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As a girl, there were only some dreams she could dream. Would society permit her to realize her dreams?
There is a famous dialogue from a famous Bollywood movie which goes ‘Sapne dekho, zaroor dekho. Bas unke poore hone ki shart mat rakho’ (dream, definitely do. Just that don’t make it’s coming true a condition). And just by virtue of not giving up on her dreams, she finally gets what she wants.
So goes the story of a small town girl, Shahina.
Shahina was a young girl who lived in Mirzapur with her mother and two young brothers. She lived a carefree life with all the perks of childhood and a little more. With her father enjoying a good position at the university in the city, Shahina had her life a little different than that of the other kids in the community.
After school, while most girls had little option than to play with sticks and stones in the gully; Shahina could either relish her Enid Blyton books or join her friends for a game. Most of the kids normally walked a few kms to school, however Shahina’s father had a little extra to splurge on a new bicycle for her last birthday. These little pleasures always made her feel a little different, a little privileged from the rest.
All the other girls in Mirzapur wore head scarves to school, while they were allowed school that is. They would usually discontinue attending school at the age of 12 or 13, after which they would be expected to stay at home, get used to household chores, all set to be married before the end of their teens.
Shahina on the other hand enjoyed tons of advantages in comparison. She wore the latest dresses and hair accessories her dad brought her from the city. Post 7th grade while most of her friends dropped out, she continued school – she was the only girl in a class-room of boys. She did feel a little lonely, a little different, questioning her ‘out of normal’ life every now and then, nonetheless happy! Excited about the world of knowledge in front of her. Eager to pursue her ambitions to become a writer.
Days turned into years, and suddenly while she was in her first year of college, her father went missing. Attempts to find him were in vain. None of his friends at the university knew of his whereabouts. All of a sudden, the family was lost about what to do next.
With two brothers still at school, Shahina had to make certain tough decisions to support the family. She decided to look for work. However her father’s absence didn’t help her mother living in a typical Muslim set up to allow her to do so. Alliances were sought, and within months Shahina was wedded and off to a new home.
Life for her now, was like any other normal girl from her environment. Her husband was very supportive to her maternal family’s financial needs. In return for which, she did all she could to keep her husband and his family happy. She cooked the best meals, took great care of her 3 children and was like a daughter to her in laws. She lived as per their terms. She lived a life which her childhood dreams had no place for. However, the sheer normalcy of it all kept her happy for sometime. There were no dreams to achieve, no challenges to face.
As her kids got older, monotony hit her. She consulted her husband to finish her degree in journalism to which he happily agreed. Always good with words, she decided to join a newspaper along with working on her own book.
Professional success came to her easy. Within a couple of years she got promoted to assistant editor of the paper and her book got listed as a best seller. She met a lot of people and travelled far and wide. Her family which had got used to her constant presence, missed her.
Life changed for all of them. How much ever she tried to make time for the family, she was always competing with her previous self, and hence it was never enough.
Slowly she parted ways with them. Nothing could get her back to her previous life. Despite having lived her dreams, there was always an empty corner.
Something as plain and simple as a normal life, wasn’t for her anymore. A deep realization that normal is not something which should be taken for granted, dawned upon her. As there was no looking back, she had to make the best of what she had now. And so she did…
Image source: woman in hijab working by Shutterstock.
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