In a small town of Gujarat, people were very excited as their favorite festival “Uttarayan” was approaching. The markets were filled varieties of kites. Everywhere there was a festive mood. The women of the households had already started preparing the delicacies like undhiyun, chikki, and other farsan.
But amidst all these festivities, Geeta was sitting quietly. Every year she used to look forward to this festival as she wanted to beat all the boys in the kite flying competition. She was very good at it. Her father didn’t like her challenging the boys. But her mother would somehow let her get away with it.
This year she dreaded this festival. She was getting engaged. Jan 14th was considered to be a good day for her engagement. She would be appearing for her 10th board exam in March. Her would be in-laws were “generous” enough to “allow” her to take the exam. After that within 2 months she would be married off. Yes, she was only 15 but in her community this was the right age for a girl to get married.
Geeta didn’t want to leave her studies; she didn’t want to leave her parents, her siblings, her friends. She knew once she would get married she would lose her independence. She would have to be in a saree all day, do household chores, and within a year or 2 bear a child. This is the life that her mother has been living, her older cousin sisters have been living. They don’t have any voice. They are only supposed to serve.
Uttarayan day was at its full fervor. Geeta’s home was bustling with people. Her mother was busy preparing delicacies for Geeta’s would be in-laws. Everyone was excited and happy except Geeta. Her mother came to her room to deck her up in jewelry and a new saree. Mustering all the courage, Geeta said, “Maa, I don’t want to marry now. I want to study. Please convey this to Papa. I want to be free for at least few more years.” Geeta’s mother saw her daughter’s pleading eyes. She wanted to hug her little daughter and never let her go. She didn’t want her life to be like hers. But she knew she was helpless. Like all the other women in her community, she had no voice.
She had to ignore Geeta’s plea. She decked her up and took her for “display” in front of everyone. Geeta had become numb. She didn’t know how to react. Like a robot, she went through the rituals of the engagement. Her feelings were numbed and she knew they would remain numb the rest of her life.
Someone in the adjoining terrace shouted, “Kaipo che.” She saw from the window that a kite was lifelessly going down. She sighed! The Kite fell on the ground. She said, ‘Wish it had strong wings!’.”