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DAUGHTERS OF INDIA

FOUR FRIENDS

‘What is going on? Keep quiet.  If I find anybody talking, I will throw the girl out of class and will send her to Principal” announced the class teacher Ms. Pareira. The class quietened.

 Complete silence prevailed.  But Archana could not leave their conversation incomplete. She continued in a subdued voice. “So, you three are coming to my house tomorrow after school gets over,” Archana whispered.

“Yes. But we will have to leave a little early as I am expecting some guests at home. My aunt is coming.” Shubhangi said.  Rageshri was a little upset over Shubhangi’s reply. “You always have something or other” Kalpana said.

“Oh! There is still some discussion going on” Pareira was annoyed. She directly looked at Shubhangi.

“You there. Get out of the class and wait there till Principal calls you.”

“But madam …. I have not done anything.”

“Don’t tell lies. Get up and leave the class.”

Shubhangi hesitated. Madam Pareira got irritated. She pointed at Archana.

” And you too. You were also talking. Archana, you also leave the class.”

“What is this? This is atrocious.” Rageshri whispered in Kalpana’s ears. Pareira saw this. “And you two. Both of you also stand outside. Now you will know what class discipline is. Be quick. Do not waste time.”

So, the four best friends were standing out of the class waiting for the call from the Principal to receive firing for undisciplined behavior.  They all were tense and did not utter a single word. Their heads were down.

When peon took them to the Principal’s room, they were almost in tears.

“So you are from class nine A. What are our names?”  without raising her head from the files, the Principal murmured.

“Shubhangi”

“Archana”

“Kalpana”

“Rageshri”

“So, you were making noise in the class. Don’t you understand your responsibility? Behaving like kindergarten children. In two years, you will appear for SSC and then you will head for college. Is this the image you are going to carry to the outside world?”

Meanwhile, some office members were waiting for the Principal’s time to talk to her. When the principal noticed them, she turned towards them.  “Ok. This time I am pardoning you. Any more such complaint and I will call your parents to hand over the order of rustication of their daughters. Understand? Now go and attend your class.” Saying this she indicated the girls to leave the office and she started looking into administrative matters.

All the four girls, relieved a bit, quickly left the principal’s cabin and ran towards their classroom.

SHUBHANGI

Yes, She was one of them. Shubhangi was her full name but everybody called her Shubha.

Shubha was the only daughter of her parents. Devdhar – a middle-class family. Mr.Devdhar was very intelligent but not ambitious. Happy with whatever job he had. Satisfied having a promotion from clerk to head clerk. But after their marriage, when he got his first child – a daughter, he decided to do something not traditionally bound. The couple decided to have no more children. Against the sentiments of their family members, they were happy with a single child that too a daughter.

Devdhars brought up Shubha in a completely different manner hereto not known to their family. Shubha was admitted into English medium school and not their vernacular medium. She was given the training to follow Hindu traditions along with the new thinking introduced by the school environment. Devdhars were very particular about treating Shubha as their son and letting the age-old traditional idea of the girl being of inferior gender not influence her upbringing.

Result-a confident, ambitious, intelligent, traditionally not so bound human being introduced to society.

ARCHANA

Archana was born to a slightly unconventional couple. Never concerned to follow the rituals; religion, cast, language barriers, etc. themselves, the Deshmukh couple naturally brought up their only daughter as a child without any inhibitions in life. Since both of them were from communities speaking different languages, the obvious choice of medium of schooling was English. Born a little shy, Archana was cautious in opting for different activities in society. But once adopted, Archana performed exceedingly well in every field. Along with studies trekking, hiking, etc. were her field of interest. Perseverance was highly noticeable in her approach to every activity she chose. She did not hesitate to mix with different groups but did so with caution. So, usually, it took time for her to accept somebody in her circle. But once in her group, Archana would be a dependable friend in every situation when anybody needed guidance, help, assistance or just to open out the mind.

Result – a personality intelligent, diligent, bankable, having independent thinking, without the influence of preconceived notions.

