SRINAGAR: Kulsum, a young girl in her late twenties is busy spinning a charkha in a room of her home in the city outskirts. Her mother Zareefa makes sure she is neither alone nor idle.
Kulsum is not even allowed to sleep alone in her own room. If she is not spinning the wheel, her mother keeps her busy in other household chores. Kulsum invited these curbs on her when she did what came as a shocker for her parents, relatives and neighbours. She had eloped with a girl.
“I deliberately deny her space as I fear she would run away again,” says Zareefa. For her, Kulsum is “mentally sick” for falling in love with another girl. But for Kulsum, the affair was a “vent for years of frustrations”.
Kulsum’s parents had been looking for a match for her for the past three years. A class 12 dropout, she had to face rejection every time a boy came to see her because of her obesity.
“I would cry. Sometimes I won’t have food and broke window panes. I hated myself for not being pretty,” says Kulsum.
Kulsum would share her feelings with her friend Nargis.
“She would sympathise with me. That’s what I wanted. Her presence was a blessing,” says Kulsum.
Soon the girls were in love. Nargis was a lesbian and Kulsum came to know about it very soon. The affair was so intense that they decided to elope. For 18 days, they lived in a rented apartment in Shivpora.
Back home, Kulsum’s family tried to keep the elopement a secret. But they could not. Very soon, the neighbours and relatives came to know about it.
Unaware of their daughter’s affair with another girl, they thought Kulsum had eloped with some boy. When their efforts to trace her failed, they approached police who eventually located the couple.
“We had such cases earlier also,” says a policeman who was part of the team that found Kulsum and her friend.
Sabreena Qadri, registrar at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at the SMHS Hospital, who is counseling Kulsum, says she has encountered case of this kind for the first time.
Kulsum’s father feels “mortified by entire thing”
“I have seen girls eloping with boys. But I have never heard of a girl eloping with another girl,” he says.
He has been the object of hate, ridicule and taunts of his neighbours, some of whom tried to incite others into boycotting the family. But they relented after he told them about his daughter’s psychiatric treatment.
Sabreena believes that Kulsum has developed inferiority complex and depression because of frequent rejections.
Noted psychiatrist Dr Arshad Hussain says, “We need to deal with such patients very carefully as there can be multiple dimensions associated with their behavior. It can be identity issues, depression, etc. We need to examine them properly and then draw a conclusion.”