As usual that day, the sun rose in a small sleepy village, located several kilometers away from the city of Mangalore. But the only unusual thing was along with the roosters crowing.There was a loud sound of a baby colic from Vijaya’s house. Neighbours went to see the matter. Soon, others started to gather. Elderly women from the nearby houses suggested some home remedies without even knowing the exact problem the baby had. So obviously it didn’t work.
Soon a young girl shouted. “Wait, let me call Meenakshi akka.” Immediately the villagers remembered about Meenakshi and insisted to call her. The girl ran towards Meenakshi’s house and desperately started to call her. Meenakshi’s mother rushed out of the house in worry. And enquired about the reason for the call. The young girl explained the situation to Meenakshi’s mother and asked her to send Meenakshi immediately. “That lazy bitch is still lying in the bed.” Her mother replied. And then Meenakshi’s mother made some unsuccessful effort to wake her. But when her mother informed Meenakshi that Gowda’s daughter Sowmya is calling you and there is some problem with Vijaya’s baby, without any second thought she woke up, washed her face and rushed towards Vijaya’s house.
Seeing Meenakshi arriving, villagers got a bit relieved. Soon she took the baby from her mother. And placed in her lap to examine than she laid the baby on his back and gently started to rub the his back. She soaked the baby in lukewarm water. And after few minutes the baby stopped crying. There was a huge smile on the face of the baby’s mother and a sense of relief on his father’s face.
Everybody praised Meenakshi for her quick response to the situation. While, moving out of the house she noticed a woman holding some lemons, and chillies which she had bought to cure the baby by witchcraft. Meenakshi got furious and taunted the lady. “These vegetables and spice are good for cooking only, not to cure humans.”
That’s how Meenakshi was – a teenage girl living with her mother. Fortunate enough to study till seventh grade. Due to their financial condition, her father had to move to the city for a better job. To take care of her mother she had to leave the school. Though she was not much educated but due to her presence of mind, she was always a great help to her mother, her neighbours and villagers. Meenakshi didn’t have branded clothes, she used to carry her simple traditional clothes with great grace. She didn’t have access to synthetic makeup. But her face had a glow. She never, went to gym but the whole day of hard work in the fields and organic food kept her well maintained and healthy. She was ambitious and full of life in spite of all the difficulties in her life. No gadgets and social media. No virtual friends, no fake relationships. All she had was few real friends and people around her, cherishing every moment of life.
She used to teach kids to read and write, especially those who could not afford schooling. She raised her voice whenever she found any injustice happening to the weak and poor. This girl had bought a change in the way villagers used to see the girl child. Other girls used to follow her as an idol. They learnt to be bold and graceful at the same time, from Meenakshi. One day her father returned back from the city. Meenakshi was excited and her joy had no limits. One afternoon she sat beside her father and hugged him. Her father placed his hand on her head to bless her in affection. She asked for one wish from him. That she wanted to continue her higher education and wanted to be an officer one day and make them proud. But soon her heart broke when she saw her father had removed his hand from her head and the smile on his face had disappeared. She got the answer and didn’t argue much.
Next day as soon as she got up and freshened, her mother gave her a new saree to wear. She was surprised. “Today there is no occasion nor any function? So why this new saree?” She asked. “Someone is coming to see you,” said her mother and went inside the kitchen.
Meenakshi stood still for few seconds. She was unable to comprehend what was happening? And what will happen next? After, some time she came back to her senses and resisted to wear the saree. But the guest was already at her doorstep. They were welcomed by her father with all the grace and respect. Her mother grabbed her inside the kitchen and dressed her well. She listed a series of dos and don’t dos. Like, “Don’t talk much”, “Don’t ask any questions”, “Don’t deny anything they say” and more.
The boy and his parents inspected her from top to bottom and asked few questions. Her father answered all their queries on behalf of her. Nobody was bothered to ask about her like and dislikes. Everything was discussed from venue to menu and dowry. The proposal was finalised. Meenakshi tried to initiate some talks with the boy but due to nervousness, her throat got chocked. Soon they left after having the food. That night she tried convincing her mother but nothing worked.
One day Meenakshi was sitting near the riverside, lost in her thoughts. Gowda’s daughter saw her and asked innocently, “Akka, what happened? You seem sad?”
“Nothing.” Meenakshi replied in a sad tone.
“I am like your younger sister. You can share with me akka.” The girl insisted.
Unable to hold her grief, Meenakshi opened her heart out. She spoke to the young girl about the difficulties and hardship of being a girl. And specially when a girl is from a small town. The girl was too young to understand all this in depth. But all she could understand was if she had to achieve anything in life, she would have to take her own stands in life.
“So akka, why don’t you take your stand? The girl asked.
“It’s too late now. But young girls like you can make the difference. Beauty and sensitivity are your strength. Don’t make it your weakness. Anyway, I have to leave now.” Said Meenakshi and left from there.
After, few months Meenakshi got married and bid goodbye to her village, friends and her students. That day Gowda’s daughter cried whole night. She missed her akka and teacher a lot. The girl wondered whether Meenakshi’s husband will allow her to pursue her dreams or not. If he did, than it’s ok. But if he didn’t then all her aspiration and ambitions will die within her. The girl saw herself in Meenakshi’s place over the next few years. Imposed on someone and wondering whether her ambitions and desires will be fulfilled or not? It will all depend on someone else!
That night this little Gowda’s daughter decided to take her own stand in life and fulfil her ambitions in any circumstance.
And today I am here in this podium narrating this story of mine. Holding this award for the “Innovative Principal of the Year.” said Somiya Gowda. “Thanks to my teaching staff and students who made it possible. And I want to dedicate this award to my akka, Meenakshi and my parents. Thank you so much akka, wherever you are. For inspiring and motivating to take our own stand in life. Irrespective of the gender we are born in. Sometimes you don’t have to rich, successful or a motivational speaker to inspire someone. It can also be done with simply sharing the wisdom and passion you have with you. Like this small-town girl, Meenakshi did.