KALPANA

Kalpana was the second child of Parchure couple. A very tradition-influenced family, Parchures were concentrating on their first child, a son. All favors were reserved for the son. By a stroke of luck, Kalpana got admitted to an English medium school. But not so educated Parchures took care that their daughter follows the same path as Mrs. Parchure had lived through. Females are born to serve the superior male gender was the basic thought being injected into Kalpana’s mind. Kalpana was intelligent, bright but always overshadowed by an inferiority complex. Kalpana was performing sufficiently well in school but did never receive encouragement from her parents.  She never got permission for picnics from school if it was extended overnight. Kalpana was burdened by kitchen work even during her examinations. She was told her goal of life should be to become a good housewife and should concentrate on only house matters.

Result- an intelligent personality not allowed to grow fully in an open field. It was trimmed to the ideas of parents who carried traditional bias against feminine sex.

RAGESHRI

Rageshri was born to a family of a very traditional business community. Education was of a very low priority not only to girls but also to male members of the family. In such a scenario Rageshri found a balance between family thinking and the reality of the present. Intelligence combined with sensitivity to other family members’ points of view played important role in Rageshri’s career. Initial opposition for post-graduation later was converted into support for further specialization in a foreign country.

Result- a strong-willed character, taking traditional restrictions on stride.

QUEST – I                                      

Shubha entered the USA for post-graduation.  Her new life was woven around JAVA, PYTHON, and the WEB world. New friends. New assignments. Away from parents. Away from old friends.

University classes –different from earlier classes. Shared room. Roommates from different countries. Food availability – western food. Indian preparations – Indian grocery stores.

Everything new. Shubha got used to the new environment. Food habits. Behavioral styles, and new style of clothing too. She changed her lookout at clothing. She changed completely.  She adopted the new lifestyle.

Her high IQ made her perform very well in her career studies. Regular telephone calls to parents and reporting progress made Devdhars happy. After two long years, Shubha got her Master’s. Devdhars were looking forward to Shubha’s return to Mumbai and look for a job. Since India also was making progress fast under changed political leadership, Devdhars thought Shubha would get a job of her choice in India only. But Shubha had different plans. She applied to Microsoft, the best job provider for IT aspirants in the US. Shubha got the job and she conveyed the good news to Devdhars. On one hand, they were happy that Shubha got the job of her choice but on the other hand, they also realized that this happening was going to delay her returning to India and her marriage prospects to a boy of their choice. They were prepared that after marriage, to set up her new life with her life partner, it was inevitable that she would stay away from their house and they would be able to visit her place anywhere in India whenever they missed her. But now symptoms were that she was going to stay so far away that their visiting her would be far from easy. Here in US Shubha was getting extremely busy with her job. More assignments, more success, more promotions. In this fast-paced life, she came across Amit who was her classmate in Engineering college in Mumbai. He was also in the IT field but with Google. When she met him first in a conference, it rekindled her college days in India. Amit was a very nice boy, very serious and studious then. Shubha found Amit the same. Some sort of strange feelings were generated in Shubha. She thought if he was inclined, Amit would be the right guy to settle with for life. As per her upbringing, she was interested in an Indian boy, of her religion even if he is from a different community. She thought of her parents. Considering their thinking, Shubha thought Amit would earn their approval. She approached Amit with the proposal and Amit was too glad to coincide. Both decided to get married in India in their parents’ presence.

Shubha disclosed her decision to her mother.  Her mother was upset at first instance. Shubha choosing her life partner on her own without their consent was unacceptable to them. Though Devdhars had nurtured Shubha to be completely independent, her being independent to the extent of choosing the life partner was shocking to them. Secondly, the boy was from a different community. How can they face the orthodox relatives? Devdhars first opposed the idea and told Shubha to reconsider. They told her of some boys in acquaintances who were well behaved, from their community, and most importantly settled in India only. That would make matters easier. But Shubha was firm on her decision. She tried convincing her parents that the boy was Indian and they would hold up to the very first opportunity to shift to India if their career was not affected. Devdhars were not impressed by this promise and were getting slowly inclined to accept the idea of Shubha settling in the USA. They were getting satisfactory reports of Shubha’s progress there and were not prepared to apply brakes to her climbing up the ladder by imposing their ideas on her. Finally, both the parents met in Mumbai and chalked out a plan for the wedding in Mumbai after consulting both the candidates.

Nearly a year had passed for their marriage and Shubha was little free to think of her friends from the school. She was so busy with her career on top of newly married life, that she could not spare even a few minutes to think about them.

