Shankari felt relaxed as she retired for the day. The plush diaphanous comforter seemed to augment her somnolence. Just when she was about to doze off her thoughts dragged her into the abrasive and meandering lanes of the past.
Despite being a quick-witted and smart girl, she wasn’t allowed to complete her studies. “Too much education ruins women” hollered the honchos of panchayat forcing Shankari’s dad to get her married.
Shankari was a bright young girl who nurtured unique dreams. Though her parents were supportive and coddled her uniqueness, society was hell-bent on making her dreams follow the mundane route.
Her young teacher Hari, who was extremely educated took extra care to hone Shankari’s academic skills which all the more fueled the Panchayat to impose their decision on Shankari’s father.
As a docile person and reticent individual, Shankari’s father succumbed to the societal pressure and got her married off pronto. Her father had pleaded with folded hands requesting Shankari’s husband Raghav to let her pursue studies. Alas! Not only were Shankari’s dreams obliterated but she was even forced to sever her ties with her parents. She was forced to lead the humdrum life within the four walls of the kitchen and domestic chores. Her relationship with books and knowledge was almost extinct.
During the night, when the darkness expanded her angelic arms, she lost herself within the books. It was the stipulated time for her rendezvous with books and knowledge. Within a year, she was blessed with a baby girl, and with overwhelming and ancillary chores garnished with maternal responsibilities she could barely find time for herself let alone the books.
As Shankari’s daughter Parvati displayed the same interest in books Shankari was adamant to stand against society and her husband to let Parvati fulfill her dreams.
Time moved at warp speed and Parvati was an adolescent now.
“She should be ready by 5:30 PM, the Zamindars of Phulia will be visiting sharp at 6:00 PM” commanded Raghav along with ordering for an elaborate and flamboyant menu to welcome them.
Shankari using her contact with Hari had made the required arrangements.
At 4:00 PM just when Raghav was out to check the dealings of the day in his barn, Shankari with super precision took out Parvati’s pre-packed trunk. With angry tears escaping her eyes she muttered “Remember, you are a woman who is strong and intelligent. You’ve every right to live your dream to live your life. Walk out of here, into the sunshine, no hiding, and no trepidation. You will study, work, and choose your partner someday. You won’t be a slave to anyone, you’ll take your own decisions. And I’ll always be there, to watch over you and guide you when needed. I’ll marvel in your success, bless you for your journey ahead and be at solace with myself when I see you happy and successful. Since times immemorial despite knowing it all we’ve been crushed and dominated. Now it’s the time to show the world, we can and we will”
“Maa..why are you still awake”? questioned Parvati folding her stethoscope “I was caught up in an emergency Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. I understand you are getting adjusted to the city life, I’m glad you’ve completed a month today”.
Shankari held her daughter’s face within her palms and gazed at her with fathomless love and pride.
With glistened eyes, Shankari sighed “I know everything. Get changed fast, I’ll serve dinner…I’m hungry too”