Suja is the first in family to go to college.
Most village girls go to school. But there is no pressure to excel in studies. School is meant to pass time till the parents find a nice boy for her. If a girl is not good at studies, it just means that she will be married off early. If she is smart enough to complete high school, she might be sent to the nearest college where she will take a degree in science or literature, which again will add to her glamour in the marriage market. But of course it won't affect the dowry amount.
It is very rare for a village girl to take a professional degree and get a job. But there are always exceptions everywhere….like Suja of our village…..
Suja is from a rich family. Most fertile fields of the village once belong to her great grandfather. Her grandfather was the first one in the village to own a car, the white Ambassador. Her father was the proud owner of the village's first television.
But none in the family has gone to college. It was her father's dream to send his daughter to college, to do some hi-fi professional course, get a high profile job and stand on her own feet . Suja's mother Latha has not reached even high school. She was a typical innocent boisterous village women whose only visits outside the village is to her parents' house in the nearby village. Her dream is to make her daughter a modern girl like the ones she had seen in bollywood movies.
Things were pretty normal till the high school final exams results were published. To Suja's and her parents surprise, she passed with a first class. Her father decided, after several expert suggestions from friends and relatives, that the future is in computers. There are plenty of job openings in the field. The decision was made that she would study professional software course in a reputed college in a metro city.
Then the trip to the college for the admission…….The white Ambassador was jam packed with Suja, her two friends and the parents, for the Six hour journey to the metro. The excitement peaked when they reached the college. Latha was like "Alice in wonderland". As they roamed around, she was imagining how she will explain all these to her neighbours. She imagined Suja among the chic girls who passed by wearing jeans and chatting in English.
The women of the neighbourhood were holding their breaths to hear exciting metro college news from Latha. They gathered by the fence - "Sujs has joined the course. It is an excellent course which is highly job oriented. Corporate giants are coming to their college to absorb the students even before they complete their course. All the kids are very smart, speaks only English, wears jeans. The college is big with huge buildings and the canteen is like a 5 star restaurant. Classes are taken in English…." Latha went on and on …., Her friends were nodding their head with excitement. Latha has changed a lot after the trip. Now she is the most popular women in their village. Her head held high with pride, she talks about the proposals from Doctors and Engineers that would come once her daughter graduates.
Even the normally quite father couldn't contain himself. He is now talking about corporate giants like Microsoft and IBM, in the tea shop and paddy fields. Their house became the first one in the village to subscribe an English newspaper, though it will lie on the living room table untouched till Latha takes it to the store room at the end of the day.
The elders of the village advised Suja's parents that they are doing a foolish thing by spending so much money on a daughter's education. Because after her studies, they have to again give dowry to marry her to a good family and her earnings will naturally go to the husband's family. Some envious neighbours were even worried that she might fall love with a boy from a different caste, causing disgrace to the family.
Finally the day arrived. Most of her relatives came to visit her with presents and pocket money. The day before leaving, she went to visit her grandparents for their blessings and to say goodbye. After the usual exchange of pleasantries, the grandmother took Suja into the pooja room and told her….”you should swear in the name of our goddess Lakshmi that you will keep away from boys' friendships.” And to make her point clear she even threatened that “if I ever hear that you are roaming around with boys, I will never ever let you in my house.”
The next day at dawn ,the white Ambassador was packed again.…with the excited girls and their equally excited parents…..and set off to the Metro….carrying in their hearts….lots and lots of dreams….expectations…about the bright future ahead…
Lets hope that one day Latha and her Husband would wait impatiently at an international airport to receive their successful daughter from US or UK…….