That evening when she returned home from the office after a hectic schedule, she freshened up and arranged for the dinner to be had soon after Amit’s arrival. Cooked on Sunday morning some Indian-styled vegetable, was taken out and put into microwave for making it hot. Some gravy too was made ready to accompany rice. She looked at her watch. Amit would take nearly an hour more to reach home. She was happy that she had applied for a competitive event in software. She took out the papers and was brushing up the material to be sent to the apex body for evaluation. When Amit arrived, they finished their dinner and sat down to discuss her paper for the competition.

QUEST – II

Archana completed her masters in India in biological sciences.  Decided to pursue studies to get a doctorate, she applied to various universities for admission.  Since the possibility of financial aid from parents was very bleak, Archana opted for a university in the US that provided a teaching assistantship to support her expenses during studies. One of the family acquaintances, who was staying in the same city, was contacted, and with her help staying arrangement was made. And Archana started chasing her career goal in a far-off place, away from her own country and new atmosphere.  She had to complete her masters as a part of an integrated course. This she did with great satisfaction. The research environment which demands a lot of self-initiative was new to Archana.  Colleagues from different countries were part of the complex surrounding. In addition to this, the cold atmosphere made the matter more difficult. During winter, the below minus 20 degrees temperatures, demanded a different kind of clothing especially the woolens which she had never even heard of. The snow falls, wading her way through heaps of snow, etc. was very new to Archana which added more thrills to her life than a hindrance. She added skiing as her new avenue to her extracurricular activity in addition to trekking, hiking, etc. Archana was taking her tasks with so much interest that her teaching assignments earned her popularity among the student community. Her elocution skills came to her assistance in her periodical presentations of laboratory work. Everything was going great for Archana when all of a sudden, an unexpected thing happened in the laboratory. The scientist under whose guidance Archana was holding her ground strong, decided to leave the university and that was a big setback to Archana’s career. This incident had put spoke in her ambitions by at least two years. A new guide means to start all over again. But firm she was. She consulted her seniors and decided to join another lab where she found a project with prospects in the future. Archana took this setback in her stride and started working on a new project with full vigor.

Archana was so much buried in the project work that she had hardly any time for her friends. Weekends were also used to complete the tasks which needed more working hours. Despite total dedicated input, the results were not coming as expected. Archana was getting stretched and buckled under pressure. Any other person would have given up and resigned from the project. But not Archana. Perseverance was a quality that had made her different from others. She fought with the time. She did not succumb to negative results. And her life continued under pressure.

Her colleagues Stephen, Roger provided her the necessary solace in her stressful going.  They were also struggling for their doctorates but they understood Archana’s point of view and always sided with her when she was found advocating her ideas all alone.

After a solid struggle for five odd years, Archana got some stunning results. She pursued with them. And yes, that was an extraordinary achievement. Her name was talked about in the field. She received accolades for her work.

She informed her parents about this happening. Deshmukh’s were delighted. Now they had obvious thoughts of Archana’s marriage. Their half-hearted search for a match for Archana so long now got revitalized and were seriously looking for boys, worthy for Archana.  With their background, their field of the search was much wider than conventional, one can think of.

Deshmukhs talked freely with Archana and asked her if she had spotted somebody worthy of being her life partner. And to their surprise, the answer was affirmative. Roger who was her colleague and very good friend had earned his doctorate and had moved to another city to do post-doctoral research work. As expected Deshmukhs did not enquire about the caste, religion, or even nationality of the boy. Just asked Archana whether she knew of his interests. Archana answered about how he had helped her in her research work, about his interests in skiing, astronomy, etc. Once she had met his mother and father too. They also were keen on her wellbeing. Deshmukh’s told Archana that they would talk to his parents.

QUEST – III

Kalpana applied for Masters and her mother was very irritated with her. She told her husband, Kalpana’s father, “I do not think Kalpana is going in the right direction. When I was opposing putting her in college, your friend suggested letting her do graduation, which will help her get a better life partner. And you agreed to this idea. Now, look at the fruits of that decision. Kalpana wants to continue her studies. She wants to do her masters. What is the use? Ultimately, she has to cook food and manage the kitchen. But this mad girl insists on going for masters. I strongly oppose this idea.”

