Jul 13, 2005

Amidst a terrible desert......

"Kavi, Come fast and have your breakfast. It's already 8.15. You are getting late for your bus" shouted Uma on top of her voice.
Kavitha in her light green long skirt and a creamy white shirt, came rushing from her room. Today was her Social Science exam. She was glad that her 10th std exams are coming to an end this day. Uma, her mother placed a couple of idlis and sambar in a small plate and gave it to Kavi. "Done with your revision? Read each question carefully and then answer. Don't be in a hurry to finish the paper", Kavi got bored of Uma's usual advices.

Sundaramma , with half her concentration on her prayer books was listening keenly to what Uma and Kavi are talking. Aged 70 years, yet she had sharp senses. Having gulped her final sip of coffee, Kavi waved good-bye to Uma and rushed to the bus stand. Her school was about 5 kms from Velappatty, a small town in the southern part of Tamilnadu. Kavitha was born and brought up in this little town.

"My brother, Kannan has brought a good alliance for Kavitha. I'm going to talk to Ravi about this when he comes back from Coimbatore", stressed Sundaramma. Uma quietly went to the kitchen, without replying to her mother-in-law. Washing the dishes, she stared out of the window. Her garden was blooming with jasmine, chrysanthemum and balsam whose fragrance was engulfing the entire backyard. Flashes of the day when she stepped into the house as wife of Ravi came to her mind. She was hardly 14 years old then. A naive, soft-spoken girl who was unable to convince her father not to get her married at such an early stage of her life.

Ravi was a hardworker. He was looking after the sugar mill, inherited from his father. Though the financial status of the family was reasonable, Uma had always felt a sense of incompleteness. She had vowed to herself "My only daughter Kavitha will get all that she wants in life. I will not allow the society's superstitions and wrong beliefs towards women affect her. She will be educated just like a boy. There will not be any discrimination shown to her just because she is a woman". But things were not going as expected for Uma because of Sundaramma. She kept on insisting that a girl should get married at the age of 15 years and become a home maker. She was a firm believer that getting a degree and going to a job only pertains to men.

With jubilance on her face, Kavitha returned home. Her dad has come back from Coimbatore. "Kavi, my dear! How was your exams? I'm sure you would have performed well", expressed Ravi. Entered Sundaramma from her room, saying "Your uncle has got a good alliance for Kavitha. The bridegroom is having a provisions shop. The dowry they are expecting also seems to be quite ok. Somehow we should finalize this alliance" said Sundaramma with a broad smile. Kavitha was shocked. She couldn't understand what her grandmother was telling her father. She turned towards Uma. Uma was looking helpless but a stern determination radiated from her eyes.

End of episode 1........

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