If Airplanes are No Big Deal for Girls, Why Would Two Wheelers Be?
Woman has always been in the shadows, working backstage and thereby giving way to the saying, Behind every successful man is a woman. This has been going on for centuries altogether with women being content with whatever they were given or however they were treated. But now the twentieth century woman has risen, tall and tough with nothing to hinder her from coming into limelight. Todays woman has forfeited the four walls of her home and is taking her share of the well deserved success. Her story is full of a struggle from survival to success.
Kashmiri girls have been long known for beauty and today they have started being acknowledged for brains too. Their achievement lists have been myriad but a nagging question remained; would women ever enjoy the same liberty as boys? Liberation sure had come to girls but a person becomes truly independent when he/ she has his own means to travel thereby making his capabilities truly his/ her very own. Seeing boys zooming past on the roads on motorbikes being able to go, wherever they wanted without having to waste hours in local busses, was never a pleasing site for girls unable to afford personal cars.
Most families here in Kashmir can meet the expense of a single car and that is in possession of the head of the family, (a male member of course). Since it is far easier to afford a two wheeler, the guys in the family could easily own a bike along with the car. Thus the keys to their bikes were handed over as soon as their legs were long enough to reach the road from their seats and the female member was offered a few coins to catch the first bus to school or college. The girl accepted her fate as she knew there was no solution; she after all was Kori Mohnui!
For all the above reasons I was very much surprised, pleasantly though, when I noticed a girl riding a Scooty. She had defied the unsaid rules of the society and I was exhilarated. I almost wanted to whoop and whistle but then that would have been rude! Within weeks more and more young women started joining the Scooty League. It is cheerful to behold young girls on colorful bikes determined to do something in life. The first person to ride a Scooty here deserves applause for it is the torch bearer who endures most criticism. For facing the society with something novel, she deserves felicitation. She was the pioneer of nothing less than a revolution.
Riding your own vehicle might not look like a big deal, but in a society where people would gape at girls driving cars just a few years back, riding a bike sure is an achievement! To be able to go wherever you want, visit many places in one day and to assist the family by running small errands is a privilege that the ladies never had. Even though a small number of girls drove their own cars, majority of the female folk still had to bank on the inefficient transport system to get their jobs done. For school girls going for multiple tuitions spread across the city, life was a misery. But now with the economical transport system at their service, things are different! Scooties have a mileage of about 55 km per hour which makes riding it quite affordable for all.
Scooty has given young women confidence, renewed their enthusiasm for life and definitely improved their efficiency at work. It sure is a fine way to compete with boys on bikes even though the speedometer makings are different! Scooty is very light as it lacks gear system thus making it very easy and comfortable to ride. But a word of caution needs to be delivered. Two wheelers are far more dangerous to the rider than a four wheeler, so safety measures like a proper helmet should be in place. It is however very pleasing to see most women pay heed to the traffic rules and regulations and have turned out to be better and responsible drivers. With vigilance and care, girls can make their journey to success a truly pleasant one
A girl on a scooty to me is an epitome of empowerment and freedom. This seemingly small bike is symbolic of the change that has taken place in our land; yes Kashmir is changing, changing for the better! Today a woman is not only the reason behind a mans success but is herself a model of accomplishment. She has every right to be self dependent and free, after all, Why should boys have all the fun?
Author is a scholar at SKUAST -Kashmir
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