I am Pooja, a schoolgirl from Rajasthan. This is my story of finding strength and power within myself.
From Scary Mornings and Dreadful Evenings
I study in class 9. At my age, not liking to study and making up excuses to not go to school or tuitions are common things. But being terrified to do them is something different altogether.
Every morning I wake up with a lump in my throat and a stab of fear in my heart. I love spending time with my friends at school, but I hate to go to school nonetheless. The thought of going there – of walking the 15-minutes distance from home to school and then back from school to home in the evening – makes me cringe with dread.
As soon as I hear their whispers and titters behind me, I feel like running as fast as I can. But my limbs seem to freeze with fear. I choke over the lump in my throat and my voice dries out. I cannot fathom how to fight them, fight this weakness in me.
The boys are older and stronger than me. They would follow me down to my house, passing obscene comments on the way. Some days they’d be so close to me that I can almost feel their filthy words on my shoulder. Yet, I do nothing.
I don’t know what to do. Where to go and seek help. Who can save me.
I fear something worse may happen someday. I am dead scared.
To a Life of Courage
The other day a teacher walked into our class and announced that there would be a special class for a month for girls in our school. It was called ‘self-defence’ class.
I had never heard of anything like that before. It was the first day and we were taken to the ground outside. There stood a girl, quite young, but older than us. Her name was Shivani Sisodia.
It’s been a month since then. The self-defence techniques that I have learnt from Shivani di have made me strong and confident.
Now I know what to do if and when boys surround me. I know how to fight them.
Every morning, I wake up with a smile in my face and courage in my heart.
About Shivani Sisodia
Shivani Sisodia was about 16 when one day a group of boys surrounded her on her way back home from school. When they tried to molest her and her friend, scared, Shivani started to scream at the top of her voice. Her quick and sudden action startled the boys and they fled.
Later at school, Shivani came to know that many of her classmates had had the same experience when they were out on the road alone. But owing to their dread of something worse and inability to fight men stronger and older than them, they kept mum.
That day Shivani decided to take it on her to become strong and brave; so much so that men or boys, younger or older, could never threaten her. She got admission to the Rajasthan Karatians School in Bharatpur to take self-defence lessons.
2 years from then, the 18-year-old Shivani, braver and stronger, set out to impart her knowledge to girls her age.
Together with her trainer, Mr. Onkar Pancholi, she conducted various self-defence campaigns across the schools and colleges in the city.
Picture courtesy – The New Indian Express
The Girl Who Inspires – At Home and Outside
Now, Shivani is studying BA and in the last 2 years, she was able to train over 1500 young girls in the Bharatpur city. Her endeavor continues to grow with more and more girls finding their strength in her techniques and coming out to fight every evil.
Having faced and fought issues like eve-teasing herself, Shivani knows the struggles and challenges of it. She says knowing how to fight it gives a girl the courage that she lacks otherwise. It is not about using weapons against men. In fact, we cannot carry them everywhere we go. Hence, girls need to know how to fight them with hands and legs, sometimes teeth and nails too.
Shivani teaches the girls such techniques. She empowers them with the knowledge of their inner strength.
The girl has managed to inspire her younger sisters as well. One of them is a Judo champion and the other is a black belt already. Shivani herself is a national level Judo player, having won a silver medal. Their parents feel proud to have 3 strong and inspiring daughters in the family.
Shivani Sisodia is a perfect epitome of a strong and empowered woman. One who doesn’t only revel in her victory but also lifts other women to stand beside her. More power to you, Shivani!
Keep reaching more heights and breaking more barriers!
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Smile more, the world is good! 🙂