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Desire and Destiny: The Journey of an IIT Aspirant

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By Anshu Bala:

TWO THREE TWO ZERO FIVE FOUR ZERO SIX” I shut my eyes tightly; pressing my palm hard against my sister’s who sat beside me, entering my roll number through the keyboard. For a moment, the world seemed to have paused… Yes, my world had actually paused for that moment. I could hear nothing other than my heart beating at its greatest pace. I had not felt so, never ever before. I could see the entire of my past two years in front of me and the outcome of it was just about to be declared. The stillness of the scenario was interrupted when my sister shook me by my hand, pointing her finger towards the monitor’s screen and left the room without a word. Well, there’s always a difference between what we want and what we actually get. So often are we led into situations which we had never thought of being in. Who knew I would be prone to one such the very next moment! I glanced at the screen which read “NITIKA MISHRA, AIR: 37140”. I stood there still, staring at the screen of monitor. “Is it all over? Can’t it just be some mistake?” I asked myself and checked it again but it read the same, as if determined not to change!

It was a fine Sunday morning; one like those of late spring, when the year seems like a beautiful young maiden ornamented with a large number of bright colours throughout; and the dainty sheen of grass and leaves is turning to a deeper green.
It was an important day for me. Everyone in the family was busy, making preparations for the great enterprise I was heading towards. An evening before, my results of the entrance test of ‘Bansal Classes’ were out and I was being sent to Kota, which then seemed to be a great place to my parents and their friends, as they believed it would lead me to one of the most renowned institutions of the nation, the IITs.

Well, to myself, I was only an innocent school girl; I knew hardly anything about Kota and barely realized the importance of the IITs. My world was different. I was happy and content with what I had and who I was. I was confident and ‘impossible’ was something which I thought was not meant to be understood by me. Failures – I didn’t know what they were. I’d seen my older cousins getting tense about their career sometimes, but then those are “grown up people”, I used to think. So, at this point, I could not understand the need for sending me so far just for a stupid ‘IIT’. Was it that important?

I didn’t want to go. Clearing up the things scattered in my room, I made a small place for myself in a corner and sat there, gazing at everyone. While I was pondering over, I felt a warm touch on my back which suddenly derailed my train of thought. My dad was standing behind me. “Papa, do I really have to go?” I asked, expecting to hear a ‘no’ even then. At times, even the most affectionate and important people in our lives do not seem to care and this is when we feel as if the ‘coming into this world alone and going out of this world alone’ fact comes into effect! He sat beside me, wiped off my tears and held me close to his heart. He didn’t say anything but I could see it in his eyes. I accepted it. I left for Kota that evening with my dad.

After two days of travel, I’d arrived at a place my destiny had brought me to, overpowering my desires. I breathed in the air, inhaling the dust particles that came with it. The place was terribly hot, the heat being radiated by the warm earth. Well, this was going to be my dwelling place for the next two years and I had to get accustomed to all that it gave me, whether I liked it or not.

Gradually, I realized that I was not at a loss as I thought. It was a place where people came with dreams and left the place fulfilling them. It could change lives and that faith was what it was built upon. Above all, I understood the relevance of engineers, the value of IITians. The place taught me how it felt living alone, catering to the vital needs of life and facing the world, all on my own. I learnt how to implement the values that my parents had been telling me about all this while, choosing between the right and the wrong, as there was no one to check me or to guide me… All I was with was my own self. It had a great environment for studies and the students there were no less than me in calibre; so many of them being better than me. I started loving the place for what it was and realized that the place, itself had so much for me to learn from — some many things that only experience could teach me.

Two years passed and after having appeared for a series of examinations, along with the Board Examinations of Class Twelve, the time had come for the results to be declared. The day arrived as any other day and passed by me as swiftly, bringing me no good news. I was not selected in the IIT-JEE. That drove a wave of terror in me. But I still had faith. With a half-broken heart, I was awaiting the results of AIEEE to be declared.

Finally, that day arrived too. I kept gazing at the screen. My last ray of hope was also gone. It was not easy to undergo the happenings inside myself. I was losing myself. For an instant, everything seemed to have come to an end. Tears seemed to flow without a pause. I was shattered. I lay down on my bed covering my face. What would I answer to my dad? What kind of example was I going to put forward to my younger siblings? And at the end of all, what did I get out of this, or did I really lose everything? I kept lying there with several unanswered questions occupying my mind. Was it that my destiny had overruled my wishes again?

I heard footsteps approaching my room. I got up all of a sudden, recomposing myself, wiping off my tears. It was my mom. She sat beside me, holding my hand. Looking at her, I burst into tears again. “I failed, mamma. I failed…” I cried out. Those words were really painful, as they pierced through my own ears. I lay down on her lap and fell asleep.

That day I learnt another thing, ‘Life has its own way for everything. We do not get things as per our wish but as per our need. And maybe life is at its best in deciding that!’ I had seen how phases change, and how life fluctuates between Success and Failure. A new chapter of my life was going to begin. In the war between desires and destiny, one would win and the other would lose, but none could take away what I’d learnt in the process. At the end, it was not a failure, but a new phase of challenges I was to come across and yes, I was seasoned enough to face them. It would be foolish to say that I was no more afraid of failures, but this experience surely taught me that they were as important a part of life as Success was.

Don’t see what others do, because you are different.
Don’t follow others’ path, but carve your own.
Don’t just follow them, but learn to lead them.
Don’t lose yourself in them; let them find themselves in you.
Don’t just let it off, but play your part well.
Let the world know your existence.
Let the world cherish your dreams.
Let the world honour your name.
Let the world owe you what you deserve.”

You must be to comment.
  1. ash

    t was very nice hearing about a fellow student. Got some inspiration!! 🙂

  2. AJ

    Hustle ,loyalty and respect !

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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