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Drunk on the possibility of putting her in her proper place, a girl who had repeatedly stolen their thunder, they decided to punish and humiliate her. Four of them got together and assaulted her, as she desperately tried to break free.
Riya, a regular class topper, approached the exam hall with a spring in her step. She had worked hard for years, and was confident of acing her board exams. This was when all her hard work was going to pay off. She looked forward to seeing the pride in her father’s eyes, and the happiness gushing out of her mother. Her grandparents, she knew, would get all teary-eyed too.
With the usual smile on her face, she opened up the paper and attacked it with gusto. Everything was going so well, until she came across one question that baffled her. Was she reading it correctly?
This objective question did not even call for a discussion, but expected her to pick from four choices, none of which did were options she would pick. Could it be possible, that this education that was supposed to liberate her, was suggesting the possibility that she and the likes of her were to blame for ill-behaved children and messed up families?
She felt nauseated. The education she had pinned her hopes upon was failing her.
She wondered what was going through the minds of the boys in her class, the ones who hated her for outdoing them. The idea of them smirking as they read the passage in the board exam paper, nauseated her. It made her blood boil. She was hardly able to concentrate. But her self discipline prevailed, and after a few minutes she was able to reign in her emotions and work on the paper, giving it her best shot. As much as she loathed the question, she would not let it defeat her, she decided, and forged on.
As she left the exam hall, she remembered a factual question with a simple answer on a paper a few days ago that the board had promptly apologized for. She had no idea why, but if ever a question needed an apology, it was the one that had haunted her today. It was discriminatory, deliberately designed to sabotage ambitious young girls by upsetting them at a crucial time.
What she did not foresee, was how much that offending paragraph had riled up some of the boys at the exam center. She was a tad discomfited by their leering gaze, but she tried to ignore it. Little did she know how much a few of the boys had been emboldened and inflamed by the ideas shared in their exam paper. Drunk on the possibility of putting her in her proper place, a girl who had repeatedly stolen their thunder, they decided to punish and humiliate her. Four of them got together and assaulted her, as she desperately tried to break free.
By the time help came, she was badly injured. In great pain with broken bones and utterly humiliated, she was unable to give her best to the next few exams. She wondered if the board would ever apologize. Education was supposed to empower her, but it had only succeeded in betraying her. She knew that for sure, when she learned what the expected answer to that horrifying question was.
Author’s note: This story was inspired by some very disturbing news that made its way to my news feed today. Here is the link to the news article titled: Emancipation of wife destroyed parent authority over child: CBSE Class 10 paper. Horrified by the possible ramifications of such a question in a board exam paper, I felt compelled to write a story illustrating just how damaging the effects can be.
Update: The opposition parties were outraged by this question and brought up the issue in parliament and the board has finally recanted the question, albeit without any formal apology.
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Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to entertain her older daughter with stories, thus opening the flood gates on a suppressed passion. Today she has written over read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
From all news reports, clearly, Aftab Poonawalla seems to be a psychopath, and It was a well-strategized story of domestic violence, abuse, subjugation, and a well-planned murder.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence, gaslighting, murder, and abetting violence, and may be triggering to survivors.
One case has gripped the nation and I do not need to mention which. My problem is with how the news reflects a victim’s character. The disrespect we show to someone who was long abused and lives no more is appalling. The disservice we do to her through spoken and written words lies in the sensationalizing of the entire case.
How do you spot a crazy human? They do not have two horns and red eyes. They may have no empathy but will show it to lure the victim, just like a child abuser lures a child with candy. Their grooming styles may vary but it is mostly about creating an untrue sense of safety and security around the victim. They present themselves as this effortless savior, an ultimate generous destination for a mentally and emotionally vulnerable person.
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