Debt to humanity

Daughters or sons, they must be educated well to do well in today's world.

‘I need some advance madam’ he said, carefully maneuvering the car through the terrible traffic maze. ‘Uumm, okay, how much?’ I asked him casually.

On hearing the amount he mentioned, my jaw dropped. I said ‘do you really think anybody will give that much as an advance to a driver?’ ‘No madam, probably not to a driver, but to a father who is in need, they may’, he said in a carefully measured expression, hoping that it would work. And, it did, it touched a sensitive spot of empathy.  But I said, ‘let us talk after reaching home.’ I was mentally all geared up to hear some sob story – sickness of children, treatment etc… but what I heard from him was completely the reverse side of my imagination, thankfully.

‘Madam, I want the advance for my daughters’ school fees and other expenditure. I put them in a better school. My daughters are doing very fine academically by God’s grace, and I want them to study very well. For their education, I don’t mind taking loans or working overtime – I feel it is a right investment which ensures a bright future for them.’

Though pleasantly surprised to hear that, I asked ‘but in your community you marry off your daughters very young, so how will you ensure that they continue with their studies?’
‘No madam, I will not commit such mistake. Daughters or sons, they must be educated well to do well in today’s world. And, my daughters are doing well in the school’ he reiterated and I could not miss the quiver in his voice, of pride and emotion welling up in his chest talking about his little girls.

Our country is under the grip of increasing female foeticide - we are trying our best at every level to curb such practices, discrimination and horrific killings.  Here I see a man who had risen above the socio-economic cultural factors that imbibe apathy and discrimination against girl-child. He is not afraid to stand up against norms within his community -- that he does not have sons, that it is sheer waste of money educating daughters.

He has made great plans for his daughters and I am sure he will realise them.
My thoughts ran to the 13 year old girl prodigy, Sushma Verma the daughter of a daily wage labourer, who is enrolled in Masters Programme at Lucknow University. It is the duty of people to lend a helping hand. No help is ‘small’ when it is for an infinite good with social consequences immeasurable. And, it is not any big sacrifice, it is simply an act of paying back a small part of the debt we owe to humanity.

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