Vimla was holding her graduation degree in her hand. Her eyes were moist and her throat was choked. She was standing on the podium for last five minutes. The cheering & clapping didn’t seem to die out soon. At last the announcer asked everyone to hold and let Vimla speak a few words
Vimla hesitantly moved up to the mike.
” Dear friends, well Technically you all are of the same age as my granddaughter & son. But as you are my batch mates I can call you Friends, Can I ?? “. The crowd answered with a loud cheer.
” Thank you. I never thought I would ever enter a school let alone holding a degree. It is like living a far-fetched dream. Most of you know my story.But for those who are not aware I would like to tell my small & insignificant story to you all. I am from a very remote village situated in Haryana & Rajasthan border. Girls from that region are not allowed to live life on their own terms. Girls are either killed after birth or raised like cattle. They face discrimination at every step. It’s not easy for us to come out of this social trap & start life afresh. But I dared.
I was married when I was hardly 11 years old. Before I understood the meaning of husband & marriage, I was pregnant with my first child. Year after year I delivered 8 kids & had few miscarriages. I worked in the field like farm animals. Raised my kids & looked after my house. On one fateful night, my husband went out to have a drink with his friends & never came back. After heavy drinking, a fight broke in the group & in the fit of a rage, one of his friend slashed his throat.
Just a few days after my husband’s body was cremated, I was thrown out of the house with 5 of my daughters. My in-laws decided to keep all my sons with them. I cried, begged them to return my kids but they didn’t budge.
I was left on the street with my daughters without food, water or roof above our head. I had nowhere to go. I went back to my parents, but they denied me any help & asked me to make peace with my in-laws. I had to leave from there also. I wandered from place to place, struggling for one square meal. I was an illiterate lady. It was not easy for me to find a job. My body was tired, my soul was shattered, but my will power kept me going. I worked hard, very hard & brought up my daughters in the best possible way. They are all Graduate & working in different fields. I am so proud f them.
After all these years just when I thought my job in this world is over, I asked myself ” Vimla, have you achieved everything you ever wanted. No . I always wanted to study . I wanted to read a paper , sign the documents & speak in front of people without hesitation .Now that my responsibilities were over, I wanted to pursue my studies.
For a moment, I thought people would make fun of them . Is this an age to go to school . I am a grandmother now . But my friends when I delivered my first child that was not an age to marry or to become a mother . All fears & doubts flew out of the window . Here I am , A graduate at an age of 60 .
“Women’s education is a very important . It is a tool to shape up your present & future . I think no one should be deprived of the right to education.At last , I would just like to say please spread the knowledge . It is worth your whole life . “
This time she raised the bar high. It will be difficult for anyone to match her steps.