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Breaking Through

Being the youngest of my family, I was never allowed to go anywhere alone. Be it school or tuitions, I wasn’t even asked to go for grocery shopping. I was usually made fun of by my classmates; they used to call me “baccha may” which means “a small girl” or “a kid” in Bengali. My whole school life, my father used to take me to school and my mother used to bring me back. Even in tuition classes, my mother used to take me at the destined time and she used to wait outside my classes for 3 whole hours, and then she used to escort me back home. My parents are extremely strict and never gave me a chance to fool around, and bunking classes simply means an open invitation to parents, to “disown” me. I even used to think a hundred times before cracking a joke or laughing at one, because I knew my mother was standing outside the window, cunning and aware enough to notice every move I make, just like the game of chess.

Some of my friends used to consider my strict parent as “cute and caring”, but as people say, strict parents raise rebellious kids; I always searched for opportunities to break free. I understand that in a country like India, where rape cases are faster than pizza delivery, my parent’s concerns are valid. I understand that I need to be careful, but not at the cost of my freedom.

The real struggle started when my rebellious nature gathered everyone’s attention. I demanded that I will go alone to the tuition. At first, my parents thought that I was joking, but when I stressed my demands, my parents became furious. Firstly they thought that their “sweet innocent daughter” was being seduced by some tuition guy. We had endless fights, resulting in a much-distorted image of mine in front of my parents. No, I wasn’t in love or being seduced, I just wanted that feeling of freedom, that feeling of being in control of my life. The tuition wasn’t far, just a bus ride, that’s it, but my parents started behaving as if I have demanded to travel to the North Pole. Maybe it wasn’t about the tuition, maybe it’s the mindset that once a girl is set free, there’s no looking back.

So after struggling for around 4-5 weeks, my parents finally agreed, but on one condition. The condition was that I can go alone but, my father will accompany me while returning. I agreed. Convincing my parents is equivalent to pushing a mountain, so if it moves by even 0.000001 millimeter, that’s a win for me. My parents were extremely suspicious and called my tuition teacher for assurance. I was so happy with my small win, my first time traveling alone.

So on the auspicious day of my tuition, I dressed up in my favorite jeans and top and even applied some lip balm. I was extremely happy and tense at the same time. Generally, people feel butterflies in their stomach, that day I felt elephants. All dressed up, I came to say bye to my parents; my mother and father were also tensed, for obvious reasons. My mother told me to pray to god for my safety before I left, I did what she told me. And so, I started my adventure of a lifetime.

I started moving away step by step from my house, and all the excitement evaporated, leaving behind only anxiety. With every step I took, fear crept into my core. I could feel every stranger staring at me, their stare felt like needles, piercing through my skin. Within 5 minutes, I felt the intense desire to go back home, crying. Every stranger I passed felt like a monster, coming to engulf me with their wicked eyes. I felt lost and a sense of defeat sipped into my spine. Suddenly, I felt angry and started blaming my parents for never letting me go outside alone, resulting in this disaster. Drowned in my own thoughts, I realized that I have reached the bus stop. I can’t lose so easily, so I summoned my inner Hermione Granger, and started walking forward.

When I entered the bus, I felt a bit relieved looking at other girls of my age traveling alone. Luckily I got a seat and I got lost again in my thoughts. How helpless and weak I am, I thought. How disabled I am, can’t even travel on my own. The conductor asking for the fare pulled me back to reality, so I paid him and tried to concentrate on the brighter side. So, what now? I asked myself. Can I consider myself to be independent now? Can I count on myself to find my way back home if I ever get lost? A thousand questions popped like popcorns in my head. Finally, I reached my stoppage and got off the bus. And suddenly, all my dense black clouds of doubts cleared out, giving way to my sun of hope. Maybe everyone feels this way for the first time, I thought to myself. Maybe things will get better, I concluded.

I received applause once I entered my tuition center, as my tutor had already announced this big event of me coming alone, to all the friends. The tutor called my parents to confirm that I have reached, safe and sound. And all my friends were excited to know my experience of traveling alone for the first time, so I reshaped my story a bit and delivered them a heroic version of my story.

Concluding my slice of life, I can’t stress enough on the importance of being independent in the smallest of ways possible. Especially being a girl, you need to find your own ways of pleasure and power. Once a butterfly break opens its chrysalis, there’s no looking back.

About the author

The article was submitted by Sneha Baidya a student of Guru Nanak Institute of Technology as a part of Penned Thoughts 2.0 article writing competition organized by RGVTUAN.

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