Mauritius: My life story, prisoner for 4 months

Date: October 9, 2019
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I am Cindy, born in Lallamatie, Mauritius. My Dad was working as a laborer at Fuel estate and My Mum was a farmer. I was the third child among six, unfortunately, three passed away. My childhood was a bed of roses as my parents were very caring and lovely. Each morning, we used to help our parents on the farm because it was a way for us to learn about responsibility and solidarity at a very young age. Indeed, we were poor but we lived in dignity. Also, I attended the Lallmatie Government school but I did not opt for secondary education due to the financial situation of my family.

At the age of 17 years, I got a proposal from a charming 31 years old man known as Patrick*. We tried to get along despite the fact that it would be an arranged marriage.  Drastic changes happened in my life, particularly while living with my in-laws at Mahebourg. I learned that my mother-in-law Priscilles* was a liar, pretending to be a house-owner when she was renting a house and unable to pay for it. I was even more shocked and ashamed when the owner insulted me as I hailed from a respectable family and I was not used to such attitudes. It was hard for me to adapt to this new environment. Everything was so dull and out of control. Within my husband’s family, they were relentless; there was no communication among members, their daily routine ranged from conflict, arguments, and lack of courtesy.

Throughout the years, I have been confined in my traditional role as a housewife.No one never gave me a helping hand in my daily chores. My husband was most of the time out probably with friends but I was so dumb that I kept on believing all his cock and bull stories. One day, I shared my sorrow with Priscilles* who pointed out the fact that Patrick is a man, a man needs his freedom and a wife should not obstruct his freedom. Things got even worse when I came to know that my husband enjoyed drinking, playing cards and racing. He never contributed a single rupee apart for purchasing bread in the morning and paying the utility bills. At times, he brought some basic amenities such as rice, flour but most of the time I had to manage on my own. This was really hard for me until I started to work in a vegetable field and my husband as a caretaker in a school.

My existence would have been rosier if I had a kid but destiny has chosen that i should stay without one. I still remembered how it all started. I was so upset by the indifference of Patrick and the humiliating attitude of my in-laws that i attempted suicide on several occasions. For my first attempt, I was planning to throw myself at the back of the Kovil in Beau Vallon where i used to wash clothes. Fortunately, I have been saved by passers-by. As my relationship with my husband kept on worsening, i decided to end my life again. This scene is still etched in my memory, i was pregnant for three months and Patrick was at work. I cleaned the whole house and bought some fizzy drinks. Then I opened the cupboard, took some pills and went to my room. I drunk two glasses of soft drinks and swallowed some pills. I started to feel weird and laid on my bed. I could see my life scroll like in movies.  When my husband was back, he told me what was the matter, despite not knowing what had really happened. I have been urgently transported to the nearby hospital by my neighbors as Patrick was feeling ashamed of what I have done. I had to be under a special kind of treatment due to my pregnancy. My world collapsed when I gave birth at 8 months, however, my little boy died after 24 hours. I was on the verge of lunacy and I was depressed. Due to my actual mental condition, I had been followed by a psychiatrist and till now I’m still feeling afflicted by this loss.

After all these chaotic events,my husband has changed a bit in the sense that he stopped to swear and shout. It has not taken long for his faults to materialize. It was quite obvious that he loved his family more than me as he looked after them and gave them money. Patrick has been encountering some health issues due to his high intake of alcohol. The diagnostic of the doctors was not as favorable, each day his health was deteriorating and Patrick could not stand on his feet more than 10 minutes. The day Patrick passed away, I was at work and my sister-in-law was looking at him. I was supposed to take him to the doctor, however, my nephews took him away and when I was back l learned that he has been transported to the bank to take out all his money which will be supposedly used for the medical fees. When he was not here, I shouted and I cried. When I paid him a visit at the hospital, he was not feeling well. My brother-in-law found 800 rupees in his pocket after a recent visit and gave me his money; it was the first time in my whole life that I had the opportunity of touching the money that has been earned by my husband. If I knew that he would leave me, I would not leave him at the hospital. My nephews were aware that he was going to die and I was not. I was as dumb as I did not know anything. My only regret was that he wanted to eat ‘dhalpita’ and I did not make it. He stayed for 8 days and after three days he passed away. I organized prayer sessions and purchased alcoholic drinks as a ritual to give him what he would like to drink.  His family was complaining that there was not enough drink despite the fact that all the alcoholic drinks that I have purchased have vanished in fine air. I bought some again, but still, they told me that they did not consume any. They did not contribute a penny, but they kept on taking money from me and I was so dumb that I continued to give them. Thus, it was more like a party rather than a prayer session.

