The day was hot and humid. The sun was gnarling mercilessly and kept attacking with its penetrating and unbearable rays. The whole atmosphere seemed helpless and silent, even a mirage in the desert was a distant dream. Sitted on a corner window seat on the bus, that was crawling slowing on a lonely path that connects parts of Rajasthan; I couldn’t help, but to stare around.
The bus was crowded, but the passengers had settled well as the next stoppage would come after two hours. The silence and monotony overcame my senses and I was desperate to find another way to pass the time. Amidst the crowd, I spotted a girl not more than 20 years of age, wearing a traditional Rajasthani dress. Her colorful attire was full of traditional Rajasthani designs with hand woven mirror work that looked indeed very attractive. Glued by the innocence of her persona and the mesmerizing dress, but I couldn’t resist striking a conversation with her.
Somewhere in it, it emerged that she is the ninth daughter of her parents and that’s why named ‘navli.’ Her elder eight sisters were married and couldn’t get the basic education. She is the first girl in the village to be privileged to attend the high school in the neighboring village. Being a girl and that too a member of scheduled tribe, she faced so many difficulties to continue her education. Her inner strength and determination to seek proper education steered her through all odds. Sensing her fearing spirit and never-giving up attitude, even the villagers had come up to support her. They realized the power of education and how the education had changed her perspective. Together, the villagers had elected her the ‘sarpanch’ of the village and since then, she has been continuously working for the welfare of the village.
Awestruck and surprised, I kept listening to her story. There was a tsunami of questions and feelings going on my mind. This brave girl had changed me as a person, completely. “What do you plan to do next, navli?” “After coming back from Australia, I felt my duty towards the society isn’t limited to my village. There is a lot to do, now. I will have to fight against the cruelties towards the women and for that I am doing my best to unite women in my area. “ Replied Navli with a glowing confidence in her eyes.
“Don’t you want to settle down in life?” I asked. “Marriage… it is a dream of every girl in the world, but I have pledged to change lives and that requires sacrifice. Why to yearn for a single family when you can be a part of a larger family or a society?” A prompt reply came from this young girl.
Her answer left me speechless and I realized I had nothing more to ask from her. At her young age, her inner aura, the power of her determination and dedication were shadowing me. I felt weak, disturbed and, small as it was a new awakening to my whole perspective.