus driver. He got married with Rose last year and they had a baby just 2 months ago. He's the oldest one and he's doing exactlly what he has to do.
Rakman works in Chengalpattu and brings lots of money to the home. He's very responsible, efficient and correct. He always has a smile for you. He's just letting it flow.
When Kutima was 6 their parents decided to separate. Fatima coudln't handle all the family and her husband's mental problems and she went (with Kutima and Rakman) to her sister's place. Rakman was too young and it didn't affect his life but not so for Kutima. She had just started her first standard at school in Vedanthangal but she had to leave it because they moved 200 klm away. She spent 4 years at her aunty's house and she just remembers that her parents were separated because they fought a lot.
Kutima doesn't know how to write or read in Tamil (her mother tongue). She's worried because she's very black and she tries to do many sorts of things to become whiter (eating
Fatima, kutima and me at her place in Vedanthangal!
more vegetables for example). She thinks that the roses would die if you touch them when you have your period, or that you have to spit three times in the fire if you are cold because it will cure your illness...
Sometimes in the morning she washes some clothes but she doesn't know how to cook or roll cigarettes or work in the garden and she doesn't want to learn. She never goes outside because she is very concerned about what people will think about her.
She just sits in front of the a brick wall with holes and and observes the world. The other's world becomes her own world.
She's just waiting and praying.... maybe one man will want to marry her and bring her the opportunity to do something else?