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What I Learned In A Village

“Mera pati mujhe nai pasand, maar peet karta hai, sharaab peeta hai, dimag kam hai uske pass. Mai toh ab wapas nai jaane wali. Lekin hum dusri shaadi bhi nai kar sakte. Humari zindagi toh barbaad ho gai na madam.” (I don’t like my husband, he beats me up, he drinks a lot, I will not go back but we are also not allowed to marry again).

That’s what *Seema, a resident of Tirol village said. Tirol, a village near Udaipur with amazing scenic beauty surrounded by mountains and rivers, where 3 of us (me and 2 other co-fellows) entered with our single stories and probably returned with many more. As soon as we reached there, someone from the village accompanied and helped us to reach our host home. While on our way to the host home, we met various people. All of them greeted us cheerfully and invited us to their home never-mind the fact that we were completely unknown to them.

Post reaching our host home, we could see that 2 girls were eagerly waiting for us. Suddenly there was movement all over the place. After the quick introduction, they started preparing tea and lunch. After lunch, we saw that Seema and her sister already started preparation for the dinner. As it was raining heavily outside, we thought let’s stay at home for a while and talk to Seema (keeping in mind to follow the induction learning SHUT UP AND LISTEN :p process). Once I started chitchatting, it was all pleasant in the beginning, got to know about her family, her kid, but she didn’t mention about her husband. I asked out of curiosity

“Where is your daughter’s father?”, “What does he do?” She stopped me, “I don’t live with him, I don’t like him, he drinks alcohol, no one asked me whether I want to get married or not, I wanted to study but due to my family responsibilities was not able to continue, I cannot file for divorce, I cannot get married again, my whole life is ruined, I am just stuck over here …“

And soon her sister also joined the conversation and said ”Madam, I too don’t want to get married but our parents won’t listen to us, we don’t know what to do, this is the culture over here.” In the mean time our host cum guide said “Maam, let’s go outside, the rain has stopped as of now”. Although, I went outside but the whole conversation which we had inside the house was still bothering me. While we were trying to understand and know about the people and place, two kids also joined us and took the responsibility of being our guides. Soon we were talking about the schools, farms, village history  and actually were quite amazed to know about the practical knowledge which these kids had. It made me question my own self.

In this whole process of getting information, we were happy to know that education is made accessible to each and everyone in the village with the help of the government schools. Despite the fact that education is free, few of the kids still won’t go to the school and the answer came, “some parents don’t feel the need of sending their kids to schools.”

At sunset, we returned to our host, the conversations running in my head all the time. After reaching there we saw that many girls along with Seema were waiting for us. They started talking, ”Arey maam, iska bhi yahi haal hai (she is also suffering from the same circumstances). She also didn’t wanted to get married but she had to”. I could clearly feel the helplessness of not being able to do anything to change their present situations, anger behind those sparkling eyes of not being able to fight for their own rights, of not being able to live their life on their own terms and conditions. Just imagine a bird in a cage willing to fly one day and experience the wonderful colors of the whole world out there. And it’s not only about Seema or any other girl who feels like this, you can see the same aggression, same emotion in the eyes of the younger brother of Seema who is currently studying in class X. He aspires to pursue his studies further, help his sister, to be that key which will open the lock someday and let the bird with beautiful desires and dreams fly away.

But will he be able to bring back that real smile on his sister’s face?

*Names changed to protect identity

Jaiti

Jaiti, 25 years, Graduation in Engineering. Worked for 3 years in Infosys (IT) and iVolunteer (non-profit). Fellow at Quest Alliance, Samastipur, Bihar to support in setting up and running of community resource centres for better learning outcomes amongst children, in addition to supporting the existing public primary schools.

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