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Torchbearer

I could hear my phone ringing in the bedroom. I rushed to pick it up. It was Radha.
Congratulations! You’ve been selected in UPSC!
I was speechless for a minute. All I blurted was a thankyou and then my mind drifted away three years down the memory lane.

I remember it as a lazy Sunday morning, a bit colder than the other ones. I could see tiny dewdrop on my window pane. There was a certain numbness even in the extremities. I did not want to get out of while bed and fell asleep again. Suddenly, I woke up hearing my mother’s voice, “Abhya, get up. Your uncle just arrived in the town.”
He had come up with some marriage proposal for me. The son of the village Pradhan had come back from the city after completing his higher studies and the Pradhan was looking a fair match for him.
My father was a simple primary teacher while the Pradhan was a rich person. There was no comparison between the two families. But as it were the will of God, amongst so many other girls I was selected for the young man. Pre-wedding ceremony date was fixed. My father was a man of principles who was against dowry. He declared that neither would he give nor take dowry for the marriage of his daughter and son. For the first time, I saw the young man Vikas. He was handsome and smart just like a shahari Babu. I was glad to find such a match, though I wanted a few more years to complete my studies.
But my father had other liabilities too.
I got married. Everything was normal for a few months. I was satisfied with my life. I served my in-laws more than I ever did my parents. But for the last few months, everything was not okay.
I felt a behaviour of negligence towards me. I was unable to understand why this change.
I tried to ask my husband Vikas but he was mum. Through some friend in neighbourhood, I came to know that my in-laws were now repenting our match as they got no money, no jewellery and no household article as dowry.

I was feeling the same bitterness and numbness, I felt on that cold winter morning when my uncle had come with the proposal. But today I did not want to sleep any longer. I wanted to wake up and choose my own path as early as possible.

I called Radha, the only person in the neighbourhood who was willing to help me openly. She had the courage to speak her mind and say what was right and what was wrong. With her help, I arranged some books for competitive examination. Whenever I got spare time from my household chores, I absorbed myself in them. Among these was a book full of inspirational quotes.
I found some lines by Michelle Obama which inspired me the most. The two lines changed my attitude towards life forever. The lines were…
“DO NOT BRING PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO WEIGH YOU DOWN. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, GOOD RELATIONSHIPS FEEL GOOD, THEY FEEL RIGHT, THEY DON’T HURT.”
I thought that separation would be better than to be hanged or burnt. I did not want to create a critical situation.
I asked Vikas to divorce me and remarry some lady of fortune. For some reason, he was at a fix, but I was determined. I took some of my belongings, all my degrees and some money which I had earned by writing articles in some popular magazines.
Now it was my turn to move to the city to achieve my goal. I did not want to live with such greedy and deceitful people. Here too, Radha helped me with some money and her precious advice. She also assured me that she would remain in touch forever and for any type of help anytime I needed.
The night had set in. Standing in front of the mirror, I could already picture myself in khaki with stars adorning my shoulder.

This was my second attempt. Determined to fight injustice, that night I finally drowsed into the most peaceful sleep I had had in the past three years.

 

 

Pic Credit: Canva

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