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Bindi Bottoms
Anjali Awasthi Student, Village Umra, Raebareli

“I ride a bicycle 16 km a day. Till Class 10, my father would drop me to the nearby school. Then came the time for a harsh decision; to continue my studies or not. Higher education meant daily expenditure on a conveyance to the city. It was impossible for my parents to afford it. That is when I decided to cycle to the school.

It was not only about money, but also about the distance that a 16-year-old girl would have to cover alone. A teenage girl cycling such a long distance alone was unfathomable for the people in my village. The literacy rate for women is no more than 20% of the total female population in my village.

There were murmurs; questions, as expected, were raised on my capability and, of course, character. But I knew that it was all because these people were not aware of the power education brings. They can’t think beyond the boundaries of their societal structure and they didn’t approve of me going beyond these boundaries. But someone has to change the status quo.

Cycling for such long distances is not an easy affair. You know how village roads are. There is a four km barren stretch with very few people around. It scares me when it gets dark in winters, but the thought of a bleak future is far scarier. I just hope to score good marks in the 12th Boards and then go for higher studies in a bigger institution.

My mother is dependent on her in-laws for all her needs. She feels obliged and goes out of her way to be a good housewife and daughter in law. She never thinks about herself and that kills me. I want to make life better for her and for myself and if riding cycle can help me achieve that, then hell ya!”


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