19th Sep, 2017
Kritika is a bold and cheerful girl. As soon as we entered her house, she made us some coffee. She seemed very mature and had great interest in the affairs of the house. While we were settling down, she spread the mat for us, folded the clothes, and collected water in a huge drum. Her nose stud highlighted her boldness. She wore a blue skirt and a beige colored shirt. Her mother was sitting beside the threshold with her hands resting on her face as if in deep thought and contemplation. The house was clean, although cramped. The black stone flooring kept it cool. As the field officer Akkamma Devi and I settled down, Kritika’s father appeared inside the guest room and gave us a halfhearted smile. He did not expect guests at home at that time of the day. He seemed to be a shy and somber person who left the house saying he needed to step out to visit a patient. Kritika’s father is a local doctor who runs a small clinic as well as visits patients in their homes. Kritika finally decided to sit down and chat with us. She spoke about the activities undertaken by Sphoorthi and how she enjoys being a part of the project. She is an active participant in all the activities and plays an important role in gathering more and more of her friends into the program.
She recollects the incident when a year and a half ago, her father forcefully tried to marry her off to his sister’s son, when she was barely 14 years old. There was a huge brawl in the house when she refused to agree for the marriage that ended in her being physically and mentally abused. She was locked up in the house and denied food. Kritika’s mother, on the other hand was very supportive of her and she stood up for her. It was around that time that Kritika was introduced to Sphoorthi. She had lost all hopes of studying further but stood strong against her father’s decision. A strong resolve and the courage gained from the many letters written by Sphoorthi, gave Kritika the strength to take a decision on her own. Amidst the spiteful curfew, she managed to sneak out of the house and report the incident to the Police. The Police escorted Kritika and warned her father against marrying her away against her will. This incident left her father’s family shocked and they withdrew the proposal.
Kritika owes her courage to the many sessions conducted at the behest of the Sphoorthi Project and cannot thank enough, the Sphoorthi team, in supporting her through this unfortunate incident in her life. Kritika’s father now realizes that he had erred in deciding on her marriage and future. Kritika wants to become a doctor and wants to set things right in her village. She believes that with all the wonderful things that were taught to the RMAGs as part of the Sphoorthi Project she and her friends in the RMAG cluster can face any challenges in life.
By Sheena Lakshmi