The beginning of my story is a little blurred. When, as an 8 month old, you are picked up by your father and thrown 20 yards away like a stone because your cries disturbed his sleep, the pain is blurring. When, you are sick and suffer for days as the family debates if you have a right to live, it does weaken your eyesight. When, a 5-year old, you fall from a stack of bricks (where someone made you sit), break your nose and just let to bleed for months, it blurs your vision.
But, as the story advances, things get better. Some moments are extraordinarily clear: male cousins touching me where they are not supposed to touch, neighborhood kids joking, calling me ‘flat nose’, my beautiful sister refusing to go out with me because I am ‘ugly’. And then, one day, when I am leaving for boarding school, I realize, there isn’t a single family photo that I can take, because none has me. I was born a girl when my family expected a boy. So, I was not meant to be one of them.
The revelation is damaging. I can’t decide what to do with this ugly, unwanted me. I stay away from everyone for the fear of being ridiculed. Slowly, I become a pariah.
But, years later, I am a journalist against all odds and report on people living within margins. Every day, I meet women who are often abused by their male relatives, wear hands-me-down clothes and torn sandals held together with a safety pin. These are women who wash, cook, clean 18 hours a day and are still called ‘dharti ka bojh’(burden on the earth). I listen and cry; I have been there.
Then I listen a little more: these marginalized women of India are actually a rising army of change makers; they are taking micro loans to buy computers, cell phones and start a business; they are laboring with men and demanding equal pay; they are fighting displacement, corruption, domestic violence, and, even elections.
‘This army deserves a space in the media’, I think, ‘its stories need to be amplified, so, world over, people can be inspired and strengthen their own fight’.
But, after a few stories, my editor is ‘bored’. So I spend hours, looking for forums that are ready to hear women who are bruised in body, but whole in spirit.
One day, google leads me to World Pulse. I post a story. Someone in faraway Africa reads it and tells me that it made sense to her! ‘Write on,’ she urges. And, suddenly, I know, I have got what I always dreamed of: a home where I and my words matter; where I am beautiful, dignified, and I can be the voice of the future.
Yes, the beginning was blurred. But the end isn’t. Because, at the end, I have a family picture and it includes me.Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision