Sunday Photo Fiction – May 21st 2017



200 05 May 21st 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

Today is the last day of the School Matriculation exams and Rashmi is in tears.

As the school gates firmly shut behind her, life for her has reached a dead end: her dear school, her alma mater where she spent ten years of her life is not authorized to conduct higher classes, classes that lead to her becoming a graduate, and maybe beyond.

Swept over by nostalgia, she cranes her neck over high brick walls to view for one last time the single storied structure and its classrooms; the playground, the assembly hall and the wide corridors.

With a heavy heart she turns back home to the horror that awaits her: marriage.

‘I have fixed the match. The boy is from the neighboring village. Works in a factory’, she had heard her father talk to mother a week ago.

Her mother had not uttered a word. How could she? Theirs was a deeply patriarchal society. Here  a man’s diktat was inviolate and women no worse than chattels to be lifted and dumped from one place to the other, from one household to another___like a piece of sack.

“But maa, I am only fifteen. I want to study further, earn, become independent. There’s another school…”

Her mother had cut her short.

‘No way.’

She had heard horror stories of the other school located three kilometers away. There had been incidents___of harassment, molestation, one of rape as well. No way would she be allowed to study there, to walk the deserted roads.

‘Your father’s right. We’ll get you married. That way the family honour is safe.’

That night as Rashmi went to sleep, she concluded that society, her school, her parents__ all were traitors; traitors who conspire against the girl child, traitors who don’t bat an eyelid as they remorselessly go around killing the budding aspirations of young girls who are smart and want to study but are denied the means to do so unlike boys for whom all privileges are rolled out in a red carpet.

That night as she slept on the corner mud floor, Rashmi fought through her tears, thinking hard and fast, trying to think of a way, some way, any way out of the quagmire that she found herself in.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #historical fiction #01 #spf #373words


Historical Background:

Haryana: Rewari girls demanding school upgradation go on strike

We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII, says a girl on hunger strike.

Around 80 girls of a government high school here have gone on an indefinite strike demanding upgradation of their institution, fearing they will be harassed if they travel to a senior secondary school located in a different village for higher studies.

The stir by the girls, studying in class IX and X in Gothda Tappa Dahina village, entered its sixth day on Monday. Of the 86 protesting students, 13 are on hunger strike, village head Suresh Chauhan told PTI. “For higher education, girls of our village have to go to Kanwali village, located 3 km from here, after Class X,” he added.

One of the girls on hunger strike said: “We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII.” The protesters said they would not stop until the government accepted their demand. Meanwhile, the district education authorities said since the school did not fulfil the minimum condition required for the senior secondary level, it could not be upgraded.

“At least 150 students are required in Classes IX and X for the senior secondary upgrade but the Dahina village school has just 86 students in both classes,” said Dharmbir Balrodia, District Education Officer (DEO), Rewari.



19 thoughts on “neelwrites/spf/traitorinthehouse#01/22/05/2017

  1. A very important issue, and the connection between women’s education level, age at marriage, and number of children is well-established. I’d read a lot about the social norms against girls getting more education, but I’d never heard of this particular issue: that they can’t continue their schooling because the local school doesn’t go high enough in grade level. Are the schools sex-segregated such that there are local advanced schools for boys but not for girls, or is the issue that the boys go to the higher-level school farther away and do not fear harassment for it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is both and all of these things. In large pockets of rural India, there are schools above primary level but not for girls. Girls’ education takes backseat as they are considered a burden and hence another man’s problem to be dealt with by way of early marriage. A sad but true reality of modern day India.
      Thanks Joy for reading my story and appreciating the sensitivity of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see how the structural problems and the cultural norms feed off each other. The lack of girls’ advanced schools makes it easy for individual people to say, oh, we’re not so against it, but sorry, there’s no school for you, what can we do? But the cultural norms are *why* there are no advanced schools for girls, and why there are separate schools for girls and boys, and why girls fear being harassed on the roads (and why the solution to men threatening girls is to restrict the girls’ behavior rather than to punish the men). Yes, sad but true. I only hope that things are changing in the right direction, and soon. .

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that is the fervent hope that all of us have. And a new India is emerging, albeit slowly, one that respects women and sees them as equal partners in in societal and nation building. More power to such progressive thoughts and principles.

        Liked by 1 person

    • This is still pretty much common in rural India where girls have to fight every single day for their right to quality education. I wanted to highlight this gross injustice. I am glad you appreciated my effort. Thanks Lian.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How can a civilization go forward unless all are educated? A country cannot be content to put up with a large percentage of the population poorly educated. When the mothers are educated the children will stand a better chance of getting an education. Good writing, Neel. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel for this girl and the real girls on this hunger strike. It is not fair to not be allowed to continue ones education just because you are female. 15 is very young that’s like a grade nine education or maybe grade 10. It’s something but it’s. Not good enough for those girls who want to further their education and possibly do post secondary school. I have always had that opportunity in life so I’m so sad other girls do not. Education is the future, it’s knowledge, it’s power, and it’s a way to better yourself. Even just a liberal arts degree teaches a person how to think, logically and to argue a point, to get along with others better, and have a better career.

    The worst thing you talk about is the sexual abuse these women face if they attend high school. It shouldn’t be. These men are afraid of smart women. I’m hoping perhaps, her husband is nice and allows her to continue in her studies, but being factory worker, maybe this wouldn’t be important to him ? I don’t know.

    Great story, a wonderful issue to highlight, to make people aware of. And your writing as always is excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, as you very rightly said, women have historically, always been treated as the second sex, second to men and their narrow parochialism, a problem that is especially acute in developing country like India where large swathes of its population still believe in the subjugation of women and thereby the denial of their basic rights including right to timely, quality education. And if some bold forward thinking young girls decide to take it upon themselves to fight for their just rights, they are branded as bad, evil, tortured, maimed, sexually harassed and abused, all in a bid to force them accept the rules laid out by a deeply masochistic society that does not believe in the progress of women and see them as threats to their misplaced male egos.

    I am glad you appreciated what i had to say through my story.
    And thanks Mandi for your fulsome praise. Have a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is sad that a country will treat its children in that way. They are no better off than slaves. TO be treated just like a sack of meat is horrendous. The horror stories of what fathers do to their daughters who refuse to cooperate is equally as horrific.


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