The Education Universe
There was a huge storm. The roof of the hut had almost blown off. You could hear the patter of raindrops from miles away. CRASH!!! One of the walls broke and cracked. At least this was what my mother told me. That I was born during a storm.
Hi, I’m Preeti. I am fourteen. I live in Bihar, in a village named Deo. I am a very petite girl, who prefers to wear a cheap top and jeans. Even though I’m a little underweight, I’m still taller than other girls of my height.
Money at my house is a huge need. My father works as a vegetable vendor on the streets. He gets up at 6 in the morning, and comes back at 11pm after work. We don’t get to see him much. Even though he spends his sweat and blood earning money for the family, he only earns 2,500 rupees a week. He works on the road side, arguing with all the customers that 1kg of potatoes are for 20 rupees, and not 10 rupees. I don’t understand the logic of city people. If they can buy a frock for themselves for a thousand, they can surely buy 1kg of potatoes for 20 rupees.
I enjoy studying but my mother doesn’t let me. She thinks women should only do the household work. She says that studying is for boys, and only they should earn the money to keep the house running.
I’ve always wanted to become a doctor. Every week, I go to the free library the government has built in my village, to take all the science books and go home. I have to be really sneaky so I go wearing my mother’s clothes, and some makeup to make my skin less tanned. People need to think that I am an adult, as I don’t want them to ask me what’s going on, or why was I there. Well, after getting the books, I hide them under my bed as I read only at night when no one sees what I’m doing.
Everyday, my mother wakes me up at 5am, to go and fetch water from the river, which is five miles away from my house. I walk to the river with a group of adults, but they don’t seem to mind, because who are they to tell my mother? Most part of the way is basically sand but that’s the only way to go to the river to get water. We go through the scorching heat, a whole lot of scorpions, and then through a sea of bugs. A person almost died once by being bitten by an adult scorpion. What we go through are baby scorpions and they just sting.
I get very tired by the time I get back but I have been doing it since the age of 5. My mother gives me the liberty to rest for an hour or two after I get back. Then I have to go milk the cows, wash the clothes, and pretty much all the household work, except cooking as my mother does that. I don’t know how to cook and she never asked me if I wanted to learn or not. (I’ve always wanted to.)
I can finally go to sleep at about 11:00 or something. It’s not fair as it’s just six hours of sleep. Just SIX! I get really tired but my mother doesn’t care that much. I have tried explaining to her that kids need a good amount of rest and sleep to stay healthy.
She just said, “Fine by me. I’ll do all the work, right? Stop whining and complaining like a dog, and get up at six to start your work.”
Found it! I lost this book a long time ago! As I read all of this, my whole life came alive in front of my eyes. While cleaning my old box of the various objects I had collected over the years, I just found my diary, which I had lost five years ago. I almost forgot about it but reading it, all memories came alive. And yes, now I am nineteen years old.
Now mom’s forcing me to get married so that two more men can earn for the family. Like I told you, she thinks that only men should earn and if I get married we will have to live in a joint family, in which there will be two more men to earn. She just doesn’t get the fact that I am a child, not some tool to make money, or do all the work!
Well, that is pretty much it. I am getting out of here. I’m taking all my belongings from here, but my book. It’s going to hold the note that I’ve run away.
“Preeti! Preeti! Where are you?! Preeti! Preeti!”
My parents were trying to find me day and night. After the note that I had left behind in my diary, my mom got this awkward sensation in her stomach that they will become broke in a few days. She didn’t really worry that I was still her daughter and was missing.
They had started searching in the deep woods, and I don’t understand why they did that. What kind of an idiot goes alone in the forest AT NIGHT? Anyway, then they searched in the other huts, just in case someone abducted me. Still no luck and till then, I thought that I was in a safe place.
Then they went back home, and mom wailed, “Now how will we be able to make more money?”
Dad got really angry, and yelled “OUR DAUGHTER’S MISSING, AND YOU CARE ABOUT MONEY? THAT’S EXACTLY WHY SHE RAN AWAY! BECAUSE YOU NEVER CARED ABOUT HER. She has always wanted to become a doctor. Not a maid! If you would just have let her study, none of this would have happened. She could have got what she wanted, and she could have got a job in the hospital, when she could save hundreds of lives, and could stay happy! If I am out of the house, you have your rules. But this is OUT OF THE LIMITS!”
“I’ll go and call the police.” said mom, almost tearing up.
She finally realized that she had never kept me as a daughter. She always thought that money was not more important. Finally she realized what she had done, and regretted it instantly. She tried to remember the last time I had even smiled but couldn’t because I barely did. Dad didn’t talk to her in those few days, nor did he eat food.
The police had finally found me after two days. They went with the dogs.
BOW! BOW! BOW! I have ear sensitivity. The sound of the ten dogs searching for me were like ten bombs. It wasn’t very hard to find me though. I was at my aunt’s place a few ten miles away from my village. I really doubted that it would be easy to find me. Well, I was pretty wrong.
“Preeti! We were so worried about you!” Mom said.
“Yeah, as if” I said sarcastically.
“No really. I have decided, money is not important. Go study, and do whatever you want from now on, you can wake up at 9, and sleep at 10. If you want, go out and make some friends.”
It was like a wave of rage and happiness at the same time jolted inside me. It was hard to believe mom would actually say that. I even pinched myself to know that it wasn’t a dream. Well, it wasn’t. It was the happiest moment of my life and felt as if I was in the stars.
Four years and I am back from my college. And guess what? I got my Phd. and now I’m a doctor. I am going to New Delhi, to work as a Neurosurgeon. But first, I need to go back to my parents in Bihar, in a village named Deo.
This story is the result of The Writer’s Workshop, conducted by Nidhi Saini, author, communication skills trainer, emotional clarity coach and confidence consultant.www.nidhisaini.com
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