Her Journey Towards Freedom
Her Journey Towards Freedom8 mins 12K 8 mins 12K
Raghuveer lived in a small village in Bihar. He was the main member of the village Gram Panchayat. He had the highest level of education in their village. He always had the last word in all the meetings. All the villagers respected him and listened to him. But when it came to education only the boys were allowed to go out for higher studies in his village.
The highest level of education that their village girls had was till the 10th standard as they had a school in their village itself. The villagers feared that if they sent their daughters to the cities for an education they might run away or would be raped. Most of the villagers had not even seen a city. Also, they believed that if they let their daughters study too much, it might be difficult to find a good prospect for their daughter. Because the groom’s parents would demand too much of dowry.
He had a son and a daughter. He named his son Raja and his daughter Siya. Siya was two years younger to Raja He loved both of them a lot. Although Raghuveer loved Siya a lot he also followed the rules followed by other villagers. After all, he also had to live in the same village. Compared to the life of other girls Siya was much better off. She was allowed to go to school and watch all the movies, she could play games with Raja and his friends. But she was not allowed to wear western clothes like they wear in the movies or to leave the house after 6.00 pm etc. She also had to do the cooking and help her mother around the house. In the evenings she would sit and study. She not only studied from her own books but she would also sit and read Raja’s books. They would then discuss the lessons from Raja’s books.
Rajjo Bua (Raghuveer's sister) would often tell Raghuveer, “You have given a lot of freedom to your daughter. Better control her now or when she grows up she will stop respecting you or listening to you.”
Siya’s friends would often tell her she was very lucky that she had Raghuram for a father and Raja as her brother.
Raja got a smartphone as a gift for his 15th Birthday. It introduced him to the world of internet browsing. He soon learned how to google things. Siya and Raja would sit and google different things in the evenings after they finished theirs.
They did not have a hospital in their village. The nearest doctor was almost 5 km. away. Raja wanted to do science after his 10th. After that, he wanted to get a degree in Ayurveda and become an Ayurvedic Doctor, as most of the things are easily available locally. After his 10th boards, he had to go to the city for higher studies. He soon left after results were declared, and Siya became lonely. Raja was her biggest supporter. When he came back she told him how much she missed him. When she saw his smartphone she told him that she also wanted to have one. But she never had the guts to ask her father for one.
On his next birthday, Raja asked his father for the latest version of another phone. His father got it for him. He gave his old phone to Siya. Raja loved his little sister a lot. In the evenings Siya would be watching videos on her phone. When Rajjo bua saw this, she went grumbling to her father, “See your daughter is glued to her phone all the time. Whenever I see her, she is either talking on the phone or watching videos. You should take it away from her.” Raghuveer knew his daughter better and ignored Rajjo Bua.
Before leaving for his college Raja had taught her how to use WhatsApp and Facebook, so she could stay in touch with him. Soon she became friends with all of Raja’s friends. Whenever she saw his girlfriends' photos she would feel like she too wanted to be like them. She too wanted to dress up like them. Take pictures like other girls. She felt caged in this village. She felt like she lived in jail.
After completing his 12th from the city, Raja had to go to Kerala. Kerala had the best Ayurvedic colleges in the country. When Raja joined college he found it very difficult to follow the language. He met Vani there. She helped him to learn the language there. Her father was an Ayurvedic doctor. She wanted to become a doctor like her father. She had great knowledge of Ayurveda already. Raja was in awe of her. Raja introduced Vani to Siya. Siya and Vani soon became good friends. Siya would often learn from Vani about the various herbs, spices, and medicines. Vani had once told her that (Haldi) Turmeric helped in healing wounds.
One evening there was a loud thud in their bathroom, followed by an “aah!”. It was Raghuveer. He had slipped and fallen in the bathroom and became unconscious. Siya immediately gathered all the villagers and they managed to break open the bathroom door. Raghuveer was bleeding from the head. He was injured badly. Siya’s mother was hysterical. All the villagers called for the doctor. But he was not available. Raghuveer was bleeding badly. They called for an ambulance. But it would be a while before it arrived.
Siya took an immediate decision. She told Ramee chachi, “Bring a bowl of warm water with lots of cotton and clean cloth.” She told Jhumri chachi: “ Bring a paste of freshly grounded Haldi and water in a bowl.” Everyone around her started protesting and Rajjo Bua screamed, “ Somebody stop her… She will harm him...His condition might worsen.” Her mother told everyone to keep shut. Siya also turned a deaf ear to all her protests. She gently cleaned the wound and applied the haldi paste to his head. She also tied the cloth to his wound. By then the ambulance had arrived.
When they reached the hospital, after treating Raghuveer; the doctors asked as to who had applied the haldi paste and tied the cloth around Raghuveer’s head. Rajjo Bua angrily pointed out at Siya. She started saying, “ I tried to stop her, but this girl and her mother would not listen. Both of them are….” Before she could complete her sentence the doctor said, “ You did the correct thing. You are a very smart girl and very brave too. If it weren’t for the haldi paste the bleeding would not have stopped. He will remain unconscious for a while but he should be fine soon.” He further asked her, ”How did you know what to do? And how to do it?” Siya replied, “My brother is learning Ayurveda and he often sends me videos of how to treat patients and how to clean wounds, and Haldi is used to stop bleeding.” Rajjo Bua felt ashamed.
Raja also came back immediately. It took a few days for Raghuveer’s wounds to heal completely. When he was discharged from the hospital and came home, he called Siya and asked her lovingly,” You can ask anything from me today. You saved my life. Tell me what you want?” Siya did not know what to say and ran away. But Raja understood her silence very well. When Raja was alone with his father he told him, “ Father, why don’t you let Siya complete her higher studies? Please send her with me to learn Ayurveda." Raghuveer did not reply. He called Siya and asked her sternly, “ Siya, Raja tells me you want to study further. Is that true?” Siya replied, “ Yes father, I also want to become a doctor like Raja bhaiya.” He said, “ Okay, I shall think about it.”
The next day a meeting of the Panchayat was called. Raghuveer proposed the idea of letting all the village girls get higher education. He said, “ I know that many of our daughters and sisters wish to study and also go for higher studies. But it is for our ignorance and narrow mindedness that our village is still in darkness. If it were not for my daughter’s bravery and her awareness I wouldn’t be alive. I propose that we must build a college in our village and let our daughters study further. If we use the money that we save for giving dowry in our daughter’s marriage for education we would not be living such a lowly life. Do you all even know that giving and asking for dowry is illegal? And that we all could be jailed for it?” All the villagers were shocked to hear this. They replied in unison, “No, No”. Raghuveer declared, “ I have decided that I am sending Siya to the city for further studies. I also think we should build a college in our village for our children.” There were a few protests from the older and the uneducated villagers, but Raghuveer knew that it was not easy to bring a change. There were a few who agreed with Raghuveer.
When the village girls heard about it they were so happy. Siya finally got the freedom to follow her dreams. She soon got admission in the same college as Raja and when she returned after getting a degree in Ayurveda, she was the first lady doctor in her village. She began practicing with Raja and was called ‘Doctor Didi’. Also, a lot of women in their village who were shy and were not comfortable with going to a male doctor for treatment, would now come and discuss their problems with Doctor Didi.