My Leadership Journey - Tahsina

Tahsina is member of YRC Roshni
Youth facilitator (2014)
Read her earlier post
I am Tahsina Bano, 25 years old. I belong to a Muslim family from Rajabazar. In my locality, most of the boys are into small businesses like making envelopes, paper plates and chappals. The women are mostly housewives, and they keep themselves busy with small jobs like stitching, binding books, and making boxes. Here most girls get an education. But they study not to get a job or build their career. They are given an education so that they can get married into a good household.
At home I have my Ammi, Abbu, three brothers, one sister-in-law and my sister. Two of my brothers and my elder sister are already married.
My childhood
I remember that one day from my childhood very well. I was just 3 years old at that time. Ammi had held my fingers and taken me to school. I had seen those school gates for the first time in my life, and written a test for the very first time. I had written alif on the slate, holding the chalk in my tiny fingers. Seeing this, the teacher praised me a lot and admitted me in that school. At that time, I had no idea that there was a difference between Urdu-medium and English-medium. When I saw my elder sister going to school, I used to feel very good and I too would wish to put on a frock and a tie like her, and go to school. The first time I was got ready for school, I was made to put on a salwar-kameez, jumper and dupatta. I did not like it at all!

When I was 6 years old, people used to say that my Ammi had brought me in from a garbage bin. This made me feel very angry. They used to say this all the time. People at home did not pay me much importance. Perhaps all this was because I liked staying out of home, or because when I was in other people’s homes, I lost my temper very fast, or perhaps because I was a little dark-complexioned! No one wanted to be friends with me or play with me.
First encountering Domestic Violence
When I reached the age of 8 years, one day I returned home from play to find my Ammi lying senseless on the ground, and my siblings sitting all around her, crying. Seeing this, I too started crying and calling out to Ammmi, but she was not responding at all! She finally got up after half an hour. When I wanted to know what had happened, the others told me that Abbu had beaten her after using an electric shock on her. What I was not getting was why Abbu would even beat her?! Then, as I started growing up, and started witnessing the fights between my parents, I gradually started to understand the reason why. Whenever Ammi would ask Abbu where he was off to, or how his work was going, he would say, “You don’t need to think about these things. Your work is to manage home and the kids, and my work lies outside of home. Whatever I do there is my business.” Then I used to think that Ammi was creating conflict at home by asking these useless questions. But now I do not think that way.

Even in these hard times, Ammi really wanted us boys and girls to get an education. During our Madhyamik examination, she used to worry a lot! When I saw how well my Ammi managed our home, how she tried her best to keep the family strongly together despite getting so many beatings, I used to feel very good. When my grandmother praised her, saying that perhaps there could be no better daughter-in-law than her, then I used to think that I too would become a good housewife like her!

At the time when I was about to get admitted to class XI, I had completed the process of admission myself. Only one guardian’s signature was pending, for which I called my Abbu. He took an hour and a half hours to reach the school, because he had just got up after a nap. Due that delay, my roll number became separate from that of my friends. If my Ammi were able to sign in his place, perhaps this would not have happened.

My elder sister was just 18 years old and had completed her HS when my parents got her married. Then Ammi started thinking about getting me married as well. Because I was somewhat dark-complexioned, Ammi had a lot of worries. Meanwhile, a very good match came along, but because of I was dark-skinned, those people asked for a dowry of Rs5,00,000. When I got to know of this, I told my Ammi that I would not go for this marriage, and that I wanted to study further. She told me that she would support my education for as long as I wanted to study.

One day before my HS results were due, Abbu asked me which college I wanted to go to. This made me feel very good, but the good intentions were limited to only asking that question. He didn’t help me at all at any point of the admission process, like collecting forms, or taking me to the college. After my HS results came out, I got myself admitted to the college nearest my home, because at that time I was not able to go out of home so much.
A milestone: TF, Roshni and a new dream
At college, I met Shahina. She told me that simply studying was not enough, it was important to learn some skills alongside. She also asked me what the goal of my life was. At that time, my goal was clear – I needed to become a good housewife! Then she told me that women had progressed so much, and why was I still stuck in that old place! She told me about an organization where a fellowship training was scheduled to happen. She also motivated me to take this training.

This training taught us a lot, including making us aware of our own strengths and weaknesses and what we really liked to do. We also became aware of certain human rights which increased our confidence. We gathered together some girls from our neighbourhood and created a group with them, girls whose dream was to become a good housewife, as mine had been. These girls experienced an increase in self-confidence and dreamt of a new goal for themselves with the help of this group.

