Within few hours, darkness descend over samirpur, the dusty town, located somewhat in the central part of India. Riya’s in her room, lying on her bed; scrolling her phone. Just then, the door opens and here enters Riya’s mother
“Riya beta, your aunt’s going back by the 8:00p.m train. You grandma’s going. Will you go. ”
“Yes come Riya. Madhu will be very happy. It’s been years you had gone to our house”, says Riya’s aunt seconding Riya’s mom.
Riya’s aunt lives in the nearby village of hashimpur. More than a village, it seems justified to be called a semi urban center. In her childhood, it has been a place of fascination for Riya. Her favourite holiday destination. But, her childhood is a thing of the past as is her fascination of traveling to relatives’ house. She still loves travelling but not anymore to those frequented and usual places:hasimpur, bhajour(her maternal uncle’s home), Rajoli(one of her uncle’s house) and bikramgarh. She wanted to travel to new places, but all her recent memory of travel are limited to these four places. The last time she remember travelling elsewhere was when she was in the VIIth standard to Bhopal.
Riya answered in negative, without even bothering to look back. Irritated by her reaction, her mother said, “I don’t know what you love being in this room all the day.. Learn to move out, travel, breathe the fresh air, like we used to do in our childhood. If you don’t travel now, when will you? Within another five- ten years you would be married and then you will regret these lost chances. ”
“5-10 years. Do you plan to keep her unmarried for so long? Remember, We were married in our early 20s”, said Riya’s aunt.
” And, how much do you think I am aged, dear aunt? 60? “, says Riya in an irritated tone.
“It’s not about age. In our tradition, a girl’s marriage is fixed after passing HS. ”
Just as Riya took to reply, she noticed peculiar expressions on her mother’s face, signalling her not to proceed. Riya proceeded anyway.
“Tradition,? What tradition? I didn’t make it not did anyone ask me before making it? Why the hell should I care”
“Enough of it, Riya. Is this how you talk to
elders. “, says Riya’s mom
” What wrong did I say. Why will I get married at this tender age because of some nonsense traditions”, says Riya.
“No one’s getting you married. She’s just making the point. The moral is this is the time to enjoy. Why don’t you want to go with her and enjoy? “, said Riya’s mom.
” Enjoying? What’s enjoyable in travelling tobher home”
“I love travelling, but to places you don’t know, whose people you never met, a different culture, different geography, etc. That’s what excite me. I have been to aunt’s house a number of times”
“Ok don’t go. “, says Riya’s mom, nonchalantly moving out. Her aunt has already left(her room).
” Mom, what about us travelling to a new place. Now, that grandma would be away, we can travel”
“Travel? Where? “, asks her mother.
” It can be anywhere. What about coorg Or darjeeling “, says Riya, with an excited face.
Her mother didn’t seems to be interested however. She just moved on.
Within moments, Riya too got back to what she was doing.