Place: Panvel rickshaw stand
Heading to college as usual after the weekend spent at home, I was waiting for the mandatory 10 people to fill into the ‘tum-tum’ or the 10-seater Vikram rickshaw, which is the second line of transport in Indian towns and villages, after the ubiquitous ST buses. The ‘tum-tum’ leaves only when it is filled to capacity. A lady seated herself on the seat facing me. She was a typical sari-clad, bony, Maharastrian, village domiciled, married young woman. She was accompanied by her 5 year old daughter. She was observing me with curiosity. She finally inquired about the place I was heading to. I replied that I was going to Rasayani. She wanted to know whether I lived there. I answered that I was a student at S. S. Patil College of Agricultural Business Management in Rasayani, the local MLA, Vivekananda Patil’s college, and that I stayed at the hostel there. She seemed awestruck by my large travel bag and by the fact that I was living away from family. She exclaimed that it is amazing how a girl like me was living away from home for the sake of education. I responded by saying that I was not alone. There are plenty of girls and boys who do the same. She then started a monologue about the educational status of her family and the virtues of education.
“Education is so important. No one can succeed without it. It is only after we educate ourselves that we can improve in life. We women should be very particular about our education. My husband has studied up till class 12. I have completed my Bachelor of Arts in Marathi literature. (She had an air of pride at this point). We have enrolled our daughter in an English medium school. Only English medium schooling makes sense in this day. (Pointing at her daughter) But she has no interest in her studies. (Can you) talk to her about it.”
I asked her the class in which her girl was currently. I frankly saw no point in explaining the necessity of regular studies to a child so young that she had no concern about the state of her clothes (While playing, her frock had come up right to her belly) The lady said that the girl was in Upper Kindergarten. I replied that the child was too young to take studies seriously and must play to her heart’s content at this age. My chatty co-passenger’s next response left me speechless.
“Oh no, she must start studying hard. The girl must at least become a doctor.”
God Almighty! "Child must become a doctor" - The Great Indian Parental Dream.
I struggled to keep myself from laughing but controlled myself by thinking that the woman was wonderful. Despite of living in a locality where child marriage is still rife, she has big dreams for her daughter. Whether her girl enters medical school, we will never know, but she will ensure that her daughter completes her formal education. Amen.