In this way, a space was created for us where we could share anything and everything. Through our Roshni group, I got the opportunity to share my thoughts as well as listen to what the others wanted to say. And yes, being a part of the group, I started feeling that no, I didn’t just want to be a good housewife. Through the group, I dreamt of a new life goal for myself – to become a social worker. Before this, I never even knew that I too had value, I too had the right to take decisions, and the right to present my thoughts in front of others.

It was through our group that we the group members presented an event on 8th March 2009, Women’s Day. We presented a drama on the subject of one of the challenges our area faced – on the long-standing tradition in our neighbourhood to take dowry during marriage. I had invited both my parents to the event, and afterwards, my Ammi started supporting me all the more. More girls started becoming a part of our group. That day we got such a lot of good feedback that I realized that we girls can achieve a lot if we only want to.

Gradually I came to understand the meaning of domestic violence. It was that which used to happen between my Abbu and Ammi – those daily quarrels and beatings. At the time I also used to blame Ammi, but now I no longer think like that. Now I believe that both girls and boys can do all kinds of things if they want to. And the responsibility of managing the home and children is not only the woman’s, it is the responsibility of both the man and the woman. So I always tell my elder brother to participate in taking care of his child, and he does it too.
My new identity
In my neighbourhood, I have grown an identity. I am now capable of taking my own decisions. My elder sister is a housewife despite studying in an English-medium school. I too am leading a married life, but I feel the same freedom as before. I can come and go easily wherever I please. And now I am able to interact easily with others, and have many friends. I also invest my time with an organization where I work according to the skills I possess. From this, I earn a stipend which allows me to support my own expenses. Some people tell me that as a married woman, I should be spending most of my time with my husband. I tell those people that I am still a young person, and so I ought to invest most of my time in bringing about positive change in my neighbourhood.
An Achievement
In the meantime, I was selected through an interview as a volunteer in Nehru Yuva Kendra. NYK works to develop youth clubs and youth leadership. My confidence and leadership skills have improved a little more by working here. I didn’t waste the stipend I got from there. A time came when my savings amounted to Rs 20,000. I used that money to buy one katha of land [720 sq.ft]. None of my brothers have been able to do something like this. What they couldn’t do, being boys, I achieved despite being a girl. This thought makes me happy.
Goal for the group
In the next two years, I want to make my group into a CBO [Community Based Organisation], and through this, bring about more positive changes in our community. This will help in empowering our group members, most of who are girls.
My Message
Both girls and boys can do anything they want to. In whatever medium their education might have have been, let them become capable rather than successful.