My husband and I married under religious rites only despite the enforcement of the civil marriage law, his family was very reticent by the fact that we got married legally as most of the land under his ownership would be mine. Because of money, they could have killed me and my husband would have not intervened.  One day, my brother-in-law was building a drain and it was near my door and alley. I said that he should not do this construction near my alley as he will be obstructing my main entry. He did not say a single word. However, at night, when I was taking my bath, his wife and he were shouting and when I came out, they started to beat me and tore my clothes; my husband was watching the scene and he did not dare to save me from my assailants.  My clothes were torn; fortunately that I had a semi-shirt on me if not I would have been nude. My top was still with me, but the bottom has fallen down and I was not even aware of that. My nephew rushed from his bathroom and rescued me.  I was very ashamed when he told me:’ mom you are nude.’ It is only then that I realized that my clothes were torn; he put a towel on me. My brother and sister-in-law threw a stone at me and this hit my head. I was bleeding and my husband refused to bring me to the nearby hospital. It was my neighbor who accepted to accompany me.

My brother-in-law was living in an old house. My younger brother-in-law and I saved money to marry him. Where I was living, I built a big kitchen so as to accommodate a family member when they came to stay at my place. I would be having the house for sure, but my brother-in-law was coming very often at my place, he recently had a kid and was cultivating marijuana and I did not know what it was. My husband was aware of this and did hide some under my bed. One day in 1985, a police squad came at my place and I was visiting my newly born nephew and my husband was at work.  My brother-in-law called me and asked me to come. He told the police squad that he was renting the house and that I was the owner. The police took me and I was thinking of my husband and his responsibility as the breadwinner and of my brother-in-law as well recently being a dad, what would happen to them if they were arrested, who would be taking all their responsibilities. As I did not have so many responsibilities, I decided to take upon the accusation and the police arrested me, unfortunately, I was sent behind bars for 4 months upon the verdict.

When I was there, they looked at me in a strange way as if they believed that I hailed from India. Women and girls were separated. I was not feeling well at all. I did not eat, drink and I was down. In a room, there were four beds for four women, the mattress contained thumbtacks and I could not sleep. I was condemned on the 15 January and set free on 10 April. The women in my cell were eager to know my story. There was a nice lady that I got used with, she was 62 years old and has been condemned for abortion. I was feeling at ease with her and she considered me as her daughter. My hair was long, they were jealous of me, I was very beautiful in my youth, they used to make fun of me, when I was keeping my food, they robbed it and ate it. I have not use the washroom for one week neither ate nor drink. Some officials were aware of my proximity to this lady and they changed my room several times. They did not trust you even though you told the truth. The way they treated individuals in prison really hurt me. When I was on my bed, I had to remove thumbtacks and threw them on the other ladies sleeping downstairs. I developed some kind of insomnia, which is still rampant today.  There was a Muslim lady that came and people told that she had contracted herpes. Her hair has been shaved as well as her whole body, she has been isolated in a room where she has been cured and she also was pregnant. When the high-secured prison opened up, we have been transferred there. It was great in the sense that I got my own room despite the bed being made of concrete and the mattress of sponge. A small window stayed open which was ideal for mosquitoes and I could not sleep.  I have been given a signet for my hygiene purpose and each morning I had to empty it. No one was aware that I was in prison. When there were 15 days left before my liberation, my mother came to know about it and she lost consciousness.

I wanted to be part of this course because I was staying at home and my friends told me that entrepreneurship courses were being disseminated and I wanted to know what it was and how to do it. I came to know how it set up a business and I did not know that I was learning. My actual situation has improved as I’m no more stressed. I’m planning to join a group of women who manufactured bags.