This is second part of the what all I have encountered being brought up in a village rampant with gender bias and violence. There was a girl in our neighborhood who would be around 21-22 years old now. About 4 years ago we hear some hush hush rumors going on in the village. Lekha(name changed) was in 7th or 8th standard at the time. “Do you know what happened today? Lekha went to see a movie with a boy in her school ON HIS VEHICLE”. “These days village is loosing its integrity completely”. “Girls have no sense of shame these days, guys will of course do such things but she should have known better”. “See her parents were quick to find fault with others, now they’ll get to know!”. “They must get her married as soon as possible if they have even a smidgen of self respect left”.

This might sound made of or far fetched and to be honest I can’t claim that I can recollect everything word to word but more of less this was public sentiment when one girl bunked her school to go to some movie with some guy. I am not justifying her act but only wanting to share the disproportionate reaction of her parents and society in general to this one event. Within few hours she became the hot topic of gossip for everyone and her mother ,it seemed, fell drastically sick and was hospitalized. Even about her mother some people speculated “kuch nahi hua hain sab drama hain(nothing is wrong with her she is just doing drama)”.

I watch all this from a distance having no say in the matter and not even wanting to get into this mess. She wasn’t related to me but still it hurt a little to see what all a little girl had to endure for one step. Within a month I find myself having lunch at a ceremony where Lekha is standing on stage in a wedding gown. Her parents were quick to get her out of school and marry her off. What is her condition today , I’m not really aware but I wonder If she would have ever anticipated that one movie would cost her so much.

I wish this was the only such incident  I had seen and that I was not affected by this male chauvinism ever but that is far from true. For most of the supposed mistakes that children made, the families around me had only one solution “marry them off , it’ll be fine then”. For all marital problems the solution was even simpler “bear a child, then it’ll be better”. I wonder for how long we will keep dragging the same old harmful cultural perceptions and when if at all things will change in my village.

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Sonia Kataria

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