Mera Naya Pehchaan

Mere baarey mein
Mai Tahsina Bano, mera umar 25 saal hai. Mai ek muslim parivaar se hun. Mera elaka Rajabazar hai jahan pe zyadatar ladke chote chote business karte hai jaise envelope banana, paper plate banana aur chappal taiyaar karna. Yahan ki aurten zyadatar housewife hai aur khud ko chote chote kaam mein busy rakhti hai jaise silai karna, kitab banana aur board se box taiyar karna. Zyadatar ladkiyan padhayi karte hai. Koi galat faimy me mat rahiyega quin ke woh log koi naukri pane ke liye ya career banana ke liye nahi padhti hai balke achi ghar mey shaadi ho is liye padhte hai.
Mere ghar mein meri ammi, abbu, 3 bhai, ek bhabi aur ek bahan rahti hai. 2 bhai aur ek badi bahan ki shaadi ho gaya hai.
Mere bachpan
Mujhe mere bachpan ka woh ek din bahut yaad hai jab mera umr sirf 3 saal tha. Ammi ne mujhe apna ungli pakad ke school le gayi thi. Zindagi mein pehli baar school ka gate dekha tha aur test diya tha. Apne choti si ungli se slate pe pencil (chalk?) se alif likha tha. Yeh dekh kar school ki teacher ne mujhe bahut sabashi di aur mujhe us school mein admission le liya. Mujhe to us waqt pata hi nahi tha ke Urdu medium aur English medium mein fark hai. Jab mai apni badi bahan ko school jaate dekti thi tab mujhe bahut achcha lagta tha aur mujhe lagta tha ke mai bhi roz isi tarah frock aur gale mein tie laga kar school jaungi. Mujhe jab pahli baar school jane ke liye taiyaar kiya ja raha tha tab mujhe salwar, jampar aur dupatta pehnaya gaya. Tab mujhe bilkul achcha nahi laga!
Jab mera umar 6 saal ka tha tab mujhe sab kehte the ke mujhe meri ammi ne kude ka tab se uthaakar layi thi. tab mujhe bahut gussa ata tha. Har waqt sab mujhe aisa hi kehte the, mujhe ghar mein koi utna importance nahi dete the. Shayad yeh sab isliye ke mai zyaada tar ghar ke bahar rahna pasand karti ti, ya phir dusro ke ghar mein bohut jaldi hi sab ke upar gussa hojati thi aur chilla chilla ke baat karti thi, ya phir mein thodi kaali thi! Muj se koi bhi dosti karna pasand nahi karte the, koi mere saat khelne nahi chahate the.
Pehli baar DV ke saath pehchaan
Jab may 8 saal kit hui tab ek din khel ke baad jab ghar mein aayi to dekhti hum ke ammi zameen mein behosh padi huyi hai aur sab bhai behan ammi ke as paas baithe huye ro rahe hai. Yeh dekh kar hum bhi rone lage aur ammi bolte rahe par ammi uth hi nahi rahi thi. Phir aadhe ghante baad woh uthi. Jab maine pucha ke ammi ko kya hua hai sab kehne lage abbu ne electric shock dekar ammi ko maara tha. Par mujhe samajh mein nahi aa raha tha ke ammi ko abbu ne kyun maara tha?! Phir jab mein ahiste ahiste badi hote gayi aur jab jab ammi abbu ka jagda hota tab tab mujhe samajh mein aane laga ke kyun jhagda hota hai. Ammi jab bhi abbu se puchti thi ke aap kahan jaa rahan hai ya kaam kaaj kaisa chal raha hai, tab abbu bolte the “Yeh sab tumhe sochne ki zaroorat nahi hai. Tumhara kaam hai ghar aur bachchon ko sambhalna aur hamara kaam hai bahar ka. Bahar me kuch bhi kare tumhe usse kya?” Tab mujhe lagta tha ke sach me to ammi bekaar bekaar ki baat kar ke ghar mey jhagra karti hai. Par abi mai yeh nahi manti.
In kathin paristitiyon mein bhi ammi hum sab bhai behenon ko bahut padana chahati thi. Jab humara madhyamik exam hota to woh bahut tension karti thi!
Jab mai ammi ko dekhti ke woh kitni achche se apna ghar ko sambhal kar rakti hai, kitna maar khane ke baad bhi woh us ghar ko baandh kar rakhne ki koshish karti hai, tab mujhe bahut achcha lagta tha. Meri dadi jab meri ammi ki tariff karti thi ke iske jaisi shayed koi bahu na hogi tab mujhe lagta tha ke mai bhi aami ke jaise ek achchi housewife banungi!
Jab mai 10 class ke baad HS ka admission karane gayi tab maine pura admission khud hi kara liya tha par sirf ek guardian ka signature chahiye tha jis ke liye maine abbu ko call kiya. Par abbu ka ane mei dedh ghanta lag gaya tha kyun ke woh us waqt soh kar uthe the, jis ke karan mera roll no mere doston se alag hogaya tha. Is jagah ammi agar sign kar pati toh shayed aisa nahi hota.
Isi dauran jab meri badi bahan ka umr sirf 18 saal tha, HS complete karna ke baad ammi abbu ne unka shaadi kara diye. Ab mere baare mey ammi soch ne lagi. Kyun ke mai dekhne mey thoda kaali thi is liye ammi ko bahut fikar tha. Isi duaran ek bahut achcha rista bhi aa gaya tha, par dekhne me kaali hone ke karan woh log 5 lakh rupay ka maang karne lage. Jab mujhe pata chala to maine ammi ko keh diya ke mujhe yeh shaadi nahi karni hai aur main abhi padhna chahati hun. Tab mujhe meri ammi ne bhi kaha tum jitna door panda chahati ho hum tumhe padayenge.
