Let Her Fly
Let Her Fly
God is the author of the story of our lives. He knows when to add climax and colours to everyone’s life. She had waited a lot for colours in her life. Now she had all yet, one colour was missing in her life.
Though summer had started, It wasn’t hot yet. I called her, in the morning when I was done with the jogging. Come home, they miss you, a lot. Don’t do this to them. I knew what would be her answer but yet, I had to try. It wasn’t easy for her either, to forget the past, to forgive and go home. It was she who picked up the call but her past replied. After I hung up, I took a walk along Kakaria Lake. I sat on stone made railing and thought of how to convince her. For you, always, she had said once but now those words meant nothing. I looked up; thought of how different she was before she left home. She changed and changed everything around.
I stood up and looked around. Peopled seemed as busy as they may have thought for me but everyone has a story, everyone was struggling and alone. At least I thought so. Amid so many people, I felt alone. I missed her.
Can you help me with my tent, her polite smile could convince even Hitler. I was just about to open the zip of my bag to pull out my tent. I kept my bag aside and stood up, thought for a moment and looked at her. She leaned more on left leg. Her arms were gently folded. her hair was tied in a ponytail. Grey track pant and light pink t-shirt seemed little dark in the absence of proper sunlight. I helped her and we exchanged a few words. Though my job was in Ahmedabad, I was sent to Bangalore for work for five months. She has been working with Qualcomm, Bangalore since last two years. Kudremukh, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? She looked around, filled her heart with nature, closed eyes for a moment and said. Kudremukh, located 300 kilometres away from Bangalore. That’s where we met for the first time.
We were nine people, strangers but trekking together. We talked a lot after dinner and played a few games. Whole the time, I was focused on her. She was different. She made everyone laugh with her jokes and whatnot. Her cool attitude told me she was a free girl, who didn’t care what others think of her; who didn’t give damn about people. And that’s what made me curious. I wanted to know more about her. I didn't know why but, it felt like she was hiding so much pain behind this “cool” mask on her face. Out of nine, only we two were Gujaratis and so we got along really well. Next day while trekking, we exchanged name, numbers and much more. Now I knew what she was holding back in her heart, that pain. Girl I met on the trip, Aneri, her name.
We met a few more times after that, exploring different places in Bangalore. After five months, I came back to Ahmedabad. I asked her to come back but she would cut me before I could ask her. She had decided to never come back.
One coffee please, I ordered. After work when I wasn’t feeling okay, I went to the nearest Tea Post. That was the first time, I wanted her so badly beside me. I remembered how we had met the first time after a trip to one café in Bangalore. She had opened up the heart to me.
After leaving her village, her home, to never go back, she came to Ahmedabad. That was the first time she was in a big city. She didn’t know where to go, from where to start. She spent the first night at the bus stand. Next day morning, she talked with few people over there and came to know about Samaj Seva Trust. The organization helped her in college enrolment. Soon she was enrolled in best Engineering college in Ahmedabad. The enrolling process was still offline back then. It was a government college and she was staying in a government hostel with minimal expenses. She has to earn to pay that little hostel fees and for her other expenses like books, etc.
Initial few months, she struggled hard to find part-time jobs. She would do anything but there was hardly anything for her to do in very little time she had after college. She found work of maid in a nearby house. She would run there in break time in the afternoon. She had no time for lunch. She would run back completing work as soon as possible. She had to attend those lectures. She couldn’t afford to miss it like others. She would take dinner at the hostel mess and go again to complete her night job. She wasn’t eating properly and working overtime. Soon health problems started, stress, tiredness, depression and above all, migraine. She would go to the government hospital once in a while but never took proper treatment. She neither had money nor time for such things.
It was not like she hadn’t work hard before. In fact, she had worked even more in her farm, back in the village. She would go to a farm early in the morning, go to school directly from there. In return from school, she wasn’t allowed to go home. After seven kilometres of bicycle ride from school to her village, she would stop her bicycle at her farm. She would work till evening and leave for home when the sun was done for the day. That was her schedule for weekdays. You cannot expect anything better for the weekend either. It was same during board exams as well. After the exam, she would stop the bicycle on the farm. She would take an agriculture sprayer pump of sixteen litres on her shoulder and start spraying slowly on crops. She would find time to study at night only and yet, she would top in the school.
