“I used to love watching movies, noting the latest trends, dressing up and then going to a photo studio to take pictures!” Sandhya Shah says. This is a photo taken at the Timla Photo Studio in Birgunj before she was married. She is wearing a ready-made sweater that she had bought, and the kind of long skirt that was very fashionable at the time. As the eldest daughter of a rich business man in Rautahat, she was allowed to go anywhere she wanted, do anything she wanted, and buy all the clothes she wanted. But Shah’s family background isolated her. Boys did not have the courage to talk to her, and the girls had neither the freedom nor the means to join her in her travels to Birgunj, Raxaul or Kathmandu, to dress in the latest fashion, or watch the latest movies with her. People around her probably thought that her father gave her too much freedom, but he did not care – he trusted her, and Shah remains very grateful for this. “He gave me freedom, and I made sure that I did nothing to dishonour him. I respected him greatly”.

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