HS ka result nikalne se ek din pehle mere abbu ne mujhse pucha ke tum kaun sa college mey padna chahti ho. tab mujhe bahut achcha laga lekin yeh sirf puchne tak hi mahdud tha. Admission ke liye kuch madad nahi kiya jaise form collect karna saat college le jana. Result nikal ne ke baad maine apne elake ke sabse kareebi college me admission liya kyun ki mai us waqt bahar nahi nikal pati thi (?).
Ek milestone: TF, Roshni aur ek naya sapna
College mein padne ke dauran meri mulakaat Shahina se hui. Usne mujhe kaha ke sirf padaai karne se kuch nahi hoga, kuch skills bhi sikhna zaroori hai aur yeh bhi pucha ke tumhara life ka goal kya hai. Us waqt mere liye life goal bahut clear tha ke achchi housewife banna tha!
Tab usne mujhe bataya ke aaj ladkiyan kitna aage bad gayi hain aur tum abhi bhi wahin ho! Usne mujhe ek organization ke baare me bhi bataya jahan ek fellowship training hone wala tha aur usne mujhe training lene ke liye motivate kiya. Is training ke zariye hum bahut kuch sikh paye, khud ke taqat aur kamjori ke baare me aur mujhe sab se zyada kya karne achcha lagta hai, yeh sab ke bare mein jaan paye. Kuch manavadhikaar ke baare me bhi jaan paye jisse humara confidence level badh gaya. Aur humare pada ke kuch aise ladkiyon ko lekar ek group taiyar kiye jinka life goal ek achchi housewife banna hi tha. Woh ladkiyan is group ke zariye apna confidence badaa paa rahi thi aur ek naya life goal taiyaar kar pa rahi thi.
Hum logon ke liye ek jagah taiyaar huwa jahan pe hum sab kuch sharing kar paate. Mujhe apne group ke saat sab kuch share karne ka aur un logon ka sharing sunne ka mauqa humare is Roshni group ke zariye mil gaya. Aur haan, group me rahte rahte mujhe ab ye lagne laga ke mujhe ab housewife nahi banna hai. Group ke zariya maine ek naya life goal taiyaar kiya social worker banne ka. Mera bhi koi value hai, mera bhi decision lene ka haq hai, mera bhi khud ka soch sab ke saamne rakhne ka haq hai, yeh sab mujhe to pata hi nahi tha.
Humara group ke zariye hi hum aur group members ne 8 March 2009 ko women’s day ke din ek event kiya tha. Apne elake ka ek challenge ke upar hum logo ne ek drama kiya; woh challenge dahej lekar shaadi karne ka hamere ilaake ka riwaaj ko lekar tha. Maine apni ammi abbu ko event ke liye bulayi thi. Us event ke baad humari ammi hume aur zyada support karne lagi. Hamare group mey aur bhi ladkiyaan shaamil hone lagi. Us din hum logo ko itna achcha feedback mila ke mujhe ye mehsoos hua ke hum ladkiyaan agar chahe toh bahut kuch kar sakte hai.
Ahiste ahiste mujhe yeh bhi pata chala ke domestic violence kya hota hai – woh hi hota hai jo mere abbu mere ammi ke saat karte the -- roz roz jhagra maar peet. Us waqt mai bhi ammi ko dosh deti thi par ab mai aisa nahi sochti hun. Ab mera manna hai ke ladka ladki dono hi agar chahe toh har kaam kar sakte hai. Aur ghar aur bachche ko sambhal ne ki zimmedaari sift aurton ka nahi hai, ye zimmedari dono ka hai. Is liye mai apne bade bhai ko hamesha bolti hun ke aap bhi apne bache ko sambhaliye aur wo sambhalte bhi hai.
Mera naya pehchaan
Humare elake mein mera ek pehchaan bangaya hai. Apna decision ab mai khud hi le sakti hun. Meri aapi English medium se padne ke bawajud ek housewife hai, mai bhi ek shaadi shuda zindagi gujaar rahi hun lekin aaj bhi mai utna hi azaad mehsus karti hun, jitna ke shaadi se phele. Bahut hi asani se kahin bhi mai aa ja sakti hun. Aur ab mai asaani se sab ke saat miljul sakti hun, aur mere bahut sare dost bhi hai. Ek organization me mai apni skill ke mutabiq kuch time bhi deti hun jahan se mujhe kuch stipend bhi milta hai aur mai apna kharch khud chala leti hun. Mujhe kuch log kahte hai ke tumhara ab shadi ho gaya hai, tum ab aurat ho gayi ho, ab tumhe apna zyada time apna husband ke saath bitaana chahiye. Par mai un logon ko yahi kehti hun ke mai abhi bhi youth hun aur mujhe zyada tar time apne elake mein positive change lane ke liye dena chahiye.
Kuchh karke dikhana
Isi dauraan Nehru Yuva Kendra me interview ke zariye ek volunteer ke hisaab se mera selection hua. Wahan pe youth club ke development aur youth leadership ko lekar kaam hota tha. Wahan pe kaam karte karte mere confidence level aur leadership qualities thoda aur bad gaya hai. Wahan se mujhe jo stipend milta tha, mai usse phaltu kharch nahi karti thi. aur ek time mere paas 20,000 rupai ikattha ho gaya jisse main eek katha zamin liya. Mere koi bhi bhai ne aisa nahi kar paye hain. Is liye mujhe bahut kushi hoti hai ke jo ladke hokar weh kar nahi sake maine kar dikhaya.
Group ke liye sapney
Aane wale do saal mein humare group ko CBO banana chahate hai aur is ke zariye community mein kuch positive change lana chahate hai jisse humare group members , jo zyada tar ladkiya hai, empowered ho paaye.
Mera message
Ladka aur ladki agar chahe toh har kaam kar sakte hai. Chahe wo koi bhi medium se padhe, kamyaab nahi kabil bane.