“I was 16-years old, and it was his third marriage. I simply had no say in the matter. I did not want to marry him. He was around 33 or 35 years of age at the time.”

Jailed in Saudi Kerala woman returns to find ex-husband occupying her homeAll Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair
news Gulf Migrants Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 18:48

After spending four years in a Saudi Arabia prison on trumped up charges, Rahmath returned to Nedumangad, her hometown in Thiruvananthapuram, only to find out that she had no home.

“Eight years of hard work in a foreign land, and I now have absolutely nothing to show for it,” Rahmath says.

Her troubles began when she was married 15 years ago. “I was 16-years old, and it was his third marriage. I simply had no say in the matter. I did not want to marry him. He was around 33 or 35 years of age at the time.”

Three years after the wedding, the couple went to Saudi Arabia in search of employment. They began working in the house-keeping department of a hospital.

“He would never allow me to access my salary. When I asked for money, the only thing I got were thrashings from him. I bore it all for the sake of my aged parents,” Rahmath says.

After seven years of toil in Saudi Arabia, they were able to buy a house and six cents of land in Thiruvananthapuram with her hard-earned money and 250 grams of gold that her parents had given her. In 2010, her husband returned home from abroad, saying his father was sick. 

Rahmath continued to work in Saudi Arabia but was forced to return to Nedumangad when her mother fell sick a year later. 

“My employer refused to sanction my leave, so I had no choice but to come without his permission,” Rahmath says. 

When Rahmath rushed back to India, her husband welcomed her home with a divorce. After her mother was well again, she was left with no option but to look for another job, as she could not return to her earlier job, given that her sponsor had not approved her leave. 

“I worked for a year in Kuwait. When I was arrested, I realised my Saudi employer had slapped a false case against me, alleging that I had stolen his money and jewellery. In 2012, I found myself in prison.” 

It was only with the help of the Indian Embassy and a few social activists there that she managed to execute her release and return to her native place of birth.

Returning to her hometown six days ago, Rahmath was in for yet another betrayal. “I was given to understand that the house we bought with my money was in my name. But he lives there with his new wife. He may have lied to me… I have no idea of how this happened.” 

The house the only thing she thought she could fall back on. “I cannot even go back to the UAE now looking for another job. I have no tears left, maybe because I used it all up since puberty,” she says, with hardly any show of emotion.

With no house, no savings, no money, Rahmath does not have the slightest inkling as to what the future has in store for her. “During the time I spent jailed, I came across many people like me. Most rot away, trapped in a place with no one to rush to their succour, while a few like me escape. It seems to me that almost all migrant labourers abroad who are cheated have a similar story to tell,” Rahmath shares, the lingering pause a cue that she had nothing left to say.

All Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair