Vanya, a plain village woman, was holding Shakti and Mukti in her lap, ecstatic with the bundles of joy that God has blessed her with. But the case was not the same with others. Her in-laws and her husband, Madhav wanted a baby boy, who could become the waaris (the heir) of the so-called royal family of Samandsar; a small village in Rajasthan, who can carry forward the name of the family. They cursed and blamed her for not providing the waaris who would have hosted the flag of the royal family and rule the royal ruins for generations. In fact, there was nothing royal left for it except the name. They used all kinds of abusive language and ill-treated her kids without any apparent impunity. They tortured her physically and mentally.
After years of harassment and oppression, Vanya was not able to take it anymore. One day, she thought of bringing this matter to her family so they could help her get rid of this entire nuisance from her life. It was Friday, 13th April 2012. She went to her parent’s place with her 4-year old twins and put forth the entire story in front of them.
They said, “No need to worry at all. We are always there beside you. No need to undergo any physical or mental torture, beta. No need to stay with such a man who doesn’t have any respect for his wife and ill-treats her. Come back to us. We will file a divorce for you. No need to worry about the future and the kids. Everything will be alright.”
Listening after all this, tears rolled down Vanya’s eyes. She felt blessed to have such supportive parents. But suddenly, a jerk from the rickshawala jolted her thoughts and she realized that she had just reached her parents’ home with those thoughts in her mind.
She took down her luggage, paid the money to the rickshawala and rushed towards the gate holding Shakti in one and Mukti in another arm. Her parents were waiting impatiently for her as they had sensed something wrong with her voice.
They asked Vanya to freshen up and while they played with the kids. After some time, they all gathered for the dinner. Vanya fed both her daughters and made them go to sleep. By the time she had come back, her father had already left for bed asking her mother to tackle the matter whatever it was.
Vanya narrated the entire story to her mother and started sobbing. Her mother came near her, held her in her arms and said, “Beta, all men are alike. It’s we women, who have to understand. Just think about the society. What will the relatives say? Everyone will point fingers on us only. Villagers have already started gossiping about the matter.”
“But Maa”, Vanya interrupted in the middle and said, “Doesn’t it matter to you that your daughter is physically and mentally tortured every day? What’s my future Maa? What’s the future of my daughters? Can they tolerate all this?”
Maa replied back, “Try to understand, Beta. It’s our fate. We have to adjust. Once a girl is married, she has to adjust and find a place in her sasural. We are helpless.” Vanya stood up from the charpai with tears rolling down her cheeks, but this time the reason was different.
Her face was boiling with anger and her body shivering, she managed to say, “Maa, enough is enough. Enough of the gender-biased society and its norms. Enough of the so-called relatives and their meaningless relations. Enough of what others will think. Enough of whatever I’ve undergone. Maa, I don’t need your patriarchal suggestions. I don’t need your permission to get separated from him. In fact, I don’t need anyone’s permission. I’ve suffered a lot by thinking about the static society and its man-made rules. But it’s high time to stop this Maa. If today, I’ll not stand for myself, I’ll be in your situation tomorrow. And, I don’t want the same to happen with Shakti and Mukti.”
Her mother stood there frozen. Vanya picked up her kids and left her parents’ place. She sat on the rickshaw squatting on the street, staring into space and gazing at the endless starlit sky. Though it was dark outside, the twinkling stars and the calm and clear moonlight still gave her the hope, strength and confidence that the decision she had taken today was correct and she could handle her own life.
After a few days, it was heard that Vanya filed for a divorce with Madhav and left the village to a small town nearby, where she managed to find a job in a garments factory. She provided her daughters with a high-class education.
Mukti, free from all man-made boundaries, become a great leader for the cause of women equality and rights, and conducts many women empowerment programs. Shakti, the symbol of power, has become a karate champ, provides self-defense classes to the rural girls, makes them aware of the gender-based violence and passes on the message that women are no more the weaker sex.