She thought of working at two houses. She tried for a week but it was next to impossible for her to keep up with everything. The job wasn’t paying much and there came a time when she had no money to pay hostel fees. She was almost kicked out of the hostel but her friends helped her. She denied to take offered money, her pride wouldn’t allow that. She would go to the washroom, pull her knees to face, hide face between knees and cry, like a baby. There was no one to console her. She missed her mother. There was no option left, she accepted help from friends.
One semester passed and results were out. Looking at her score, one professor accepted her proposal for his assistant in the Research Department. She also got a job as a teacher in nearby primary school. She had to go early in the morning for two hours. It made her miss one lecture every day but she had to do it. These two part-time jobs affected her study. She ended up scoring average.
In the rush of life, three and half years passed and it was placement time. She expected to clear interview easily. Little did she know that interview is not about technical skills but how good you are in English. Studying in Gujarati medium till high school, that too in a small village, she wasn’t good with English. She failed in the English test in all placement exams. She couldn’t secure a job. She was on her own, again on the road, from where she had started when she first came to Ahmedabad.
She didn’t talk with her parents. They didn’t know where she was, what she was doing, if she was alive or not.
I was back to Ahmedabad from Bangalore and four months had passed. I went to her home, in the village, to meet her parents. Of course, I didn’t tell her. I handed over sweets box to her mother and I told them whereabouts of her daughter, Aneri. I told how good she was earning, more than fifty thousand per month in Bangalore. How happy she is in her life, how badly she missed them. Though it was a lie added by me, it made her mom happy. Her dad wasn’t much interested. For him, he had only one child, his son.
I bent down to touch their feet. They blessed me. I was all set to leave, I looked back, I could see the pain in her mother’s eyes and no emotions in her father. That reminded me of how she had left home. She had told me it all when we had reached the peak point of Kudremukh and resting for a while.
I don’t want to live here, she threw the plate. She was frustrated now. She had enough. She couldn’t tolerate it anymore. That was the day, she left her home, finally. Her parents were shocked. Her mom couldn’t swallow the bite she had just taken. Her dad tried to speak but parted lips couldn’t make a sound. It was on the morning of one fine summer day while taking breakfast. She had just completed her 12th and results were out. She had passed with flying colours but her father didn’t want her to fly. Her mother had no say in those matters. That’s how it was back then. Women were just housewives, like some maid. No participation in family matters, no say in any decisions. Still, it is like that in so many villages, in so many communities. Her family was no different. She wanted to study. She wanted to have a career. She wanted to be independent. She didn’t want to end up like her mother, suppressed under the male ego. She had dreams. She wanted to fly. She had wings but her wings were tied in that house.
She looked back once more at the house she called home for seventeen years. It was a small bricked house without plaster. They had clay house before. Five years ago, it was indeed a good year for any farmer. The rain was just the amount of any farmer would need. They had made some money from a crop, from their as little as three Bigha Land. That’s when they replaced clay walls with bricks. The floor was still of clay but at least now there was no fear of walls falling apart in heavy rain. It was the moment of joy for everyone in the family, her parents, her brother and she. She didn’t want to remember her brother but he was a family, how could she exclude?
She thought for a moment. Her parents were standing at the gate of the house. Her mother was crying but her father, he had no remorse. Her brother was two years younger to her and has just completed the 10th. He was an average student but his father wanted him to study as far as he wanted. That wasn’t the case for her even though she was far talented than him. It has always been like that. After all, she was an unwanted child. Her father didn’t want a girl. Since childhood, she would be always loaded with work but not her brother. She had never experienced the love of a father. She was suffering since birth for being a girl but not anymore. She remembered how hard she had fought to study until high school. Her father wouldn’t give a penny more for college. He wanted to get her married and get over with responsibilities.
She had packed her clothes and all the documents she would need for further study. She had saved some money for a moment like that. She wiped tears with her forearm in one blow. She began to walk forward to leave her home behind which was in a small village in Amreli district. Approximately fifty kilometres away from Amreli. The village has around fifty to sixty houses. All same, same houses, same people, and the same mentality. She had to break free from it. She glanced on the wristwatch. Her steps were longer and faster now. It was three in the noon but she had to walk seven kilometres to catch the bus to Ahmedabad. She had no plans ahead but she knew what she wanted. She wanted to go to college, study and get a decent job. It doesn’t sound a big dream but for her, it was as big as any dream could be.
