It’s been a long long time ago yet I can relive almost every moment. As a young beautiful girl 18 years of age, a graduate in home sciences with unequalled energy, enthusiasm and will power, I was all set to shoulder my father’s responsibilities with equal zeal. I wanted to help him with his farm work. Those were the days of 1981, paddy sowing season. Young, beautiful and innocent Amanpreet Kaur was playing the role of the son of a farmer, going with her father around in the fields, doing all the jobs what her brother or any man in the family would do. Not giving a thought for a split second that I was in a close knit Jat Sikh family where girls are either supposed to be studying in the hostel or in the house, behind the main door, once they are at home. That’s when the dooms day creeped in, criticism flowing from all young and old in the family. My desire to help the family was undeterred; rather I had taken the step with good intention without realising what’s lying in store for me. Everyone said myy working in the field was an “unethical practise” which sounded more like a sin. And believe me, it turned out to be such.
It was like a host of negative energies that moved me from the village to the nearest big town in search of a job which was not really needed. As I sat in the rickshaw on the way to my aunt’s house there, a motorbike stopped in front. It was a neighbour from the village. He asked me to visit his sister who could help in searching a job. I met her, got captivated with the aura of Gurpreet, and soon shifted with her leaving my aunt’s house. Gurpreet stayed with her family, where her brother, the neighbour, also resided under the same roof. The energy and confidence that drives your youth, sometimes overlooks the practical aspects. And I fell for that. Once again, objections from across the community started pouring in left, right and centre, each one dreading for the worst to happen owing to the fact that a young girl and boy lived under the same roof.
I wished either all of them or I had read the book “The Secret”, maybe I and our families would have been saved from the disgrace, shame and so much more.
Three years went by. I was completely hooked. None could get me back from the city; neither could they get me off the boy’s house. All tried but in vain. My mother cried, my brother came to take me back. Finally it was my father, for whom I was the best child, came and brought me back home.
I made all efforts to stay out of reach of the boy or his family. But it felt as if a spell was cast for decades together. It followed me to my college where I had taken to part time teaching and finishing my course for Statistics. Here I was living with my Professor and his family happily, concentrating on my studies. There, one afternoon in October 1984, my friend came and said, “Amanpreet he has come!” My first reaction was, “Why did you have to tell him that I’m here?”
But still somehow I walked back with her after finishing my lunch. I thought I’ll meet him and return home but that was never to happen.
When I met him again, the 6 months we had lived apart felt like a distant past which shouldn’t be encouraged any further. Maybe it is a spell that takes you away from your support system, without which you live life like the dead. He refused to come home with me. I went back alone. And after 3 hours, I left my certificates in my friend’s cupboard and climbed the bus to travel an unknown and undecided journey. Not realising that this journey would not be a bed of roses.
The difficulties were immense and they cropped up at each step. But they it kept me going. No one other than me and my family bore the brunt. All others twitched their shoulders, deciding that I had committed a sin, can’t be pardoned and should be left alone to live the most miserable life.
Its strange that when we women try to do something right, it is judged and criticised and discouraged. And when we make a mistake, we are ruthlessly discarded, our families called a social disgrace, and left all alone.
In June 2008 I received a telephone call from my aunt, telling me that my mother had passed away. It took me 24 years to call my dad on my mother’s demise.