(Patna) “We have been working in this plant nursery for last four years.”


(New Delhi) “I am a kathak dancer and it is more than a hobby for me. I started my training from Class 3 in school but took a break after some years for board exams and college studies. When some of the regular jobs didn’t work out for me, I thought it was a good time to start my kathak training again. I enjoy giving stage performances. I still get stage fright but I just love it.”
(New Delhi) “I got married in 2004 and for the next four years, I faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. I don’t want to talk about the abuses because later all the bad memories rush back and I feel very disturbed. I was still trying to compromise and trying to lead a normal life but after one particular incident, I felt enough was enough and that I couldn’t continue any longer. I moved to Delhi with my one and a half years old son and then I filed a domestic violence case through an NGO and got a job at another women’s rights organisation.
But the case went on for 4-5 years with no end in sight, and it was increasingly becoming difficult to take leave from my office to attend court dates. After I filed my case, the court ordered my case to be transfered and during this process my court file was lost. The court clerks took around 7-8 months to locate my file and put before the judge. The case kept getting prolonged for years for various reasons. There seemed to be no relief and on top of it, my husband started calling all my family members and relatives and saying he wanted a reconciliation and that he would try to improve himself. My husband’s calls troubled everyone and I couldn’t let my family suffer because of me and so I withdrew the case. Right now I am still with my husband. The situation didn’t change much but it’s better. 

I lived on my own for over 4 years. I had a job. I raised my kid as a single parent. I got school admission for my son on my own in a city like Delhi. I did everything on my own and it gave me a lot of confidence. Sometimes, I feel I took a wrong decision, but I try to be happy; let’s see what the future has for me.”

(Patna) “I am a teacher and have been teaching for the last 33 years. I always tell my students that their parents are working hard to build their future, and so they should work hard too. If they understand their parents feelings, only then they will progress in life.When students come back to meet me, it feels good. I remember once I wanted to visit a temple but it was very crowded and I couldn’t go inside. Then I saw a girl in a police uniform walk up to me, and said let me take you inside. She was a former student. 

I have eight sisters. As kids we used to study together and help each other out. Someone was good at Science while someone else in Maths. Now, one sister is a lecturer, another is a home maker, one is a doctor, and five of us are teachers. We were in a joint family. I feel joint family is a good practice and that’s how I was able to do my job as there was always someone in the family to look after my child.”

(Nepura, Bihar) “She is my daughter. She doesn’t go to school because the school asks for Rs. 500 per month. How are we going to manage that much money? We hardly earn Rs. 200 per month. Rice is Rs. 25 per kg, potatoes are for Rs. 12 per kg, goitha is for Rs. 20.”

(Nepura) “I am making thread out of cocoon. I have been working for several years and people often come and take my picture. Sometimes people buy the cloth that we make here. This thread is used to make tassar silk.”

This is in context of the JNU incident of February to March 2016 where sedition charges were levied against the students of JNU:

(New Delhi) “Look at current situation in the country. We are a country of over 100 crores; we have more than 22 languages, people come from different kinds of background. We have every religion in the world in this country. Everybody dresses differently. In a country like this when somebody dissents from what the state thinks, you can’t call that person anti-national. I have a right to dissent; that’s the basis of democracy. The minute I say something that you do not like, you can criticize me, but you cannot imprison me, and you can’t call me anti-national. 
Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any questioning in the Universities? That is the time to experiment and question all kinds of thoughts. We are living in a very troubled time. You can’t impose prohibition on a thought process or a way of living or on what you eat.
It is not only disappointing but dangerous that the Lawyers, Police and Politicians who are sworn to uphold the Constitution don’t understand what rule of law means. Also, everyone is entitled to a fair trial, and is innocent until proven guilty, but sometimes it just turns into a lynch mob justice. 

There was a protest by a very powerful community in one of the states where they burned buses, homes, and allegedly raped women. They killed an army officer but we don’t call them anti-national. We have to understand the word sedition and usage of word anti-national. It has political connotations and we don’t understand this in our country.”

(New Delhi) “I am someone who has grown up being discriminated against for my skin colour and weight. It is typically related to the fact that you are a girl; nobody asks men these questions. The criteria when judging a man is that he should be doing well for himself in his career. But for a girl, it is not enough. You have to be a lot of other things as well. 

It started with the family because a number of my relatives used to say, “Oh, you are so cute and you have beautiful features but you are dark” or “How can you be so nice looking and yet be dark.” As if someone dark-skinned can’t be nice looking. At a younger age even your friends can  also be insensitive. I have heard things like “Your mother and sister don’t even look like you; are you sure you are related to them?” or “How can they be so nice looking and how can you be so ugly”.

I was in a co-ed boarding school right from the beginning. You know how teenage boys are. They can get very mean. I was left out of a lot of activities because I was not nice looking. I have grown up with the idea that you have to be nice looking, otherwise people are going to be rude and mean to you. 

I think that’s an insecurity that hardly ever goes away. So whenever something on a personal front goes wrong, then you start questioning everything all over again. Being at a “marriageable  age”, when certain things don’t work out, then you keep thinking if this is why it has not worked out. You start doing all the permutations and combinations in your head. It all adds up and snowballs in your head.

The same people really compliment me and say all kinds of things to flatter me but it doesn’t matter now. The whole point is that we shouldn’t judge someone by their colour or weight; it doesn’t define them as a person.”