“Are you crazy to think about studies yet further?”

“Yes, Papa. My friends Archana, Shubha are going for post-graduation. Why not I? Who says I will not manage the kitchen after my post-graduation? I promise I will do everything that Mom wants me to do. But let me complete my masters.”

After a lot of insistence from Kalpana, her father agreed to let her do masters. Mother was annoyed. She decided to make KALPANA a good housewife by making her do all sorts of kitchen work.  Exam or no exam, project work, or any other assignment Kalpana was not spared of her kitchen work. Her brother was also studying but he got all the privileges and was not asked to do any housework.” I do not want to be put to shame by making Kalpana study masters and not good at kitchen work.”  Kalpana’s mother used to utter repeatedly.

With the spirit to counter all that hardship, Kalpana completed her masters with honors. When she heard that Archana was to go for a Ph.D., that idea captured her mind too.

“Baba, I want to do a doctorate,” Kalpana said. And there came a firm statement from her father.

“That is enough. I do not want to hear anything from you. Tomorrow, we have called Mr.Tangade, my friend. His son is an Engineer and he will come to see you. If he likes you, you will be married to him next month. Do not even think of further studies. You will be married within a month or so.”

The next day Tangade family came to see Kalpana. Mrs. Parchure readied Kalpana with a good saree and some gold jewelry. Kalpana looked beautiful and was approved instantly by Tangades first by the seniors and then by the junior, Rajan, whose opinion mattered very little.

After marriage, Kalpana took charge of Tangade’s kitchen and started being an efficient housewife. One day Kalpana opened her heart to Rajan when they were alone in the house. “Actually, I wanted to do a Ph.D. in international politics. But my Ba opposed it. Can I do it now? I will manage the kitchen as well as my office.”

Rajan was broad-minded though a bit traditional. He agreed to it. They disclosed the idea to seniors in the house one evening. And that was it. Rajan’s mother opposed the idea and threatened to leave the house if Kalpana went to the office.  Despite sincere attempts by Rajan to convince his mother, she was adamant on the idea of not allowing daughter-in-law to go out of the house on daily basis. Luckily, Rajan was on Kalpana’s side. He insisted Kalpana should go to an office for further studies.

And Mrs. Tangade senior did leave for her native place when Kalpana started going to the office. Mr. Tangade also followed his wife and went to their native place. But Rajan stood by Kalpana.  She managed her household before going to the office and after coming back home from the office finished all the remaining work. Rajan traditional on that account did not help Kalpana even a bit in the kitchen matters. He insisted that the kitchen had to be managed by the lady of the house alone.

After few months Kalpana conceived and was taken home by Parchures for delivery. A baby girl was born which again was resented by both the mothers. Tanagde and Parchure. After the newborn baby was 2 months old, KALPANA returned to her house where Rajan was managing somehow.  After return, Kalpana took over and made arrangements for baby care during the hours she was to attend the office. Kalpana found it extremely difficult to manage the baby, office, and house kitchen. Except for moral support from Rajan, everything else was managed by Kalpana. But she did continue. She completed her paperwork when the baby had grown 2 years. And Kalpana was awarded Ph.D. in international politics.

She continued her job managing the baby and the kitchen and traveling for an hour by local train to the office.

Days passed by and there was a letter from an international organization inviting Kalpana for a conference in the USA. Kalpana had submitted her paper on TERRORISM and ITS ELIMINATION in an open competition. To her dismay, it had won first prize. And to receive the prize, she was invited with an air ticket to Buffalo, USA.  Rajan was very happy but the idea of Kalpana going alone with the baby did not appeal to him. First, he rejected the idea outright but then he conceded. He helped Kalpana with the formalities of foreign travel.

QUEST – IV

Rageshri returned home with the application for masters. Her father called her close and said ”Rageshri, We are a business community. We earn money by doing business. Nobody in our family has gone beyond graduation. If men do not study beyond graduation, what will a girl like you will do by getting masters? Look at us. We have not studied beyond our schools, forget college. Still, we have made enough money. Your mother has not studied even school but still, she managed our house so efficiently. Your brother is managing the business but he also has not gone to college.

You are the first to have graduated in our family. And now you want to do masters. That is not acceptable.”

