Education and Independence: A Road to Reflection

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Bhawana Pokhrel


A gloomy morning, sky overcast with dark clouds, I hear a thin voice behind me “excuse me ma’am, I am sorry, I will not be able to take my exams this time”. 

Last week, a female student of mine asked me for an excuse at the landing of the stairs to the department of English of my college.  

When I asked for the reason, she just hung her head low, led her eye lids down and kept quiet. Her friend who was with her responded on her behalf, “she is getting married ma’am”. “Oh really! But getting married is a good thing and a matter of joy” I smiled to her. 

 
Hey, but why did you not choose to do it after exams or at least after your master’s degree’s over? Her answer was “aaphule bhane jasto kaha hunchha ra ma’am!” i.e. it does not turn out to be as you expect ma’am! 

Then, it came to light that it was not her choice but compulsion to do so. “Was it not your choice to get married? “ I added up. “No, ma’am…but…” 

Then, I tended taking my way telling her that the exam is an official matter, we will talk over it in the department and let her know.

My steps further weighed heavier. As I entered the department, a social fury gripped me which needed an immediate outburst. 

For, I cannot believe that at this time too, a female student over 20 in her age cannot make a decision, neither about her studies nor marriage. 

I poured forth my rage upon one of my male colleagues. I told him that I thought things have changed in our country over decades; he retorted “no, nothing has changed ma’am? What has changed, nothing, nothing at all!  People are talking only talking per se…” 

I heaved a sigh for it contradicted what I had seen, and done decades back. I have seen my sisters making their own decision; I had also done the same. 

It made me wonder, but what makes girls not be able to do it at present too? Otherwise, they look very modern and independent in matters like food and attire. 

To recall from experience, it is economic independence. In other words, it is economic dependence on their parents or elders that sets them bound to abide by their decisions. I do not mean to say that we should not depend on the decisions made by our elders or parents. 

However, when it comes to decisions like choosing a life partner an individual’s calculation about the right time and aptitude should (also) count. 

I pondered and slightly pitied them for they have learnt to dress up as their favourite celebrities; they have learnt to splurge on food, however have ignored to see the reality that lies behind the curtain, for their freedom. 

Or may be simply nobody shared the secret to their liberty yet. Or they simply remained unknown about the aspects of rights and responsibilities. 

Or maybe they have not inculcated the sense of consciousness yet or even it might have been naturalized in them to be dependent on their parents or families. 



But we cannot ignore it at present; for getting educated means also to realize one’s rights and responsibilities. It’s about weighing and being able to make rational choices about one’s life. 

 
Youngsters, it’s your time to think before it’s too late. Will you accept the dignity of labor, opt to put you knowledge into practice and be the free agent of your fate or not come out of the stereotypical shell and remain puppet to your parents for long? Existence ever offers you a choice! 

Therefore, for me it is something weird as I had started my first job at the age of thirteen. It was not out of need but out of a sense of freedom and self-responsibility.

Yes, self responsibility; our duty to ourselves to be economically independent. It’s a big mystery whether they did not learn to be responsible; or the society or family did not allow them to choose for they wanted to have the girls always in their grip. 

However, it’s also equally true that this issue is not applicable only to female students in Nepalese context. This realization made me cool down.

I turned to my colleague and said, “Yes, it’s economic dependence on their families that hinders them to make decisions for themselves; it obstruct them to choose”! 

It scared me when I imagined the decrepit dependence and suspension or submission of choice! Youngsters, it’s your time to think before it’s too late. Will you accept the dignity of labor, opt to put you knowledge into practice and be the free agent of your fate or not come out of the stereotypical shell and remain puppet to your parents for long? Existence ever offers you a choice! 


Dr. Bhawana Pokhrel is Asst. Professor of English at Prithvinarayan Campus [TU], Pokhara.