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A small town girl

Somewhere around Feb, 2005

She thought to give it a try again next morning, to convince her dad to let her pursue her dreams. Though, she knew the answer beforehand, but she was determined to give it a try till the last moment.

She was born and bought up in a very small town of UP, called Saharanpur. Perhaps many of you wouldn't even have heard the name of it. It was a place which, like any other small town, was cut off from the modern world, where people still believed in girls being a burden on the family, where girls had no right to demand for a higher education, where girl's role was strictly restricted to being a house maker, where girls were just given basic education in desire of getting  a good match for them, where girls had no individuality, no independence, no say!

Yes, she was born and bought up in that suffocating environment. But no one knew from where and when she developed those wings, that crave to fly, that urge for freedom and independence. After doing her Bachelor of Arts from a local college, she decided to pursue MBA. Perhaps, she got inspired from one of her cousins, who went to Pune to pursue his MBA. He told her about the kind of environment which is there in his university, the kind of studies, the kind of subjects, the kind of smart people who are around you! Since then, she decided not to pursue her education from local college. Even she started dreaming oabout doing an MBA, and that too from a premier college! Everybody made fun of her! Everybody, around her laughed on her insane dream. People said, you will get married in next one year, and would probably be sitting in some village and making rotis for your huge family. Everybody teased her and tried to pull her down. But she was adamant this time. For whole of her life, she had listened to her parents and done whatever they wanted her to do but this time, she will give a try to get out of these pre-set norms!

She bought few books from her pocket money to prepare for CAT and MAT. She even managed to give these exams with the help of her few friends and an amazing cousin. She even got to get good percentile in them, which was outstanding for self-preparation and that too without any guidance. But once she started getting the interview call letters, her family started getting furious. They made it very clear to her that they wouldn't be sending her anywhere for pursuing higher education. She was, certainly devastated but she dint leave the hope. And for the sake of same hope, she decided to talk to her dad on this, yet again.

With all the courage, she went to her dad next morning and said, "Dad, you know that I did not take any formal coaching for the preparation of MBA, I still managed to get calls from top colleges. Please let me go, atleast to give an interview."

The answer, though repeated and so, predictable came like a thunderstorm, "NO! I have already told you thousands times, I cannot afford to send you outside for any higher education. Now, my only aim for you is to get you married!"

And he walked off! And she, she crushed on the floor, with her dreams crushing in front of her.
She abstained eating food for 3 days, in hope that her parents would feel sympathy and would atleast think about talking to her, but they dint.

Finally, she gave up, took admission for post graduation in literature from the same local college. She started going to college. She started taking classes, she tried to forget everything, she tried to mingle with her friends there but something was constantly killing her from inside. She was just unable to destroy that passion of hers which was constantly pushing her for something higher. She knew, she was not made for this! And then, finally after one week, with lot of courage, she took the decision! Next day, she took 500 Rs from her mom, in awe of buying some course books, packed her basic stuff in her college bag. And directly went to the bus stand, bought a ticket to Delhi and boarded the bus, only to never look back! Not to mention, she was damn scared!

She reached Delhi, which was her first experience of stepping out of her native place. Her aunt (her dad's sister) had a flat in Delhi. She used to live in Dubai but occasionally she used to come to India and stay in her flat. And luckily, her aunt and her cousin had been in India those days, so she called them up. Initially they were reluctant to help her out when they came to know that she came without informing her parents but then, they bought her home, when she refused to go back and warned them to go somewhere by herself.
She called her dad, in the evening, which was obviously not a great experience. He shouted and screamed and demanded her to come back the very next day.

But she, somehow managed to make up a story in front of her mom that she needed a break so she came to Delhi and she would be back in a week. As she was staying with her aunt, her parents agreed for a week.
Now, she had one week. One week, in which she had to find out some or the other way to get to her dreams or else, she will have to go back to the same place again, and perhaps she would never get a chance to get out of that place then... ever.

She started reading newspapers, started speaking to her cousin's friends in hope of getting a way. But everybody said the same thing, to return back. Eventually, she started getting disappointed, when one day she saw an ad in a newspaper, of one of the media institutes called Pratyaksh, which was owned by one of the prominent media personality, Mr Manoj Raghuvanshi . The entrance were happening for getting enrolled into the same. She decided to give it a shot. Here, her cousin supported her completely and took her to that institute next morning. She cleared the entrance, She was even selected in the audition by Mr. Raghuvanshi, who got really impressed by her audacity and that raw zeal and passion. She took admission in one of courses of electronic media reporting. She was even given an exemption in the fees and also, she could pay the rest of the amount whenever she wanted.

