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.