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My Tale Of One Among Thousands As A Student In Kota

Our dreams take us to different places moving through different paths. To reach out to our dreams, we need to run in the rat race.

Image provided by the author.

 The boy was no exception, someone who wanted a taste of the fruit of success to get his dreams fulfilled. He came from a small town, an insignificant place on the world map of his high school ‘atlas’ represented merely by a dot for the world to see.  With his family’s support, he started a journey, a journey he believed would mould his life, leaving his emotions and everything behind, to convert his dreams into reality, a dream he grew up with, for which he gave up so much.

 He went to a place where the day started with the blazing sun, a place full of sculptures known for its rich heritage, famous for its marble and stone industry and strange eyes of those in the same race. He knew, he too had to blend in the crowd and tried to become one of the thousands but, he understood that he could not allow himself to be an eternal part of their mundane world. And knowing this, he started his ‘journey’ every day, waking up before the sun had peeked above the horizon, having his meal, then sitting on his table to study. Then as it was mid-afternoon, he got ready to be a part of the class after lunch.

While pedaling his way to class, he kept his head straight down to avoid the distractions of the world which comes as a trophy with the age of adolescence. Bustling traffic with screaming horns, the racers losing their focus and chattering and the heat of mid-summer Rajasthan sun in the sky as a pale red cherry made him sweat even more.

Image provided by the author.

Marking himself present for the class with the help of a self-service attendance machine, he made his way through crowded stairs to finally reach his class which started with a small prayer of “Itni shakti hume de na dataFour consecutive classes, with a few minutes break between each. His recess passed just getting his doubts cleared, which he had learned or just after the lecture was delivered, rushing to the teacher as soon as the classes got over. A pale brown hot samosa, the yummy patties, the chiura pulao, a cup of hot tea called on to his empty stomach, as a fawn calls on a hungry lion. A couple of hours after dusk, the classes got over and the boy headed to his hostel, fed his hungry lion’s stomach and after a talk with his loved ones, headed to bed. 

Each day passed in a similar manner, except Sundays. The classes were either off or there was a test every fourth week. Sunday became the day of city-exploration which had to its fame The Seven Wonders, City Mall, Chambal river, and the boy’s favourite, the Kota Barrage. On others, he passed his day in the balcony staring at the people down the road. Eventually, he realised that Sundays are surely not for him but still found himself waiting for a Sunday from each Monday morning.

Festivals came and went by unnoticed. But Diwali acted as the intermission in his life, giving him joy, which may have been short-lived but it was something he treasured. Many things changed, seasons came and went by all he got was loneliness moving up the path having a goal in his mind and emotions in his heart buried deep in a corner near the SA Node which got into motion with every single heartbeat.

Months passed, the same, the pressure reaching its peak with exams barely a month away and the only thing that made him stay amongst the thousands, to fight and strive for success, to become someone notable among those thousands by scoring good marks were his sister’s words, “Do your day to day work, homework and revisions at their time and do not think about the results”, or a statement by his soul brother, “Give your cent percent, what may the results be”, which helped him to survive.

Everyone passes through a phase with uncertainties. The boy had his share of the pie too. The place taught not only worldly knowledge printed in texts, on papers but also introduced him to the reality of the world. Introduced him not only to the pasta, the chola bhatura, paneer rice and other delicacies he got in the hostel mess which was like ‘heaven on earth’ for a foodie like him but also with the emotions embedded deep inside the cavern of his heart. The only thing that prevented him from diving deep into those emotions was going to that six hours class, studying in manner which was also an entertainment and for him was like watching a Bollywood blockbuster. 

Finally, the day came, to return, back to his native land, where he grew up, his home, to his family with the examination at his doorstep. It was time, time for him to leave this place, this land where last one year he had spent, had made it a place nothing near to be called home but which still was a place he had survived and would like to return to. Many students stayed there, to return after their exam.
He packed his belongings and began another journey, this time back to the railway station to the train to take him back, with tears in his eyes, memories of each place he had visited flashing in front of him, of the people, of the air and of the smell of the place, of the attachment he had grown to this place and many more made him nostalgic to the place. He wanted to thank his teachers, his hostel warden, friends, the people he had met and to the place which had taught him a lot about this life and had helped him stick to the very end.

The train left the platform but, the memories stayed with him and the place, this place remained etched in his heart and mind forever. The place never left him and neither did he.

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  1. keshav

    dude I feel you …

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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