That night before going to sleep, she asked me if I regretted anything in life.
Today, when I look at those dusky sand dunes, those elegant attires, those royal palaces, those grand food servings. I feel proud. Proud of the decision I took back then.
The most awaited month of the year had arrived. My birthday month, which fortunately coincided with my vacations. And all I wanted as my 18th birthday present was a trip to Rajasthan all by myself. These were the perks of turning an adult you know. I put across my wish to my parents that night and they said they would grant me the permission if their morning self agreed with their night self. To my surprise I woke up in the morning just to find a ticket to Rajasthan from my parents. Without wasting any further time, I got ready, hugged them and boarded my train to Rajasthan, ‘the land of great kings.’
Travelling by yourself makes you appreciate the finer things in life, makes you realize how beautiful the world is, makes you realize how important time is and leaves you with a gift of keen observation.
Within 40 hours, I was In the Pink City. City of Jaipur. I had streams of excitement yet nervousness flowing through my body, because this was my first outing alone. I booked my room and after my sleep, I was off on my tour. My uncle had arranged for a guide to show me around the city. The forts, the temples, the culture were all mesmerizing. Pictures don’t do it justice, it is a must see in person. But what constantly kept grabbing my attention was the teen girl called ‘Fulwa’ with the guide. I wondered if she was his daughter. She looked daunt, quite dominated. Not for once did he give her a fatherly look. When the guide stepped out of the cab to quench his thirst, the girl with some hope in her eyes said that she wanted to run away with me. I knew there was something terrible happening. Without even giving her request a second thought I took a rickshaw which stopped only in front of my hotel.
I comforted her in the room and made her tell me what was wrong. As she proceeded with her story, I realized this 16yr old was not a daughter but a wife to that 30yr old man. She had been sold. Sold by her parents to kill their hunger and other greed’s of life. Their daughter meant nothing more than a material to them. The practice of selling daughters to older men and tagging the process as marriage was no new thing in her village she said. I hugged her to give her a homely feeling but then I realized that a homely feeling must have been totally unfamiliar to her. I promised myself to help this girl out by admitting her into a women’s organization. My decision was not just because she was a victim to injustice but also because she was brave and had big dreams which she wanted to fulfill. When she talked of her dreams, her eyes spoke more than her words. She knew she had no resources, no support but she somehow wanted things to change and be in her favor. “What do you want to be Fulwa?” I questioned. “A pilot” came a beaming reply. “I want to fly, I want to see the world, I want to be respected and” “And what?” I encouraged her to talk. “And I want to show my parents that I am no material to be sold. That I am priceless” Tears started rolling down her eyes. Wiping her tears, I told Fulwa about admitting her into the organization, and she was on cloud nine. Her eyes beamed with hope again. She felt courageous.
That night before going to sleep, she asked me if I regretted anything in life, “I wish I was a little more beautiful.” I said smiling.
The next day when I dropped her at the organization, she looked at me with teary eyes and whispered in my ears something which still resonates in my ears, “someone will always be more beautiful, someone will always be more intelligent but someone will never be you.” I knew why she said this. I hugged her tight because I felt quite emotional now. With a promise to visit at least once a year I asked her to step towards her dreams. This was her first step into the big world. I was really proud of Fulwa for the bravery she had shown and I patted my own back for helping the helpless. I felt proud. I felt brave. I felt beautiful and I felt me.
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