Changing the Status-Quo

[I wrote this story almost four years ago! I am posting the story as it was, four years ago. Please forgive me for any errors that might have crept in. Hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.]

Sheetal was running- she was running as fast as her legs could carry, in fact, she could not particularize anything as she ran; everything was on the verge of being blurry or had become blurry. Why was Sheetal running? Behind her were ten to fifteen people armed up to the teeth with sticks, cutlass, knives and even pistols. Sheetal felt her heart, lungs, legs, brain were functioning up to their full capacity and even then she could not beat those people so desperately behind her. She clutched tightly in her hands a memory stick that was more important than her life at this moment- it contained information which could revolutionize everything and glorify everything she had worked so hard to achieve.

Sheetal is from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan which was in a state of political and social turmoil. The agenda revolving the turmoil was women empowerment and education. The whole state was known to be the most male chauvinist state among all the Indian states. Sheetal worked against the status-quo and look at her state today! Running, as fast as she could from potential death bringers but she was not afraid for herself, a little maybe but what she feared most was the work which she did for the last five years, secretly arranging meetings, teaching women to read, rebel, and rise against all injustice meted out to them. In fact, Sheetal became a key figure often seen teaching things in hiding. Local village headmen and others soon found out about her and so began a crusade against her powered by men fearing of being overcome, and in this jihad, Sheetal asked for no body’s help because she knew she had conjured the ghost directly to herself.

Arya was a news reporter for the ‘Dainik Jagran’ and she was contacted by Sheetal herself telling that she could get the biggest news of the west till date if Sheetal gave the memory stick and she promised to give her the stick for she thought it was of sheer importance that the news got leaked. Sheetal knew in her heart this would fuel thousands of girls all over her country in the fight against male chauvinism. But for her plans to succeed Arya must do exactly as Sheetal told her to do. Arya was a practical girl from the cities and though she had some of her own instances of male chauvinism in the cities, she had till now ignored them.

But Sheetal’s story had completely revolutionized her mind for the past eight months. Arya and Sheetal have been meeting secretly and planning for this day as they knew this day was inevitable for both of them and they were prepared to carry out their roles perfectly. But the question arises, if they both had met earlier why could not Sheetal give the stick to Arya back then? Sheetal’s desktop had been completely toyed and broken down by Ramlal (the village chieftain) and his people, and it took both time and money for Sheetal again to put together the contents of the memory stick which she so dearly clutched in her hand, as if her life depended on it.

Sheetal knew she had to create a diversion to make sure the stick reaches Arya intact- her only devout devotee Rupa had been entrusted with this (we are talking about an age where mobiles were not so easily available), so everything had been planned by Rupa, Sheetal, and Arya. Right now it was Rupa whom Ramlal’s gang was following; Sheetal was on the verge of reaching Arya’s place. As soon as the stick got into the right hands, Sheetal without further delay made a dash to save Rupa. “You know I too can give my life for this mission of ours, Sheetal-di”, Rupa had told Sheetal the other day; Sheetal smiled and scolded Rupa, “Aree, pagli, do not forget this is my mission, I devised this and I will die for it, besides you have Monu and Chotu to take care of, I would be in your debt if you took the initial risk while I transfer the stick safely to Arya-di”, saying this both of them hugged each other, knowing that moments like this would never return.

Sheetal and Rupa were wearing burkas and they again crisscrossed each other in the sabji-mandi (marketplace) and in those last moments Sheetal did not say anything to Rupa, their eyes met and Sheetal through her eyes pleaded Rupa to continue their war against the so overly proud and chauvinist male species till the last drop of her blood and breath. The next day ‘Dainik Jagran’ posted a front page news article against the badly battered, bruised and lifeless body of Sheetal.

© Biswadeep

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