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There are 788.84 crore people in the world and 140.76 crores people in India as per the reports that were released in 2021. One of these crores of people living in India is Srishti who is just like any other girl you may find next door. What is so special about her story then? Umm… Looking at the number of people living on earth, it does not seem to be that easy to leave your footprints behind. But, Srishti is very different than the people in the world or for that matter different from the people in India at least. Srishti hails from the Nawabon-ki- Nagri Lucknow which is known for its culture or Tehzeeb. She belongs to a simple nuclear family which has her father, mother, one younger sister and a younger brother. Her family is like yet another family? NO! It is a strict old-style family with a reputed business of gold and diamond jewellery. Shhh!! We have reached her home. Come, let us have a look at a day in Srishti’s life and see how she stands out of the box.

“Chhan,” “Chhan”, “Chhan”, the melodious sound of the anklets surrounded the whole house and a girl came running downstairs with a visibly graceful smile plastered on her face, she was wearing a beautiful baby pink Anarkali suit while her hair strands slightly came over her eyes. She tucked them behind her ear and called for her mother, “Maa, Maa….” She hastily looked for her handbag which she suddenly realised was already hanging on her shoulder and then ran across the hall looking for the keys of her scooty which were at last found on their right place where all keys were hanging neatly before Srishti touched them. “What have you done to my neat and clean drawing room?” Srishti turned around to find her mother looking at her angrily and replied with expressions full of her child like antics, “Maa, where is my water bottle? I am getting very late for college.” Her mother rolled her eyes and replied, “Here is your bottle and here is your tiffin. I should not find the lunch box full when you come back. And, you are late because of your own unorganised self. You are never on time.” A voice came in agreement of her mother’s words, “Beta, if you wouldn’t value your time today, time wouldn’t value you tomorrow.” She looked aside to find her father standing ready in his fine office wear. He offered to drop her to college on the way to which she agreed and both left home together. When her father started on the same topic on the way, she said, “Those who have the courage to look at their dreams with open eyes, work day and night for them can run the hands of the clock according to them.” Her father smiled and replied, “This is not how it is my dear daughter. The wheel of time runs very fast and soon situations change. You are a girl. You will have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders soon then you might not be able to do a lot of things that you have dreamt of. Fulfil as many of your dreams as you can now because now is the time. Soon, you will be married to someone and your life would revolve around him and his family’s needs. Your wishes or needs would not be yours alone.” Srishti’s face was blank, throat aching in a never-ending silence and eyes speaking volumes on her father’s words. Just then the car stopped in front of her college with a jerk that brought her back to this real bad world of rituals that decide futures without consent. She gave a faint smile to her father and got down from the car. The sparkle that was there moments ago on that face was missing. She was no longer the same Srishti. Something had died within her, maybe that was her confidence and faith in her superhero- ‘HER FATHER.’ An image of the protected world she was living in was broken today.

She was walking through the narrow lanes of her college corridor lost in her own world of thoughts. The multiple joyous, excited, sad, happy, and nervous noises of the youth around her did not attract her today because she was busy dealing with her own conflicts. She was busy fighting a battle within her. She was busy finding the definition of ‘ideal’ in the seemingly obvious yet very messed up structure of our society that considers a ‘woman’ to be the queen of the house, the nurturer of life, the one who endures all pain and struggles and the one who is the epitome of love and sacrifice and yet shackles her up in every aspect; be it in terms of sacrificing her career, whole life and dreams for marriage or be it in terms of educating her or be it in terms of making her more aware or be it in terms of anything whatsoever. She questioned her existence to understand the existence of the fellow girls of her age who are battling between the choice of career or marriage, “I was given all that I wanted since I was born dad. You got me everything beautiful and nice since childhood. I was your first child and you ran happily to every house in the neighbourhood on my arrival with dozens of sweet boxes saying, “I have got the prettiest angel on earth.” You raised me to be a lioness and always gave me the best. Then, why did you shackle me in this system made for women by a man today? Why is marriage the limit to my achievements and dreams? Why is sindoor the borderline to my goals? Why do you want your lioness to bow down to something that brings her nothing but tons of limitations and boundaries?”

2 Days Later
(Srishti’s Drawing Room)

A middle-aged well-dressed couple along with a young man of about 29 years of age were sitting on one of the sofas while Srishti’s parents were sitting on the other. Srishti entered with five cups of tea arranged in a tray. She was wearing a light green kanjiwaram saree and small gold earrings. She served the tea and was told to sit by the lady who had come with the young man.

