I went alone to a mall to watch a movie and entered too early, so I was passing my time, window-shopping, and essentially doing nothing interesting. I went to the washroom and went inside a cubicle. Then, I happened to eavesdrop on a conversation that was to change a bit of me forever.
A female voice, was talking to another one. The conversation went like this ( it was in Hindi-Haryanvi, I am giving my translation here)
Person A: He left me, and now I have to put up a display of calm and composure in front of a stranger and get married to him. Parents want it, I don’t. But that does not matter, does it now?
Person B: You still love him?
Person A: Of course I do. How can I stop loving him? But you don’t know what he did. And what happened. You know why he left me? Because his parents did not find my caste suitable. We are of the same caste, but the same caste has its own variations ( she said- ab jaati me bhi aur jaatiyan hai. It struck me hard.)
Person B: Didn’t he fight it out?
A: Ha! Fight it out? He succumbed. His father, in front of him, his mom and me, told him that my family is of the lower category, and cannot bring much dowry, and that he deserves better.
B: What did he say?
A: He kept quiet. We met after two days, and he told me to forget him. I said it will be hard, because, yes, we have had physical relationship also. But I was surprised when he said something when I brought the sex part. He said, it was you who wanted it. I was never looking for it. I wanted your happiness so I did it. I am not attached to you anyway. I loved you, but now circumstances are different. We have to stop meeting.
B: Why do you love him still?
A: I love him because I am human. Human flaw makes me love him ( she said- insaan hone ki galti se pyaar kia, I don’t know if my translation does justice to this). But now I know the condition of women in our society ( aurat ki aukat samajh me aagayi mujhe)
B: What did you tell him?
A: I told him just one thing. And he could not say anything. I told him, “The fact that you could not stand up to your parents, is not your mistake. That is how you have been brought up, and that is how you will think. But I will never forget that you once loved me, because that was the actual you ( wo tumhari asliyat thi) but this incident shows me how society eats up the individual ( samaaj aadmi ko khaa jaata hai). I gave him a hug, and blessed him for life. Tomorrow my parents have set a man up to see me. I am going to just tell him one thing- meri naukri, meri insaaniyat, mere aurat hone ka haq agar chheenna hai, to shaadi mat karo. ( if you want to rob me out of my job, my humanity and my right to be a woman, don’t marry me)
Then she said something about time, and the voices dropped. I quickly came out of the cubicle and I wanted to talk to the woman, hug her, tell her that I have listened to her and she has taught me so much, I saw there was no one. I did not even see her face to recognize her somewhere and tell her how much she has won in life. A random voice, in a random Delhi Mall, helped me understand the greater reality of our country.
I wanted to leave a note saying that she is a winner, but sometimes, you have to live with regrets. That voice, is the voice of a woman, an every woman in India. Maybe, I was never destined to see her. Maybe, these little voices, might make a huge difference in future.
Maybe, we all will win in life.