Yukti, a girl full of aspirations and desires, was born in an orthodox joint family, in a high class society in Delhi. Money was no issue for the family. Their family business was widely spread and running successfully. They were living a luxurious life with all the possible modern amenities. The only thing that was not up-to-date was their thought process. They were highly conscious about how the women dress up in their family, how they communicate with others and how they manage and serve their family. No doubt, they spend lavishly on the women of their family, but failed when it comes to their happiness, the freedom to make their own choices and to lead their life in their own way. The women were bound by several rules and regulations, that in spite of the abundant wealth, they were not in peace. Men of the family think that it’s their privilege, it’s their right to take decisions for the entire family and it’s the duty of the women to just abide by that.
Yukti is now 17, going to complete her 10+2 education this year. A hunt for match search has already started in the family. As soon as she completes her 10+2, she will be married to a guy chosen appropriately according to the family standards. If she is lucky enough, she may get a chance to pursue her graduation. Ekta; Yukti’s elder sister, didn’t have that bit of luck also. She was married after completing her 10th Std, at an age of 15. Ekta had prepared herself to undergo this. But, Yukti has not. It’s difficult for her to accept everything, whatever is decided by others. After completing her matriculation, she wanted to go to a co-ed college, which was against the desires of the family. “Why do you want to study with the boys? First of all, we have imparted enough education required for a girl. Matriculation is enough. Your sister also did that and was married then. If you are insisting enough, we can arrange a girl’s college for you. Girls get distracted in a co-ed education. I don’t want you to go in a wrong direction and spoil the name of the family. After all, you are the prestige of the family”, her Tauji, the head of the family explained. Yukti got pacified for the time being, as at least she is getting a chance to continue her studies, though in a girl’s college.
When she was about to complete her 10+2, a match came from a well established reputed family in their society. But, Yukti was still not prepared for the marriage. She approached her Tauji and put forth her desires, ”Tauji, I want to pursue graduation and go for higher studies”.
Tauji exclaimed, "You have done enough education. That is more than enough. What will you do after pursuing higher education? After all, you have to take care of your family and look after them. That is your duty”.
Yukti couldn’t control her emotions and vented out her anger andfrustration,"Tauji, I want to achieve something in my life. I don’t want to just get married to a businessman and serve him and his family for the entire life. I don’t want to live the life of my mother or sister or any other woman in the family. I wanted to be myself. I want to make my own choices and take decisions for myself”.
Tauji got irritated by her behavior and said harshly to her, “This is the result of letting you study more. This is the impact of the outside world on you. That is why; we don’t allow girls to mingle more. Now go and change your mind set. We are going to fix your wedding soon”. But, Yukti was determined at heart, no matter what the people will say about her. One day, she is going to make it.
Soon, the dates were fixed. Only few days were left for the wedding. The entire mansion was decorated. All were busy in doing the arrangements, regardless of Yukt's feelings. The final day came. Ekta had come from her sasural, 2 weeks before the marriage. She had been observing her sister since the day she arrived. She found something missing in her charming sister. She went to Yukti, put her hands around her shoulders and asked, “What happened to you Yukti? You seem to be lost. Are you not happy?”
Yukti looked deeply into her sister’s eyes and whispered, "Di, are you? Are you happy with your life and the things around you?” Ekta kept mum. Yukti continued,” Di, I think everyone deserves to be happy, to follow their heart. You tell me Di if I’m wrong. What is freedom, Di? Freedom is to be free in every sense, whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally or financially. And everyone has the right to freedom, whether it is a man or woman. But when it comes to Indian women, they don't enjoy this luxury. They are held questionable for all of their actions, and every act of them is judged. Why is our society like this? Why it has separate rules for men and women? Why only men have the liberty to take decisions in all the matters? Why women is only confined to be a mere spectator? Why women just have to obey what men dictates? Can't she have a life of her own? Can't she pack up her bag and go wherever her heart takes her to? Why does she seek permission for her every act? Why di? Why?
Ekta embraced her sister and said," Yukti, you have grown up. It's you who can make a change. Get up and grab your rights. I never had that courage to face the society boldly. But, you can do it. Just get rid of the patriarchy and its norms right away.”
She got up, hugged her sister and went straight to face the entire crowd boldly, with a twinkle in her eye.