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Excerpt from the book- the rising star- a xaverian story

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I started to walk up to my love. My legs automatically started to drift towards her as if some eldritch energy was pushing me from the back. I reached the point where Anjana was sitting quietly.

I sat near her. She looked at me but didn’t respond. I also remained quiet.

So, how were your results, she asked me dolefully after a few seconds.

Me- I am third.

She- Really?

Me- From the bottom mam!

She laughed weirdly.

I was chatting with her after a long time, but I still had the magic to make her laugh. The spots on leopards remained intact.

Me- So, how were your results?

She- I failed.

Her mournful voice itched my heart.

Me- In which subject?

Anjana- Subsidiary, Political Science.

Me- Doesn’t matter dude. Even Politicians of our country have failed in their schools and colleges.

Anjana- So what? I am not a politician and I don’t even aspire to be one.

Me- But you do aspire to become an entrepreneur and you know, the one thing that binds every entrepreneur is that they all were weak at studies. Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and others. Even Bill Gates had said that “one piece of paper doesn’t define my future”.

Anjana- You should join Politics. You are an expert at manipulating people and making them believe in your stuff.

Me-Okay, forget it, it happens.

Anjana- I have failed Rahul. How can I forget it?

Me- Look failure is not always bad.

Anjana- Oh! So, now you have uncovered some new theorem.

Me- No, it’s an old philosophy. Look, failure makes us more successful being because it keeps us informed about our weaknesses and this recognition and acceptance of one’s weakness in one’s life makes you the hero of your story.

Anjana- This line, you have said it earlier to me. If I can recount, this line is from the fiction book you were writing.

Me- Yes, it is from the book but it is hundred percent true.

Anjana- Okay, leave that. Is your book complete?

How could it be, without you? Every single page, every single paragraph, every single chapter, every drop of ink and every single emotion of my story was incomplete without you, you were my story, how could I write anything when you are not with me, I wanted to say.

No, it will take time, was all I could say.

How is your M.B.A preparation going? I asked.

It’s good. But, I am not getting good scores in the mock test, she answered.

Don’t worry, you have enough time. I’m sure you will crack the C.A.T, I said.

So, you have found me today to joke upon? she laughed.

No, I’m serious, I said.

Anjana- Okay, I have to leave now. I need to go now.

Me-Where?

Anjana- To the Himalayas.

Then take a shawl, it will be chilled there, I joked.

I am going hostel Rahul, she tried hiding her smile.

Bye, she said and went off.

I wanted to stop her, I wanted to talk to her, I wanted to ask her for a second chance, I wanted to renew our friendship but my senses were veering randomly and the brain was not working properly. No, it was not Brain tumor, it was love. The farrago of emotions that had domineered my entire psychology.

After two minutes, I stood up. I jogged towards the college gate almost emulating the way in which the three protagonists run outside the college gate in the Bollywood movie “Mohabbatein”. She had almost crossed the gate, to be precise, she was standing at the borderline of college and Purulia Road.

Anjana, I said in a high decibel tone.

She listened and stopped and so did Roy Sir. He was going towards the canteen but my loud tone made him look at me. He looked at me, for a moment, he reminded me of Amitabh Bachchan from the movie Mohabbatein. But, at the moment, I was not scared of him, the only thing I was scared of was losing Anjana. Teachers run institutes, but love runs civilization. Teachers build the society, but love sustains the society.

She stood outside the gate, I reached to her.

Yes, what happened? she asked.

Me- I am sorry.

Anjana- But, why?

Me- For what I said you on my birthday. I didn’t mean all those things I said to you in the restaurant. I had gone insane. I had turned imbecile and foolish at that moment. I know, I said things to you that were noxious and unpardonable but I still apologize for all those vicious words I hurled at you. Please pardon me.

Anjana- But, I have already forgiven you for what you said on that day. I know you were emotionally charged at the moment and it happens. I too suffer from these syndromes.

Me- No, you will have to pardon me now only. I committed a grave mistake.

Anjana-Okay, I forgive you. Happy? Now, I am going, Bye.

Me-Wait Anjana, can’t we be friends again?

Anjana- Look, Rahul, you are a great guy. I cherish the moments I shared with you. But, that was history.

But, history repeats itself Anjana. Please, don’t behave like a quintessential television character. I said sorry to you. If you want, I will publicly apologize you at any place you want. I am sorry, sorry, sorry. I repeated the word sorry in the same manner as the honorable Prime Minister repeats “Mitron” in his speech. My voice was apologetic and remorseful.

She went silent. I held her hands, she didn’t resist. I took her towards Hasty-Tasty. My sorry had worked. I felt like worshiping the man who discovered this word. It is not merely a five-worded letter but it is a magic broom. A magic that can renew the relationships, a medicine that can heel the pain. Sorry is a blessing which should be used more often by the Homo-Sapiens. So many relations can be saved by this five-worded letter, “Sorry”.

We entered the Hasty Tasty restaurant. We occupied the same place in the corner.

Why veg restaurant? Anjana asked.

I know you visit Pahari Mandir on result days, I replied.

She laughed hard, I joined in.

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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
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        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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