Half the Universe

Rani woke up early today even before sunrise. Her quarterly exams were going to start and she’s very excited. She has to sit for her favourite math paper today, for which she’s been waiting since her last math exam. A girl of fifteen, she can recite to you like a parrot, any multiplication table you ask for. Like a parrot. With a brightly coloured face, a curved nose, and her intelligence, she bore a resemblance to a parrot.

‘You have the blessings of Goddess Saraswati herself, my dear,’ her mother always said while plaiting her hair to get her ready for school. Her mother was her closest friend, who was overcome with pride every time she saw the medals and awards Rani had won.

A happy girl

Today, her mother gave her a new dress.

‘But today isn’t my birthday!’ Rani reminded her mother.

Tears welled up in her mother’s eyes. It was only now that Rani noticed the bruises on her mother’s face. She asked her what had happened. How could she tell the small girl? Wouldn’t her little heartbreak if she was told that her mother was thrashed by her father for opposing this arrangement? And without even asking her, she was given away for no fault of hers. Just because of her father’s greed for money. She was married off to a man she saw for the first time in her life, who was thrice her age, on that very day. On the day of her favorite math exam.

They snatched away her books from her and melted down all her medals. They finally managed to put her inside a cage. The parrot in her flew away, leaving her alone inside. A forlorn flower withered even before blossoming.

There are thousands of Ranis all over our country. Those doctors, scientists, boxers, entrepreneurs, administrators, journalists, lawyers, dreamers, and achievers, who are being stopped even before starting the race.

National Girl Child Day is celebrated on January 24 every year. It was started to increase awareness of issues faced by girls and to take a stand on female foeticide, domestic violence and malnutrition in children.

These are some shocking statistics regarding gender inequality prevalent across the globe. More than 62 million girls around the world have no access to education. Worldwide and collectively, girls of ages 5 to 14 spend more than 160 million hours more on household chores than boys of the same age do. Globally, one in four girls is married before 18.

Let’s stop snatching from her what she rightly deserves. Let’s put an end to shattering her aspirations and dreams, for

None of us is free, if one of us is chained. -Solomon Burke.

Today, on National Girl Child Day, tell her what a shero she is, and let her live a life of her choice with dignity.

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.

About the author: Revathi Balaga

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