When a Damsel in Distress Dares to Dream

“The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence”

-Swami Vivekananda

What happens when you marry off a 16-year-old urban girl, who has never had to do so much as wash a plate, married into a rural family where she is expected to single-handedly manage the entire household? Moreover, what happens when her in-laws begin to harass her for not paying a sufficient dowry? Well, in Asha’s case, the girl emerges from the situation as a strong, independent woman who narrates her heart-wrenching story with a heart-warming smile.

Even before she had graduated from middle school, Asha was engaged to a man she had never met earlier. She was informed that she was to move into a strange village, in a strange state with a strange language, and live in the company and service of complete strangers.

“On the first night I spent in the family, they emptied my suitcase and distributed all my clothing amongst themselves. Even though my parents had paid a dowry well beyond their means, my mother in-law was not satisfied. She locked me in my room in a fit of rage and forbade anyone from talking to me. I cried all night.”

For the first two years of Asha’s married life, her husband was working in a different city. “Those were the most challenging years of my life.” She recounts spending endless days working tirelessly, without exchanging a word with another person. “Even those who offered help were sent away by my mother in law.” She recalls.

One afternoon Asha’s husband returned with devastating news – he had lost his job, the only steady source of income for the family.

The whole family was shattered. Asha realized that this was her opportunity to find a place not only in her family but her society as well.

Although it took a great deal of convincing, Asha’s husband agreed when she proposed that the couple should migrate to Delhi. Asha knew this was her only chance to alter her fate.

In Delhi, Asha found employment before her husband did.

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Asha at work

Asha at work

"There is no greater achievement for me than sending my children to school"

“There is no greater achievement for me than sending my children to school”

She was now working as a Housekeeper, using the little she earned to support her family. It was eventually Asha who found her husband a job. Together they began earning enough to afford urban living. Soon they had children, for whose education Asha saved every penny she could.

Today, Asha hopes to establish her own business in tailoring. She has a come a long way from being the outcast of the family to being its greatest source of pride. What is most remarkable is that Asha has no hard feelings. “ My ambition arose from my internal rebellion. For that, I’m only grateful to my husband’s family. “

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A Little Courage is All it Takes

 “You can build walls all the way to the sky and they will find a way to fly above them.

You can try to pin them down with a hundred thousand arms, but they will find a way to resist.

And there are many of them out there, more than you think.

People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth.

People who love in a world without walls,

people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear.”
― Lauren OliverDelirium

Candour. Courage. Compassion. Words, which in today’s world, have gained weight but lost hearts to live within. These words were once the strongholds of success. Today, however, the meaning of success has altered radically. In a world where monetary assets govern every action, these words are slowly drifting into oblivion. People of our generation are the first to recognize the heir to a multibillion empire but would cringe when asked to identify a person of real purpose – someone who did his or her own bit to make the world a better place.

My effort is directed towards these people. Young people who have worked tirelessly for a cause – who have fought innumerable odds – to achieve, to grow and often, simply to survive. These remarkable individuals have exhibited the virtues of Deliberate Leadership in their everyday lives, incorporating values like courage, candour and compassion in their daily lives. Through this attempt, I hope to acknowledge a few extraordinary youngsters who have braved society, friends and even family to stand up for what they believe in. These are colleagues and friends who you and I meet everyday. Their courage inspires us, and we wonder why no one has ever acknowledged them. Well, now we will acknowledge them.

It is important for humankind to realize that courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it is in gritting your teeth through pain, in resisting pressure. Sometimes, it is in the slow walk towards achieving a better life. I invite you to join me in my  “100 Hidden Heroes Hunt” – an initiative that seeks to unearth hundred everyday trailblazers. A journey that hopes to inspire, overwhelm and, in its very own way, reward.