AYESHA Beevi, 28, works as a maid in Kozhikode. She lives alone in a squalid quarter of the town, a victim of two unsuccessful marriages that very nearly drove her to death.
Here's her story: Ayesha was married off at 13. Her husband was 60 years old. He had a daughter of Ayesha's age. The marriage lasted barely four years. During which he was jealous and would not allow his young wife to talk to another man. One day, someone greeted her on the street. He divorced her the same day and took their two sons along with him.
Ayesha recalls that part of her life with bitterness: "I had no father, no brothers. My mother pushed me into the marriage because she thought it was the best thing for me. She never considered my feelings." After her first relationship went awry, she was married off again. This time it lasted 10 years. Ayesha was fond of her husband and even bore him a son. Then, he went away to marry another woman. Ayesha was devastated. He had stripped her of her earnings to start a business—selling fish. She sold her house, all the property she had. And grieved alone.
One day, at five in the morning, Ayesha stood on the edge of the platform watching the train pull in. She lunged forward and fell squarely on the tracks. The engine was upon her. But her intentions were thwarted as the wheels pushed her off the tracks. She was alive, only badly injured. "Allah extended my life," she reminisces. "People just stood and watched. No one came towards me. I picked myself up and went to a clinic. The lady doctor told me to go to the medical college. They put 15 stitches on my head and hands." Ayesha went back to work as a maid. She hopes her husband will give up the woman he has married and return to her.She is waiting to receive him.