Story of a girl hailing from a remote town of Sindh who wanted to study for a better future and faces harassment at university
Maria Khushk | Hydeabad
University life is full of hopes and happiness, students study in university for different hopes, different dreams, and for different purposes. Where many students dream of learning, many students want to enjoy their adult life and few need a degree for a simple job, and in many cases girls wanted education for a better future.
The story begins with young girl Paras who lives in a remote rural area of Sindh where it was difficult for girls to get higher education from a small town. One day, Paras’ brother came home with news that the university is conducting admission test.
“Amma, it’s my dream to be an officer and make you and baba proud of me.” Ahmed said proudly.
Amma was stitching a button on her son’s shirt and said, “I pray for my son to be an officer.”
“And what about me?” Paras overheard the conversation of her brother and mother and interrupted from Kitchen.
“The house chores are the only place for daughters’ and we are looking for a suitable boy for you.” Amma said while folding the shirt.
“Amma, why? Why can’t I get education? Just because I’m a girl. Will my gender decide whether I should get higher education or to become illiterate like you?” Paras argued politely.
“Behave yourself.” Amma said in an angry tone.
Amma got up from the cot and headed towards the kitchen. While Ahmed quietly listened to her sister’s arguments and didn’t react. Paras followed and continuously tried to convince her mother to stand for her right.
“Amma, getting education is my right and I want to be an officer as Ahmed wanted to be. I too will make you and baba proud.”
“Peel these onions off and cut into slices,” Amma handed the basket full of onions to her.
“I’ll but please listen to me first.”
Amma ignored Para’s questions and remained busy with something, but Paras continued, “Amma, why are you doing this to me? Am I not your daughter? I just want education, nothing wrong I need.”
“Talk to you baba.” Amma answered.
In the evening, Paras went to give a cup of tea to her brother. When she knocked on his door and went inside – Paras saw Ahmed was studying for a test and books were spread on the table. When she turned back. Ahmed called her.
“Yes, Ahmed, Do you need anything?”
“Yes,” Ahmed handed a book to her and continued, “Read this book; it will help you out to pass your test.”
“But,” Ahmed cut off Paras’s who uttered something and continued, “Discuss the matter with baba and I’ll help you in every process.”
When baba, came back home from the field work he lay down in his cot. Paras offered a glass of water to him. “Baba, I want permission.” Paras sat down beside her father. “Yes, beta.”
“Baba, the word “beta” usually refers to a boy.”
“Yes.” Baba drank some water.
“Baba then why I cannot get higher education like Ahmed; if I’m your son,” Paras raised a serious question for those thousands of girls who want to get education but cannot due to their parents and for their mindsets. Paras’s father became as silent as a stone and became unmovable as a statue. Maybe her father was thinking the same question, why cannot they allow their daughter for education?
“Baba, answer me.” Paras asked politely.
Her mother interrupted saying to her father, “I asked Adi Hajra to bring the family of a boy by tomorrow. If you find suitable then we will say yes to them.”
“Baba, I really want to get education. After that I will marry whomever you will ask.”
Father placed his hand on Paras’s head and allowed her for higher education but he faced many difficulties like people’s unbearable and unwanted comments. “Who will marry her daughter?” One of them said, “Is he insane?” One of them said, “I don’t want to talk to a person who wants to give higher education to her daughter.”
Paras reached the city along with her brother and appeared in the entry test, and passed the exam with great marks. She enrolled herself in the university, but she didn’t know the other difficulties were waiting for her.
Paras wore a simple dress and covered her head with a hijab and flip flop in her feet, as she didn’t have enough money to buy something new for herself. She regularly attended her classes and was a very hard worker too. She studied hard day and night to make her parents proud as she promised them, and there was one more reason for working hard: the current situation of her father who was facing in the village and she wanted to give them a shut up call.
One evening, when Paras was working at home assignment, her phone buzzed. She picked up phone to check out the message, “Hey, How are you?” to her surprise, it was her male teachers’ message.
“Why did he text me at this time?” Paras murmured herself.
She replied politely, “Yes, sir,” as she did not know the purpose of his message.
Paras received another message in the blink of an eye, “I know, you are living in the hostel and no one is your roommate yet.”
“What? How did he know that much about me? And what’s his purpose for sending me such a message?” Paras saw her teacher’s message and wondered a while.
Another buzzing of the phone completely shocked her, “If you want to pass my subject then you have to meet me outside of the university or even in my office and if you show or share my messages to anyone then you wouldn’t pass your subject throughout the semester.”
Paras was already worried about her villagers who usually tease her father on a daily basis. She didn’t solve her first problem and she stuck with another. She picked phone to inform her brother, then suddenly, something ran in her mind, “If I let Ahmed know about my current situation then he wouldn’t allow me to appear in my exam and definitely he will send me home. What should I do? I’ll work hard and pass Sir’s exam.” She put back her phone and started studying.
Next day, teacher asked the Paras in class to meet in his office, saying “I have to discuss something about your assignment.” Paras was completely puzzled by the teacher’s behavior. She was stuck whether to go or not to go. If she will go to his office, it would hurt her image, and if she doesn’t go then she would fail the exam and it would hurt her image too. Even she was not able to share her problems with any of her teachers because teachers support each other and they will never listen to her without proof, and even if she proves, they won’t listen to her. On the result day, Paras got “A” in every subject but she got “F” in the subject taught by that teacher.
Moral: A girl faces many issues in her life. Everyone imposed their decision on her because of their weak gender. And she cannot share her problems, because she knows no-one would listens to her or accept her problems. She faces harassment, bad comments, faces mental torture. Neither her family nor teachers listen to her issues. With whom should she discuss the problem and find the solution? Does anyone have an idea of how much she struggles and fights throughout her life?