“So, can we speak for sometime? Aap busy toh nahi hain?” I asked after a brief introduction and preface to my phone call. “It is my break time now. Off course, we can speak,” she from the other side.
Renu has been on my mind for quite sometime now. The story of her life is so common in our country that it is very easy to label it ‘ordinary’; if one wants to. Her determination to change her present, and mustering courage to stand up to her friends and family is commendable. The resolution to transform all the negativity into constructive art and smiles is what will always make her stand apart from the crowd.
Twenty-two-year-old Reenu comes from a weaker economic section and her childhood was spent with her grandmother. Being the first girl born to the family after many years, at a time when her village began experiencing intense winter and snow, Renu’s grandmother convinced her parents that she was bad luck for the family. As predictable, growing up was not very pleasant as she was subjected to harassment, discrimination and physical abuse on a regular basis.
Renu went to a government school nearby while her brother was enrolled in a better school. She wanted to become an engineer but was not allowed to pursue Science in STD XI and XII. Whatever resources or money the family had was prioritized for her brother. Typical of gender discriminatory practices, she had to think even before asking for another helping of food. She was beaten up regularly and had to live by the rules others made for her.
“If someone is offering you their knowledge, how can you not want to absorb it?” she says.
Currently, Renu is happily immersed in her passion of theater, training and counseling survivors of patriarchy and gender inequality. She is pursuing theater and nukkad naatak, where she highlights the problems in our society. She has also formed her own theater group. She aspires to join the National School of Drama while simultaneously working in her community.
“I am an educated and independent woman and for many years now, I have been living on my own. My passion takes me places and I am happy. Guess the family, too, is proud of their daughter,” she chuckles.