By Ananya Gupta, IIMPACT Intern
Kavita was one of my first new friends from the village Bandipur in Alwar. She was the first one to walk into the room proceeding to confidently sit down beside me, and started questioning me immediately. I have never been so taken aback before. Visiting centers, I was always the first one to talk incessantly, make jokes to break the ice. For the first time I felt like there was no ice to break, and I was already one of them before I had even uttered a word.
She had a constant smile on her face, and laughed freely and almost contagiously making me grin with her involuntarily. Yet despite her joyous nature, her eyes held sorrow, and growing discouragement. I had been happily conversing with the girls about various topics like politics, environment and current news topics these girls were very well aware of, when she abruptly asked me, ‘So are you going to help us in any way, or your just…’
I looked at her astonished by her blunt slightly clipped tone. I felt a surge of offence at first, which melted as I looked at the dejection on her face and explained my purpose to meet her and her friends. She immediately returned to her bonhomie, chirpy nature, with palpable enthusiasm. A little shy at first I managed to get her and peers sing a song or two for me, both of which I had never heard for they were local songs. But their voices, dear god. They sang with such melody and gusto I found myself wishing I knew the lyrics of the song.
If I had thought the singing was delightful when the time came to dance I was beyond ecstatic. Though barely anyone else danced but Kavita was a master. Dancing to the tune of Badtameez Dil from the movie ‘yeh jawani hai deewani’ she danced in rhythm to original moves and steps that left me floundering. She tried to teach me, but I was in pleasant shock just watching her have fun, and the rest of the girls enjoying the entertainment brought forth to them. Tired and sweating about 20 minutes later, I became a little serious and questioned the girls about the difficulties they were facing and required help in. Kavita, jokingly said ‘I could write an entire page of problems my friends and I face’ as they all chuckled lightly, I asked urgently ‘really?’ offering her my notebook I said ‘please! Write it down!’ A little taken aback, she nevertheless took the notebook and began to write earnestly and eagerly in a beautiful handwriting.
I read over her shoulder, my heart turning heavy at the problems in their lives. Be it lack of transportation from their village to Alwar, lack of funds to stay near her college, or parental permission issue’s I sympathized and felt the struggle in her words that fought to change the thinking of her society and achieve her dreams which had already begun to feel unachievable to her and the rest.
Once she had finished, I realized that I had already spent an extra hour here with these girls and sadly began to take my leave. It was a difficult, almost herculean task to separate myself from them for I had come to love them already in 3 hours. They certainly did not make it easy for me. ‘You said we were your friends, so listen to your friends and stay a while longer!’ they said, weaving my earlier words cleverly. I laughed, and reminded them that I would come back soon to visit them once more as fast as I could. While they complained at the ambiguity of that statement, Kavita stood, held my forearm and said softly, staring into my eyes with heavy emotion and said ‘Don’t leave’. I could almost here my own heart begging my mind to stay, but I knew it was time to leave for today. I reassured her, giving her my number and telling her to call me whenever she wanted. ‘Will you answer?’ she asked uncertainly.
I assured her that honestly; I wouldn’t miss it for the world. She smiled at me and asked ‘Will you teach us proper English please? So that we can hold a proper conversation with others in college.’ As I had begun to tell her I would try, she suddenly interjected ‘But what if your English becomes so good you forget Hindi? Or forget about me and ask, Kavita…who Kavita?’ she said enacting her fears.
I told her very sincerely that I would not forget her, and then hugged her tightly before waving, and sitting inside the car. I stared out the window, still feeling her warm embrace as I wondered how different her life would have been had IIMPACT not entered her life. They would all, be working at home for the rest of their lives, as they told me themselves. I hope, she is able to remove the uncertainty from her thoughts herself with our help, and I intend to keep my promise and meet her again, write about her and remember her. As if she were forgettable at all.