“One of the two women told me that they were not getting a place to live, and wanted to send their children back to the village for the sake of their future. However, their families are in no mood to support them,“ an Etapalli resident told TOI.
Around 12 years ago, Sunita got married in Chhattisgarh‘s Pakhanjur and shifted to Etapalli with her husband in search of work.The family subsequently moved to a village in Mulchera, Gadchiroli, where Nandita was her neighbour. Sunita’s alcoholic husband is said to have neglected her and stayed away from home on business errands.
A lonely Sunita, by now mother of a 10-year-old boy and a younger girl child, de veloped a romantic relationship with Nandita.
They started staying together in the absence of Sunita’s husband, drawing the neighbourhood’s attention and ire. Soon, Nandita’s family married her off. Even though Nandita gave birth to a boy child soon, the duo continued their “taboo“ relationship. Sunita even asked her husband to accept Nandita into their family , but his relatives rejected the suggestion.
“Many of Etapalli’s residents had spotted Sunita’s husband sleeping outside while the women remained indoors,“ said a resident. “The women left home together twice, but returned on being cajoled by their husbands.“
Sunita’s husband eventually demanded an end to her relationship with Nandita.“Sunita, instead, opted to end her own marriage. She filed an affidavit before the panchayat and left home for the third time.“ Sunita wanted to settle with Nandita in Etapalli and start a small business.But residents opposed their plans, compelling them to move out.
(Names have been changed to protect identities)