She wondered how many like her were out there in the society whose voices were silenced, whose ambitions were curbed and whose each movement was restricted. Society was emerging but still, the women had to stand on the battlegrounds each day and face thousands of ‘enemies’. Piya was just one of them.
Piya belonged to a typical middle-class family dwelling in Mumbai. Though they called themselves modern, their thinking and ideologies were too outdated to be called modern. They kept women within the four walls of the house and their only creative place was the kitchen. Women of her family did go to schools and colleges in the city but weren’t allowed to put their views at the forefront. They were taught not to be ambitious or have any desires.
But surely, destiny had other plans. Piya, a nineteen-year-old, studying at St. Xavier’s College, was a very bright student. She had topped not only her school but the entire state. She wished to go abroad but had to kill her desires. None of her family members knew that she had a passion for writing and wanted to become a writer. Her entire school life went with her refraining from taking part in any Intra or Inter-School Creative Writing Competitions.
One day, her teacher asked, “Why do you deny such an opportunity to boost your writing skills and follow your dreams?”
What answer would Piya give her? How could she tell the truth? How could she explain herself to her? At last, defeated by all these questions, she made up some excuse and returned home with a heartbroken smile on her face. Hours passed and darkness swept over the bright sky. The moon shone brightly in the sky. She sat by the window and pondered. The silence of the night seemed to tell her that she was capable of achieving big things in life and she shouldn’t give up.
“If I don’t do anything now, I may not be able to do anything ever. I have kicked so many opportunities which could have enhanced my skills. By being as my family wants, I would never be able to achieve my dreams; they would never allow it to happen!”
She picked up a pen and paper and started scribbling. Without knowing much where the pen was taking her, she went on. The pen seemed to know the correct way. She went on filling pages after pages, front and back. Once she was done, she picked up all the sheets, arranged them, and started to revise.
“‘The more the spring is pressed, the higher it bounces. The more the dogmatic patriarchal society tries to crush the opinions and dreams of a woman, the more she would revolt.’ Wow, what a beginning!” she thought.
She wrote about the struggles faced by a woman in society every day. Her novella talked about a woman whose wings were cut and she was made to grow into a housewife whose only job was to take care of the household.
“Oh no! The dawn is here. Mom will be awake any moment. I have to hide the sheets somewhere where she can’t get hold of them. Where should I hide them? The desk…no, she might clean it up…the bookshelf…no, it would be found out…then where? Ah yes, under the pile of clothes kept at the very end of the cupboard.”
The alarm clock rang and it was time for her to get ready for school. The day was going like any other until, in the recess, she saw a poster put up in front of the Principal’s office which called for budding writers whose books were welcome to be published at a minimal cost. Piya returned to her classroom.
“Books published at a minimal cost. But how will I send the sheets for publishing? I can’t disclose my name as the author. I can’t take the profit money back home. What will I say to my father? Where did I get the money from? What should I do? My words need to reach the masses. This is the only way to stop such patriarchy imposed on women.”
She returned home, still lost in her thoughts. She kept pondering until she got the answer. She would write the novella under a pen name, as for the cost, she would bear it from her piggy bank and as for the profit she would receive, she would donate it to an NGO. Having decided her moves, she slept happily and peacefully at night.
The next morning, while going to school, she had slipped the sheets and money into her school bag and went off to the courier office on her way to school. She stopped by and put the sheets and the money in a big envelope, sealed it and after writing the address, she handed it to the man in charge. After a week, she returned to the courier office and asked if any post had come from ‘The Self Publication’. The person went through the mails and handed the post in her hands.
“I am so excited. I hope they liked my work.”
She opened the envelope and took the letter out and opened it. After reading, she learned that they liked her work very much and had started the process of publishing it. It will be available in the book shops within another week. The publisher also encouraged her to keep writing and sending such works to them. In the upcoming days, she saw numerous books of hers piled in the book shop and people buying them eagerly.
Even after the success of her book, she didn’t disclose anything to her family, afraid of the consequences. She went on to write books on similar topics, which made a huge difference in the lives of other women. Years passed by and in the end, she breathed her last. Though she was forced to remain silent, her voice through the words of her books shook the entire so-called “modern society”.
Bhavna Jagnani is a budding writer based out of Kolkata. She loves to read and write and aspires to become a writer. She is of the opinion that reading daily helps in building creativity and imagination.