She overstayed in the hostel for a month once college was over and she had no job. She continued her part-time morning job of teaching but that wasn’t enough. She started looking out for a job. She sent a resume to many companies, gave interviews but all in vain. She wanted to go to Bangalore and apply but for that too, she needed money. She finally settled with a job at the call centre. It was night shift job but she had to take it. there were only two female employees and fourteen males, most of them young, three in their thirties and one boss who was in his fifties. She was scared. And even more scared when she came to know that the call centre was illegal. There could be police raid any time. She almost resigned job after a week but what next if not that job? She decided to earn money and go to Bangalore in search of Job.
More clients she would handle, more salary she would get. She worked hard. She shifted from hostel to other girls PG. Life seemed to have kindness on her after all. It seemed smooth journey forward. She took a sigh of relief.
One night, she was attending a call when her boss came hurriedly. We are closing this centre, he announced. No one was more terrified than her. It seems the police have information about this centre and they have a location, as far as I know, her boss explained. We will find another location and clear this by this morning, he further instructed all the employees. He further instructed senior employees and everyone started cleaning, disconnection cables, CPUs, monitors and everything.
For the next fifteen days, there was no news from the company. It has been just three months she had started a job and now she was jobless. It was month-end. She had to pay rent this time. Last month also she hadn’t paid a single penny. She had medical issues, migraine. It was so unbearable that she had to get a proper check-up. It cost her more than she had anticipated. She contacted her boss for salary but he wouldn’t answer. She couldn’t pay rent for consecutive two months.
At six o’clock in the evening, when she was back from the hospital, she found her luggage packed near the door outside her room. She knew it was time to leave from there but she had nowhere else to go. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry but she didn’t shed a tear there. She picked her bag and tucked on the back like a warrior fastened the shield. She took a walk to the nearest public garden. She looked around and found one bench in the corner. It was already dark and no one could see her. She screamed. And she cried…
Why try to be tough when your heart is screaming with pain? She was going through her periods. It was her third day. She neither had the money nor the roof over her head. She badly needed to change her pads but she had no place to do so. For a moment, she thought it was the wrong decision to leave home. Regret shows how vulnerable we are. One should try to make the choice right rather than making the right choice. For a moment, she thought of going back to the village. She missed her mother. She wanted to talk with her. She wanted to hug her. She badly needed someone to lean on. There was no one. It was completely dark and she was all alone in the corner. She cried her heart out that night. she would stay still for a moment like stone and again one or other pain would kick in. Migraine, menstrual cramps, no home and no job. She cried and cried and she didn’t know when she slept on the bench in the garden.
Next morning her phone rang, she woke up and checked the name. It was Nayeem, her senior from the company. She couldn’t hold it back. She told him everything. He came there without delay and booked a room in a hotel for her for a day. He also arranged other PG for her and paid in advance. When she was freshened up, he visited her at a hotel. He informed that the call centre will start the next day at a new address. She didn’t say much. She found much-needed comfort in his arms. He too felt for her. Within a few days, both were together.
Those were the happiest days of her life. She had a shoulder to lean on. They went on many trips together and soon, they were sharing the bed. For few months relationship went pretty well but like every other relationship, they also had problems. Things were falling apart. She worked hard for the rest of the year. She saved as much as she could. When she had enough, she started applying for a job in Bangalore but no one would hire who graduated a year back and had no experience of a technical job. Nayeem didn’t want her to go to Bangalore. He was being selfish. She had left home, her parents for her dream job. She couldn’t stay back now when she had a chance. There are people we can’t live without, but we have to let them go.
She applied for a three months training course in Bangalore. She studied hard this time. She had much needed English exposure at a call centre job. She gave interviews in four companies and got selected in Qualcomm after three rounds of interviews. She was still in touch with Nayeem but not in a relationship. She didn’t want anyone in her life. She didn’t want anyone to tell her what she should do and what she should not. She just wanted to fly… like a free bird.
She came to Ahmedabad after a year, to meet me. I again requested her to meet her parents. She didn’t say anything. I know one day I will convince her. After all, I love her. She loves me. You may have a question, how did that happen? Well, that’s a story for another day.
A girl leaves her home in a small village to never go back. She has dreams to fly high but will she be able to cope up in a big city on her own? Can she fight the strong waves of life?
Let her fly is not just a story, it is lived. It is based on a true story and I have given fiction wings to the story so that it can fly and touch people’s hearts.