“The day I told my mother that I will have to go to Delhi, my mother simply refused to listen to me. She said that even if didi (SELF Academy facilitator) comes and tries to talk to her it will not be relevant. So I went to my aunt’s (Bua) place. Around that time, didi organized some meetings in my village and she spoke to my mother and convinced her to send me to Delhi. My father also eventually agreed.
But my aunt and my brother were also pretty resistant. They were against the idea of me leaving for Delhi. Even when my parents were convinced, the women in my neighborhood taunted my parents. They told my parents that it is wrong that they have sent their daughter off alone and that they will realize their mistake eventually when the girls will take a step that goes against the wishes of the family. But my mother didn’t listen to them and eventually I could go to Delhi.
Given that my family members weren’t there, I knew that I could live my life without any restrictions. I had never done that before. I told myself that this is the moment to have fun. And I had fun by learning as much as I could. For example, I learnt English. Before, I didn’t know how to play football but now I can play football as well. Before, I didn’t know how to operate a computer, but now I can. I can work on the internet, Google and can work on a report. I even have a Facebook account now. I got know how a new article is printed. In addition to this I also learnt how to operate a camera. I learned about social issues too, like domestic violence. I really liked that session as I realized that I must live my life without any restrictions.
I started going for the meetings secretly. My mother knew about it and she let us attend the meetings. When my father got to know about it he scolded us but then we still continued to attend the meetings by taking permission from my mother. Now neither of my parents stop me from going anywhere.
Earlier I thought that I won’t be able to continue with my studies. My family is quite poor and they couldn’t have afforded my education. I always dreamt of becoming a doctor. But after becoming a part of this (program) I am convinced that I can pursue my dream and become a doctor. Now others also encourage me to pursue my dream and it feels really nice. When I came back from Delhi, my father told me that if in the future I get any such opportunity, I must avail it. And nobody will stop me. Two days prior to when I left for Delhi, my brother scolded me but my father intervened and stopped him from doing that. So now even my brother doesn’t say much.
Patriarchy endorses the idea that girls are weak in comparison to boys and they can’t do anything. But my family members now do not endorse this idea. They believe that their daughter is not weak and is equal to boys. They even encourage me to strive for equality now. They have stopped saying that girls can’t do much. Girls these days become police officers and can fly a helicopter.
Personally, I experienced many changes. Earlier I wasn’t allowed to step out of the house but now I am allowed to. Earlier I used to feel slightly scared and didn’t feel confident about stepping out of my house. But now I feel confident enough to go anywhere. I used to feel weird about going to new places. But this changed when I left for Delhi. Now I like going to new places. I like going for meetings now and don’t feel scared of anyone. I can also travel alone now. Earlier my father used to stop me from travelling alone but now he doesn’t. Now women in my neighborhood have also stopped complaining. Earlier they used to try to instill fear in me but now they have stopped. Now I don’t even take permission from my parents and just step out.
Yes, now I am not afraid.”