The lady broke the awkward silence and said, “Tell me something about yourself beta Srishti.” Before Srishti could say anything, her mother started on her behalf, “She is a simple and shy girl who is very homely in nature. She has only done her schooling and then we taught her all domestic skills like cooking, taking care of the house and in future her husband.” Srishti was looking at her mother in shock as she lied about her whole education, personality, nature, and knowledge of domestic skills. The young man’s mother continued, “Why are you looking at your mother bache and Mrs. Sharma will you only tell everything about her, let her speak too.” She smiled at Srishti and asked, “What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?” Yet again, before Srishti could answer, her mother hopped in and replied, “She likes to sing our traditional folk and bhakti songs.” This time Srishti was sunken in a deep and grave silence of extreme disappointment on her mother’s lies about her choices. The so-called handsome young guy’s mother excitedly added, “We always wanted such a well-behaved, tradition loving and mature girl who is connected to her roots for our Suraj. They would be a perfect match according to me. Beta Suraj, do you like her?” Suraj gazed at Srishti from top to bottom with an evil smirk on his face and said, “Yes mom, I love her as I always wished for a medium heighted, slim, beautiful, and less qualified girl for myself who would not question me or my will after marriage. It is a ‘yes’ from my end.” Both of Suraj’s parents looked at each other, nodded with a smile and his father said, “If you are okay and don’t have any questions then we can fix a date for their marriage.” Srishti’s parents quickly gave their consent but suddenly a deeply angry voice came from behind, “It is not okay yet. I have some questions for Suraj.” Suraj’s mother had an awkward expression on her face hearing what Srishti had asked for and said in an uncomfortable tone, “Yes…. I mean…. What questions?” Srishti’s father gave her a look with his eyes widened to the largest level and her mother quickly came, stood by her side, wrapped her hands across her shoulder and said, “Srishti…. Come on…. What questions would you ask? This article mentions your favorite hats at super low prices. Choose from same-day delivery, drive-up delivery or order pickup.

We have already asked every question and done all the enquiries on our end and it was after that only that we agreed to meet and fix things. You come inside with me quietly and let them go.” The moment her mother was about to take her inside, she gently removed her hands from her shoulder and all that had created a mess of emotions inside her came out in seconds, “What do you mean by you and dad have done all the enquiries maa? Why are you telling me to not ask questions and come inside with you? Why is dad widening his eyes and telling me to shush when it is my right to ask questions; specially to someone with whom my life is going to be associated forever? And mom, dad how come you both alone took this decision without even asking for my consent once? I must spend my life with this person whom I have seen for the very first time today. How is that even possible? What do I know about him after all ?You are saying you have done all the enquiries. So, did it come out in that enquiry that only a girl with a minimum qualification of class XII should be married to him? This certainly means that this person and his family are of backward thoughts and need a robot who will follow all their orders and not a daughter in-law or wife. You have done all the enquiries, then did you notice the way he was looking at me from top to bottom today? It seemed as if he was gazing inside my clothes lustfully. And you aunty (Suraj’s mom)…. You were saying that why am I not speaking and why is my mom speaking on my behalf every single time? Then, let me give the answer to your question. My mom was not letting me speak because she wanted to cover the facts that I do not know how to cook till date, I am a totally clumsy person who does not keep her things on there right places and then look for them everywhere, there are days when I wake up on time but still sleep very late because I have many dreams regarding my career and I do a lot of late night working for them and there are also days when I sleep late and do not wake up on time at all.

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Yes, you heard it right, ‘I have dreams about my career.’ You know why? Because I am currently pursuing my Bachelors and I am not just 12th pass.” Suraj’s mother was highly shocked hearing all this and replied, “What kind of an attitude and behaviour is this? This behaviour would not take you anywhere Srishti and huh, dreams? Girls are not allowed to have dreams other than marriage in our society.” Suraj’s father hopped into the conversation and said, “Mr. Sharma, we clearly told you before coming here that we need a homely, twelfth pass girl who knows all domestic skills and your daughter is saying that she is pursuing Bachelors. You lied to us for marriage, right? I will make sure that no other family enters your house for looking at this mannerless creature again.” Srishti gave a wholesome laugh and asked, “How qualified are you, Suraj? Why are you so awkwardly silent now Mumma’s boy? I have asked a simple question.” He looked down and replied, “I had passed my twelfth from a good private school. But that is not a concern for you.” Srishti rolled her eyes as if amazed and said, “Oh! That is and should be a concern for every girl as having an educated husband makes a lot more difference in life for educated wives. I am sorry to say uncle (Suraj’s father) but any educated man would love to have a qualified and working wife in today’s time. Times have changed and so should your thinking change with time. Husband and Wife are like two balancing wheels of the same cart that work together and not pull each other back. Whenever I get married, I will choose an educated man who liberates me and not shackles me more into chain like rules of the society. I am a part of this society but sorry to say this society is not a part of me. I am the wave of change and soon I will bring the revolution within your society.”

That day a lot changed within Srishti. She led a whole transformation in her thoughts and started spreading the same within the society but not before implementing it in her own house. Her parents changed for good and always held Srishti’s back in all situations. During the span of time, she completed her PhD and is very successful in the field of education and welfare for all. We need more Srishti’s for our society to grow and for that we need to implement the change in our thinking which must come from somewhere within us.

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