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But there are women who dare to go beyond the conventional, beyond the limits, beyond the possible, beyond the permissible. And that defines their potential.
Kavya took a deep breath and looked towards the ocean. The view was breathtaking. She saw a flock of seagulls dancing to their own rhythm, and a setting sun beyond. Today was her forty fifth birthday and she missed her friend Nikhil a lot. He would have been proud of her.
Kavya was the black sheep of the family since the beginning. Hailing from a small town, with limited access to opportunities and the third among her siblings, Kavya was never recognised for her penchant for writing, or for contributing to society. While her two elder brothers were praised and encouraged for their academic achievements, she was conveniently ignored as a girl with no apparent signs of becoming a successful person (since success was defined as becoming an engineer, doctor, or at least a civil servant!).
In the spring of 1998 Kavya was in junior college, when she met Nikhil. They fell in love instantly. He was the first person to acknowledge her affinity for literature and writing. He always urged & challenged her to write something out of the box. He always said, “make your dreams larger than life!”
But society and their families saw their association as an insult to their culture. They were from different castes. Soon both were issued a warning to stay away from each other, or face the consequences. In this case the consequences being severe and unspeakable.
They continued to see each other secretly. Then one winter morning Kavya received a phone call that numbed her senses. It was a call from Nikhil’s parents. Nikhil was missing from home since the previous night.
Kavya’s world came crashing down. She knew what must have happened.
Forty-eight hours later… Kavya was informed that Nikhil’s body was recovered from a desolate place six kilometres away from home. Police information said that it was a case of suicide. Kavya was immediately sent to Delhi to stay with her aunt and continue her education there.
Either she could succumb to the circumstances, cry, weep, wail, and ultimately live a life society had planned for her, or she could look beyond society and live the larger-than-life dream she and Nikhil had shared. Kavya choose the latter. She worked hard and got herself into the university of Pennsylvania to pursue masters in English Literature. She also got actively involved in various NGOs working for the upliftment & education of women and underprivileged children. Against the wishes of her family she chose not to marry.
“It is a paradox of society and culture: a woman is also known as the womb of the universe. But every day this womb of the universe is killed inside the womb. Choosing your own life partner is against culture, marrying a total stranger isn’t. To fall in love is a matter of shame, but to kill in the name of culture is honour. It is safe, if not easy, to succumb to social norms. But there are women who dare to go beyond the conventional, beyond the limits, beyond the possible, beyond the permissible. And that defines their potential.”
She read it one more time, and now she was completely satisfied. Those were the lines from the last page of her book “Beyond”. A collection of short stories about social horrors like honour killing and female foeticide.
She stood up, and looked at herself in the mirror. The person who was staring back at her was not the forty five year old woman, but the young girl who had once dreamt about writing her own book. She looked happy.
Kavya held the book close, and set out for her first book reading & signature event at the publishing house.
Image source: shutterstock
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