There is only one choice, the one you make

I did very well at primary school. I was the topper all through 5 years. Primary school finished. It was time to start looking for admission in secondary school. There were 2 schools close enough in the area. I got admission into secondary school. This time I didn’t need an adult to help me get admission. The name of the school was “Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya”. It was an all girls school, with morning shift for girls. The same building served for boy’s school in afternoon shift.

I was in section A of 6th standard. There were 3 girls in that class who were really good with studies. 2 of the girls came to attend school from an area called Buddh Vihar. It must be a walk of at least 45 minutes for them to reach to school every day. They did come from educated families. 1 girl(“Lets call her Komal), she also lived in Sultan Puri. She was very intelligent, she always scored more than me in every test, she scored highest, I scored second highest. I was happy that she was there, I have someone to compete with. I really liked her. I loved her hand writing. She wrote like it was printed on paper. She liked my hand writing, I don’t know why though, it was good, but not as good as hers.

My mom didn’t like me spending all the time in studies. She wanted me to do house work, just like all other girls there. She wanted me to do exactly what she wanted and not question her. She used to beat me a lot. She would beat with anything that will come in her hand. Flip flop, stick, tongs, broom, utensils. The beatings became worse and more frequent after I got into secondary school. I spent even more time studying. It made her mad. Again being a good student, I used to get books, stationary, uniform from school. I got clothes from neighbors, teachers. There were times when she burnt my clothes and books in anger to punish me. I kept my books, stationary in a bag. Whenever my mom would get angry, first thing I will do is, pick up the bag of books and run away, though I wasn’t able to save them all the time. There were times, when I was left with only clothes that I was wearing and the rest were burnt. I was lucky, teachers helped with books, and neighbors helped with clothes. In secondary school, I made friends who would let me spend time at their home to study, those who had better places to live. My mom many times would come to school, walk into the class room and would start beating in front of everyone in the class. Her beating me in the school helped me. Teachers liked me even more because after those beatings and situation at home, I was still doing very well at school. I never missed a single day at school.

I made a friend in secondary school, her name was (I will call her Usha). I would first go to her home in morning, her mom will give me breakfast along with her and her siblings. Then my friend and I would walk together to school. All the girls in my class loved me.

The school had music teacher, Jyoti maam. One day she was going to each class to recruit girls for group singing for Independence day. She selected me from the class. That was first day I got to know that I could sing.

6th standard finished. Komal topped all the 6th sections, I was the second topper among all sections. I didn’t stand a chance against Komal. First term exams finished for 7th Standard. Komal again scored highest.

One day suddenly Komal stopped coming to school. A month passed by and she still didn’t show up. I started asking the girls who came from her neighborhood. One girl told me “Komal got married”. I was shocked “We were 12 year old kids. I decided to visit Komal’s home. I started asking around about Komal. I got to know “When she got married, she wasn’t conscious”. She was forcefully married. I cried a lot. That whole year was tough for me. Komal had a great future, she was intelligent, she was a good friend. I didn’t do very well in studies this year. I stood third, not because, I couldn’t, I thought about Komal all the time. I cried for months as I entered the class. 2 girls who came from Buddh Vihar, they stood first and second. It didn’t matter who stood first, second or third any more.

I kept thinking why didn’t Komal fight back. I thought, why didn’t she tell me about it. I would have gone to police. I knew that much as 12 years old. I would have done something. I would have told the teachers in school. They would have done something. Later after 2 years, I heard Komal died. She had baby by then. I don’t know how she died. It could been for any reason, she had a baby girl, and she might have been expecting another girl?, her in law’s wanted more dowry and Komal’s family could not afford to give more, these are commom reasons I have seen girls killed by their in laws. Or it could be any reason.

Komal’s death made me even stronger. I told myself, no one can force me to live a life or die a death that I dont want to. I will decide what I do with my life. How I want to live it. I told myself, I am going to study even harder and create my path to success and future I deserve.

I will talk about how my mother tried to force me into marriage when I was 14 and how I stopped that from happening.

I learnt in 7th standard — You make your destiny, fight for yourself, fight for what you deserve. No one can or should be able to force you to do anything, you don’t want to.