“But, Bapu, This is a new field and if I do post-graduation, it will carry weightage.“ Rageshri pleaded.

“Masters and that too in the US. Nothing doing. We will call my sister and ask her to search for a boy for you.”

“Bapu, my friend Archana is planning to go to the US to do a Ph.D. That will be at least 5 years. I am thinking of MS which will be only two years. Bapu, please”

Nothing could convince her father. But once Archana’s parents met him and they discussed the same matter. And Rageshri found her father thinking differently. He finally agreed and told the family about his consent. Rageshri’s grandmother made her hue and cry. Talked about going beyond tradition will harm Rageshri’s marriage prospects. Rageshri being accommodative, did not give up her efforts to convince her grandmother and her mother who was not totally against the idea.

So finally, Rageshri applied to the US university and after her admission was confirmed, took a flight to the USA. Clinical research was the field of her interest. She landed in Los Angeles and started pursuing her career with full zest.

After successful completion of the course, Rageshri joined an organization and invited her parents to her place. They put up the condition. Unless she agrees to tie the knots with a boy of their choice, they would not be interested in visiting her. Rageshri realized the seriousness of parents’ sentiments. She promised them to go back to India after the completion of a project which would take no more than six months. And Rageshri did complete the project very successfully for which she was nominated for an extraordinary achievement award. After reaching India, Rageshri was introduced to a Doctor from their community who was settled in Texas, USA. After all the formalities the marriage was fixed to be conducted in Mumbai and then she would fly back to the US along with her husband and pursue her career there.

CONJUNCTION

Kalpana with her three-year-old daughter landed at the Buffalo airport in the afternoon of Friday. Her conference was supposed to start on Monday. The winter was just setting in December. The sky was overcast. The temperature was around 3 degrees.  As informed by the conference organizing committee, Kalpana came prepared with woolen clothing for herself and especially for her daughter.

She called for the taxi and headed for the hotel where she was put up by the organizing committee. After checking into the hotel, Kalpana got herself & her baby refreshed. She started thinking how nice it would have been if she was in contact with her friends. They would have been happy if they knew that she was in the US to receive an international award.

On the day of the conference, Kalpana reached the conference auditorium well in time. The hall was jam-packed.  A few dignitaries took their place on stage. At the predetermined time, the convenor took charge of the microphone.

“Good evening to all. We are so happy that a small event that started ten years ago, has taken such a strong position in international affairs. To appreciate the achievements of the women in different fields, our organization conducts different competitions at international levels and also keeps scanning different publications in scientific fields to note remarkable discoveries by females.

This year we have selected eleven women who have done significant work in fields related to human life. Music, international politics, Information technology, biology, medicines, dance, sports, religion, painting, astronomy, and administration are the fields in which we found some great women achievers.

And I am happy to announce their names and request them to come on to the stage and allow us to felicitate those great personalities who have achieved their goals despite all odds. The path they chose was not an easy one. There were so many obstacles they had to overcome. But they did. They struggled and struggled hard. We salute them with all earnestness.

These personalities for different subjects are from different countries. But this year what a coincidence!

There are four daughters originally from India.

Mrs. KalplanaTangade has won first prize for her article on how to combat international terrorism. A housewife with a traditional family background thought totally on different lines and put her ideas on how to tackle international terrorism. She has proved everyone wrong who thinks housewives cannot think internationally.

The second name on the list, a biological scientist is Archana Deshmukh. Fighting against all odds, Archana found out a phenomenon that was going to help humanity in dealing with many a disease. Archana has defined the word perseverance very profoundly and with the necessary intelligence she discovered a relationship between different neurons of the human brain.

The third achiever is Shubha who is a computer scientist who has developed new logic which is going to make use of computers for illiterate persons.

The next is Rageshri who has got extraordinary methods in clinical biology. She has developed some methods which will be a great help in diagnosing psychological diseases.

Our heartiest congratulations to all these daughters of India!

The best achiever in Music is Ms.Sukrino from Uganda. Her contribution to the music world…..

And the list went on to celebrate women.

 But the four daughters of India were stunned to see their classmates from school on stage being felicitated at the same time. They were so happy to see each other after many years and have achieved something extraordinary.

And amidst the thundering applause, the four daughters of India made their country proud.

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