Now, she had  a full fledged dream, that she wanted to fulfill. She was, obviously full of ecstasy until her cousin reminded her of her parents. What would she tell her parents? They would never agree to this.
She decided to hide it from that. Her dad always had this dream of having one of his children as IAS officers. She took it as an opportunity and  told her parents that she wanted to prepare for IAS, and Delhi is the best place for that. Her parents agreed finally after lot of convincing from her and her cousin. Now, she had everything she ever yearned for, an opportunity to prove herself. But she forgot it was momentary.

She did not tell her parents for the next one year. They thought she was preparing for IAS, but she was, busy with her media life. She had already finished two courses and obviously, after seeing her determination, Mr. Raghuvanshi gave her an internship in his own production house. He even started mentoring her throughly. She did all the hard work that was required to build her career. She knew she had no time, so she had put all her energies into learning and working hard! Many times, she had no money for dinners, which never bothered her. She even used to walk  from Mayur Vihar, Delhi to Noida, just to save 10 buck of the bus! She could have asked for money from her parents but she never wanted to burden them too much for her own selfish motives.

There were days, when she just used to have water for dinner and yet, used to be happy. There were days when she used to work continuously for 2 days, and used to take little naps in office only. This all sounds so exaggerated but, I wish I could somehow put her intensity and passion here in words, which is so clearly visible in  her eyes even today after almost 10 years of the incident!

Anyways, then came one day, when her mom called her and asked her when was her course finishing as it has already been an year and with that call, came another alarm of making a decision.

But, now she was used to taking bold decisions and so, she decided to write a letter to her dad, in which she mentioned about everything that she faced since childhood, the discrimination, that insult and every damn thing and also, mentioned about the truth of her media course. The letter ended upto 8 pages! And finally, she posted it without thinking twice! And now, she started waiting for her dad's call anxiously. But the call dint come. After around two days, her house bell rang in the morning. She opened the door and before she could realize something, there was a thunderous slap on her face! She couldn't breath for a moment and took few seconds to look into the eyes of her dad, which were filled with rage and anger. Her dad only said, "pack your bags!"

She did packed her bags, but not completely. Because she was determined to come back... Come back and accomplish what she dreamed for... come back and complete her journey. She was determined not to leave it there: unfinished and incomplete!

She went back to Saharanpur and waited to 2 days, for her dad to call her and talk to her but he dint. She was unable to breath, she was dying to go back to the world of her dreams.
3rd day, or rather night, when she was unable to sleep and getting desperate to get into 4 AM's train to Delhi, she went to her dad's room at around 2.30 AM, held his feet and just said, "Please let me go! I am not made for here! I am not made to be kept captured! I will die... I will die! This is not my life. I beg you for my life." And tears started rolling down her cheeks

Her dad, looking at her, speechlessly, mesmerized by her passion, her zeal to achieve something, unbelievably, just said, "Pack your bags!"

And there she was, like a bird, with new wings, flying high in the air, ready to conquer the world, went back to her valley of dreams.

She, the woman, the mardaani I am talking about is me! I have no idea what gave me that courage to leave my home! I used get shit scared of my dad, but when it came to my dreams, I just got some strength from somewhere! Even today, I wonder what made me so brave, just not only to stand for but also, to fight for my rights, with the conventional and orthodox society that I was living in, or rather was just breathing in! It was not easy! Believe me! I had to fight all, including my parents, relatives, neighbours, cousins, all! Everybody was adamant to pull me down. But I thank God for granting me that invisible strength that time!Only one thing kept me moving, if boys have a right to choose their own life, why not we: girls?

Today, I have everything I ever aspired for: an amazing job, an amazing husband and an amazing life! Thanks to those instincts of mine that made me take that bold step in life. Otherwise, I would have got married there itself somewhere and would have been living a life, that no woman wants to lead: a life of no individuality! Many of my cousins and friends have already got trapped into it.

And the most touching part of the story is, today I am a proud daughter of a proud dad! My dad, today says to everyone, "I have no contribution in my girl's success. Its her own!"

After that, I tried my best to change the life of my sisters, my cousins and all the girls whom I could help.Even today,  I make sure to help these girls, by talking to their parents, explaining them the importance of good education, telling them how necessary it is for a girl to stand on her feet and be independent and its only them who can provide them with that immense support that they need. I just ask them to become the pillars of their daughter's life, instead of becoming obstacles!

Its my dream to give courage to all the girls I know, who are still trapped in that society, to break the conservative perception of their families,of people around them and make their own life. All I tell them is, "If I can do it, even you can!" I want to see all those girls, independent and confident:)


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