Featured Character of the Month: Guddi from Shrouds Over Eden

This month we are featuring Guddi, whose story appears in Shrouds Over Eden, a book for the broken hearted. Guddi has had to make some difficult decisions in her life. Here she is to share with us more about who she is.

Again, with me, is Alizeh Rasheed who has graciously agreed to act as our interpreter for this interview. And just for the record, the picture you will see in print is a younger Guddi as she says she no longer is as beautiful as she once was. I think she still has a striking personality. She has certainly aged gracefully. Okay, so let’s hear from Guddi.

Me

Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you and where do you live? Do you own your own home, or do you rent?

Guddi

I am now close to 50 years old. I live in a village, District Jalandhar. I live with my husband and sister who is also my husband’s wife and three children, two sons and a daughter. The children are my sisters, I am not able to have children.

Me

It isn’t common for people in your country to have more than one wife. Could you please share why your husband is married to your sister?

Guddi

You’re right, it isn’t common. But in cases where a wife is childless and there is no one to inherit the property, then it is permissible for the husband to take a second wife. My husband was afraid that his relatives would steal the land from him if he didn’t have a son. So I suggested that he marry my younger sister. She is the one who has the children. But because I am the first wife, the children call me Mama.

Me

Who is the most important person in your life? Why?

Guddi

Those two boys that call me Mama. They are very important because it is they that will look after us in our old age.

Me

What is your greatest fear?

Guddi

That someday my husband and sister will no longer give me full respect as the first wife and I will lose our sons.

Me

How do you measure success? Would it be money, career, husband/wife, children, happiness, etc.?

Guddi

My husband has much land, he is a big farmer here and very successful. So, having good crops, land and sons to look after us in our old age is success for me.

Me

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Guddi

Perfect happiness would have been able to carry my own biological son. But fate was not with me. We tried everything to have a child. I visited our holiest temple, the Harmandir Sahib and I even went to Goindwal Sahib. It is a gurdwara that has 84 steps in it. On each step you recite Japji Sahib, that’s the divine word revealed to Guru Nanak. If you do all 84 steps your sins are forgiven, and you don’t have to go through so many reincarnations. But you can also pray for personal things, so I asked Satguru to give me a son. Even though I endured and did all 84 steps, I didn’t get a son. That’s when I decided my husband should marry my sister.

Me

Do you work outside the home? If so, what is your occupation?

Guddi

My sister is a teacher, but I stay home and look after the household and children.

Me

What did you eat for breakfast? Did you make it yourself? Do you wash your own dishes or do you have a maid to do those things for you?

Guddi

I had a paratha with yogurt and achar this morning for breakfast. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s a stuffed flat bread fried in a pan along with the achar which is a kind of spicy pickle. I make the meals, so I made breakfast for everyone. Also, we have a girl that comes in and washes dishes and cleans the floors and does the laundry.

Me

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Guddi

I wish Satguru would take away my barrenness. To be barren is to be cursed by God which means looked down upon in the village. Even though my sister’s boys call me Mama, when I walk in the village, I still feel that people look at me and gossip about me because I can’t have children.

Me

Sonu talks about you in the book Shrouds Over Eden. Where did you meet her?

Guddi

What an angel! She came to our village a few years back. She shared many things about this one she had met, called Lamb and how his compassion strengthened her and gave her courage. She shared about how he valued women. I wish I knew Lamb the way she does because then I would have asked him for a son. If I had a son, then I wouldn’t have asked my sister to marry my husband.

Me

Are you not happy?

Guddi

I am not complaining but sometimes I get depressed. It is not easy being one of two wives, even if I am the first wife.

Me

Well we have run out of time and we don’t have time for another question, except for this last one. It is a fun question. What is your favourite colour?

Guddi

I like bright colours, bright blues and greens.

Thank you Guddi for taking time out of your day to be interviewed. I’m sure it wasn’t easy sharing your story to a large audience. You did an excellent job; I feel I know you so much more. For our readers who want to read Guddi’s story, you can purchase Shrouds Over Eden at various outlets worldwide.

Click here to find out more about Shrouds Over Eden.

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Featured Character in Shrouds Over Eden: Salome by Helen Khan

We were able to connect with featured character, Salome in her home in Sardarpur. She graciously agreed to talk to us about her life. If you have read Shrouds Over Eden, then you would have first met her there. I’m looking forward to hearing from her.

Assisting me today is Alizeh Rasheed who is fluent in both Urdu and Punjabi, plus, she tells me, she also speaks several local dialects as well. She is my translator.

Me

Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you and where do you live? Do you own your own home or rent?

Salome

I’m 27 years old and live at home with my parents in a small town called Sardarpur. I have a brother and two sisters. I used to be married but not anymore and I don’t have any children.

Me

Are you divorced or did your husband pass away?

Salome

I am separated from my husband. It is not easy for a woman to get divorced here, especially a Christian woman. My father asked his friend who is a lawyer about getting a divorce for me. He said, at one time that would have been possible, but one of our former presidents changed the Christian Divorce Act. The government is currently changing the act to include violence but it will be a long time before it happens. Besides, maybe my husband will change some day and I can go back to him.

Me

Who is the most important person in your life? And why?

Salome

The most important person in my life is my father. He has been my biggest support through all my difficulties, with my ex-husband and with my illness.

Me

What is your greatest fear?

Salome

I’m afraid to eat. Eating is very painful for me as my esophagus is damaged.

Me

What happened to you?

Salome

I don’t like to talk much about it, but I did it to myself. I was so depressed about my mom and sisters calling me names because I am not with my abusive husband. My mother is ashamed of me and couldn’t face people in the community, so she started to verbally abuse me, as did my sisters. All of this made me depressed so one day I drank Sweep. The acid burned my esophagus and stomach. But my father found me and rushed me to the hospital and now I am alive.

Me

Who is the person you respect the most, and why?

Salome

My father, because he loves me and he has supported me through everything. He is a very special father, especially in my culture where fathers don’t love their daughters the way my father does. Most men want sons, not daughters, so my father is an exception.

Me

How do you measure success?

Salome

Success would be having enough money to pay off all our debt.

Me

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Salome

Perfect happiness would be to be married to a good man and to have sons.

Me

Do you work outside the home? What is your occupation?

Salome

I work in people’s homes, cleaning and doing laundry and other chores. I am not educated so the only job I can get is cleaning.

Me

What quality do you like most in a man?

Salome

Kindness in a man. And hard working. I wish all men were like my father.

Me

What or who is your greatest love of your life?

Salome

God is my greatest love. I spend a lot of time reading his Word. I wanted to know so much about him that I learned to read by myself, even though I am not educated. Not everyone in my family believes the way I do. Black magic is commonly practiced here among women. They feel it gives them power. I get my power from God. He saved me from trying to kill myself.

Me

And my last question, is a fun question. What is your favourite colour?

Salome

I like red colours, bright reds.

Thank you, Salome, for the wonderful interview. I know you were nervous at first because your interview will go all over the world. But you did very well, and I am so delighted to have been able to interview you today. If any of you readers would like to read Salome’s story, click here to preview and purchase Helen Khan’s book Shrouds Over Eden.

Click Here to read Shrouds Over Eden by Helen Khan

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