Continuing from my last article – Keep walking, you will find your way
I did very well at primary school. I was the topper all through 5 years. Primary school was over. It was time to start looking for admission in secondary school. There were 2 schools close enough in the area. I got admission into secondary school. This time I didn’t need an adult to help me get admission. The name of the school was “Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya”. It was an all girls school, with morning shift for girls. The same building served for boy’s school in afternoon shift.
I was in 6th A section. There were 3 girls in that class who were really good in studies. Two of the girls came to attend school from an area called Buddhvihar. It must be a walk of at least 45 minutes for them to reach to school every day. They did come from educated families. One girl (let’s call her Komal), also lived in Sultanpuri. She was very intelligent, she always scored more than me in every test – she scored the highest, I scored second highest. I was happy that she was there, I had someone to compete with. I really liked her. I loved her handwriting. She wrote like it was printed on paper. She liked my handwriting, I don’t know why though, it was good, but not as good as hers.
I had another friend (I will call her Usha) in secondary school. I would first go to her home in the morning – her mom would give me breakfast along with her and her siblings. Then Usha and I would walk together to school.
My mom didn’t like me spending all my time in studies. She wanted me to do house work, just like all other girls there. She wanted me to do exactly what she wanted and not question her. She used to beat me up a lot. She would beat me with anything that came in her hand. Flipflops, sticks, tongs, broom, utensils.
The beatings became worse and more frequent after I got into secondary school. I spent even more time studying. It made her mad. Again being a good student, I used to get books, stationary, uniform from school. I got clothes from neighbors, teachers. There were times when she burnt my clothes and books in anger to punish me. I kept my books and stationary in a bag. Whenever my mom would get angry, first thing I would do is, pick up the bag of books and run away, though I wasn’t able to save them all the time. There were times, when I was left with only the clothes that I was wearing and the rest were burnt. I was lucky that teachers helped with me books, and neighbors helped with clothes.
In secondary school, I made friends who would let me spend time at their homes to study – those who had better places to live. My mom many times would come to school, walk into the classroom and would start beating me in front of everyone in the class. Teachers liked me even more because despite those beatings and unfortunate situation at home, I was still doing very well at school. I never missed a single day at school.
The school had a music teacher, Jyoti maam. One day she was going to each class to recruit girls for group singing for Independence Day. She selected me from the class. That was first time I got to know that I could sing.
6th standard got over. Komal topped all the sections, I was the second topper among all sections. I didn’t stand a chance against Komal. First term exams finished for 7th Standard. Komal again scored the highest.
One day suddenly Komal stopped coming to school. A month passed by and she still didn’t show up. I started asking the girls who came from her neighborhood. One girl told me that Komal got married. I was shocked. We were just 12 year old kids. I started asking around about Komal. I got to know she was forcefully married – she wasn’t conscious at the time. I cried a lot. That whole year was tough for me. Komal had a great future, she was intelligent, she was a good friend. I cried for months thinking about her plight. I didn’t do very well in studies that year. I stood third, because I thought about Komal all the time. Two girls who came from Buddhvihar stood first and second. But it didn’t matter who stood first, second or third any more.
I kept wondering why Komal didn’t fight back. I thought, why didn’t she tell me about it? I would have told the teachers in school or gone to the police. They would have done something. After 2 years, I heard Komal died. She had baby by then. I don’t know how she died. It could have been for any reason – she had a baby girl, and she might be expecting another girl? Her in law’s wanted more dowry and Komal’s family could not afford to give more. These were the common reasons girls were killed by their in laws in those days.
Komal’s death made me even stronger. I told myself, no one can force me to live a life or die a death that I don’t want. I will decide what I do with my life. How I want to live it. I was determined to study even harder and create my path to success and a future I deserve.
Later on I will talk about how my mother tried to force me into marriage when I was 14 and how I stopped that from happening.
In 7th standard I learnt – You make your destiny, fight for yourself, fight for what you deserve. No one can or should be able to force you to do anything, you don’t want to.
Twitter handle – @gomtimehta1