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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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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
She was sure she was dying of cancer the first time her periods came. Why did her mother not explain anything? Why did no one say anything?
Sneha still remembers the time when she had her first period.
She was returning home from school in a cycle-rickshaw in which four girls used to commute to school. When she found something sticky on the place where she was sitting, she wanted to hide it, but she would be the first girl to get down and others were bound to notice it. She was a nervous wreck.
As expected, everyone had a hearty laugh seeing her condition. She wondered what the rickshaw-wallah thought of her. Running towards her home, she told her mother about it. And then, she saw. There was blood all over. Was she suffering from some sickness? Cancer? Her maternal uncle had died of blood cancer!
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