I look at her, lanky but with such lovely facial features. High cheekbones, thick endless lashes draping doe-like soulful eyes. She is only 14 but already wearing out from the cares of the world. Now that she’s older, her family’s poverty is more pronounced. On her tattered clothing, on her dejected bearing. As a child, she was more carefree, oblivious to the state of her life. She used to burst with energy and aspirations, but as she grew into awareness, the limits of her ambitions are slowly dawning on her. I often used to wonder what will become of her. What will happen to her in the future. It devastates me to think of the inevitability of what the rest of her life would be like.
I kept asking her what are her plans for college every time I meet her. I can always feel the hesitation. The sigh around the room.”She wants to be a doctor.” Her sister would say, her voice laced with regret.
Her sister once tried defying tradition but now has acquiescence to the endless nagging of the convention. She will get married. She will give a dowry. Her sister had gone to college. She’s got a job. She is doing her masters. But those will hardly make any difference.
“Life ends once you get married.” I’ve heard this phrase too often from girls of marriageable age in this country.
This is unimaginable for me. For a girl, 20 years is such a short time to live.