This article is about a prudent girl that saw shortcomings in the world around her and without thinking twice tried to make it a little better.
Incident 1: Making Her Neighborhood Happy
The first time I saw her, I remember exactly, she was seven years old, wearing her favorite blue frock, had her hands dirty but intentions clear as a crystal. She was doing plantation diligently alone in her backyard. An avid follower of books and innocent in her conscience, she deeply attached herself with the statement written on the front door of her home, “Prakriti se prem kare aur Jaanwaron ki raksha kare!” (love nature and protect the animals!). At that time, she was studying in fourth grade and used to joyously hop to her school which was only ten steps away from her home, and unlike other kids her age, she used to be excited to go to school. For in school, she would meet her dear friend who was also her teacher, Miss. Anita, who would teach her so many new things. It was from her she learned about the vitality of oxygen and the importance of a balanced environment when Miss. Anita presented, to the entire class, an image where one side was marked happy in green with trees, mountain, river, and on another side marked sad in black with seemingly dead land, no water, no tress only black smog coming out of factories. It was this picture that got imprinted in her mind and from that day onward a little piece of her heart was dedicated to plants and trees.
Putting thoughts to action, this little girl devised a plan so that her home would replicate the happy side of that image shown by Miss. Anita. So, she was sure of filling her backyard with as many trees as possible. Near her home, there was a Neem tree, and Neem if you know drop its seeds (Nimbori in Hindi). In the monsoon season, these seeds easily grow to beautiful small baby Neem plants, and often, they grow in the bunch but die if not separated and replanted. She took these baby Neem plants and re-planted them in her entire backyard. When she was finished making her backyard “happy”, the leftover baby Neem plants she took to her neighbors and requested them to plant them in their backyards. Neighbors at first laughed at her innocent request and later adored and thanked her for planting. I have saved in my mind this snapshot of hers, a girl in a blue frock and dirty hands, determined to make her neighborhood “HAPPY”.
Incident 2: Trying to Stop a Child Marriage
Another memory of her that I have is from 2008 when she was a teenager. After an arduous day in high school, she quickly had her lunch and went out to play with her friends in the neighborhood, donning her pretty pink frock. After uncountable giggles, smiles, and mischief, when she returned home her mother told her that she is going to miss her friend Rekha soon as she is going to get married. “But, but Rekha is even younger than me and I am not even sixteen. How can she get married? Doesn’t her parent know it is illegal to marry their daughter before she is eighteen?”, she cried. Her mother tried to comfort her by saying, Rekha’s destitute father is taking up a loan and marrying her elder daughter who has grown up to be eighteen this year and he wants to marry off Rekha also in the same wedding ceremony and in the same household as her elder sister’s because he cannot afford to throw multiple wedding ceremonies. She tried to argue with her mother but soon understood the futility of it. So instead, she started putting together a plan in her head to stop the wedding.
She requested her father, her brothers to intervene and “smack” some sense into Rekha’s father but to no avail and instead got reprimanded herself for even thinking of interfering in someone else’s business. She would meet Rekha stealthily and both would cry at the helplessness of either. The relentless time moved swiftly and brought the day of Rekha’s wedding. While everyone was busy having dinner, she sneaked into the house to check on Rekha and found her and her elder sister in a room. The elder sister looked fine and happy but Rekha was crying uncontrollably. She could not bear the plight of Rekha and came back to her own home. Finding no one nearby, she dialed “100”, to Police. The moment someone picked up the phone, tears rolled down her eyes, and she said
She: "yaha pe hamre pados me ek ladki ki shadi ho rahi hai jo 18 se kam hai,"
(Here, in my neighborhood, a girl is getting married who is not even eighteen)
The person on the other side: Aap kaun bol rahe hai aur kaha se bol rahe hain?
(Who are you and where are you speaking from?)
She: “Main Bodla se bol rahi hun”
(I am speaking from Bodla (a locality in the Uttar Pradesh state of India)).
...and sighting someone nearby she got terrified and hung up the phone.
After 2 minutes, the phone rang again, a return inquiry call from the Police department, but her mother picked up the phone and pacified the situation. Her mother then scolded her, hugged her and comforted her, and stayed with her until she fell asleep in her lap. Unfortunately, Rekha got married and it seemed all her efforts went in vain, but she understood a deeper life lesson of trying her best no matter the outcome.
Incident 3: An Appeal to Bachpan Bachao Andolan
My next memory of her is when she was all grown-up and had finished her graduation. This time she was traveling to Pune to her friend’s place with her elder sister. When she was in the midst of an interesting dialogue with her sister, a small girl entered her compartment and started doing artistic performances in order to ask for money from the passengers. This girl was too young for such kind of activity and this bothered her. When this little girl came to her for the money, she asked her if she needs food to eat? if she is alone? if her mother is with her? Seeing a flurry of questions, the little girl got scared and started crying and said that her parents are in the village and she is with an Aunt who beats her and doesn't give her food. She got shocked as it looked to be a case of forced begging. While she was talking to this little girl, her aunt came and tried to take her away. Resisting her grip on the little girl she started asking questions to her aunt. Meanwhile, other co-passengers joined in on this interrogation. The case looked more suspicious and possibly pointed to human-trafficking as the little girl’s aunt could speak only the Marathi language while the girl spoke Hindi fluently. She immediately dialed Bachpan Bachao Andolan's (BBA) helpline number and explained the situation. For those who are not familiar with BBA, it is an organization founded by Nobel laureate Mr. Kailash Satyarthi that works for unprivileged kids for their rights and a better future. BBA helpline understood the gravity of the situation immediately and asked her the details of the train, the compartment she was in, and the next station. BBA staff promised her that their volunteer will meet her at the next station just until that time doesn’t let the little girl or her aunt leave. And as promised at the next station, BBA staff was present with a police constable and the little girl and her aunt were handed over to the police. All the co-passengers applauded her for her courage and keen observance. She felt satisfied and wished for a better future for the little girl.
Incident 4: Her Voice Against Child Abuse
My most recent memory of her is of 2018 when while scrolling up her Facebook page, she came across an appalling video. In that inhumane video, a person was mercilessly beating a kid. She was so aghast by the scene that she immediately lodged a complaint to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). I wanted NCPCR to be aware of this incident so that they can investigate and apprehend the culprit as soon as possible. NCPCR investigated it and found out that the footage came from some middle east country and they could not do anything except alarm them about the violence. She felt satisfied by her action to complain about the video and the quick investigation by NCPCR.
The girl who wanted to change the world did things without thinking of results, she believed in trying without thinking of being failed or successful because sometimes, you just need to give it a try. Many people choose to ignore such small incidents thinking it is not their business but a small step by us can make a big change in someone else’s life. Like BBA and NCPCR there are many other diligent organizations that welcome complaints and act on them. So, if we become responsible citizens and take a step to call out injustice when we see one, we can become a better society. And sometimes I feel lost, doubtful about achieving things which once I had thought, so I just try to use pen and paper and try to spread what we call, awareness, good vibes, positivity. I am not sure if the girl who wanted to change the world will ever be able to do so, maybe it might be a complete failure but it feels good to know that she tried.