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The girl was married at the age of nine.
Are you surprised? Wait, let me explain. It was the year of 1840. To marry the girl at this age was the norm, accepted norm I must say.
The girl never went to school. “Girls going to schools” was unheard of during the period. If educated women get spoiled, they become irresponsible, they become vulgar – was the common perspective. It was also feared that if a girl prefers schooling, education, she is sure to become a widow – because to be educated was against religion.
Hence the girl was trained only in cooking and other household chores by her mother.
After marriage the girl moved to her husband’s home in Pune. The society in those days strongly believed in caste system and according to the existing social structure, the family belonged to the lower strata of the society (shudra). However, the husband of this girl was going to school. He and his friends used to discuss how education could be spread across.
The young man taught his wife the art of reading against the wishes of his family. Not only she was able to read but also learnt to write and do simple mathematical calculations.
One evening the husband came, worried to the core. One of his teachers (a high caste man) was threatened of the dire consequences of helping spread of education and he had left the teaching job. The husband asked the wife whether she could teach in the school.
The statement made by her husband struck the girl hard. It was as if a storm had entered her life. Would it destroy everything around her – she thought and shivered.
“Go to the school? But women don’t move out of house.
Teaching in the school by a woman – unheard of, what would people say?
Will she be able to teach?
What will her father in law say? Won’t it be too much of rebellion for him?
Will the students accept her as a teacher? Are there any girl students in the school?”
The girl was frightened. She kept on pleading her husband to find another teacher. However, there was no other teacher available at that time.
The more the girl went into her shell, the more the husband was determined to implement the idea. He strongly believed that women are no less than men; women have the capacity to take on any task that they want.
The husband kept on convincing his wife, tried to build her courage.
Isn’t it a good work to spread education? If they are doing a good work, a service to the society, why should they worry? People will accept it – maybe slowly. Yes, she can teach – hasn’t he taught her enough to take on this task? If she rejects the task, the work they (he and his friends) have been doing for years will all be destroyed. Sure, there are no women teachers around. But does it mean that she should not start?
The girl kept on thinking. The husband kept on convincing.
The girl realized her mission. She decided to carry on the work the husband expected her to do – not because she was compelled, but she knew it was her mission as well.
The night after storm was full of light, full of courage, full of determination, full of conviction, full of vision, full of compassion.
The young girl Savitribai joined inspiring work of her husband Jyotiba. Both Savitribai and Jyotiba, together with their colleagues created monumental work and created history. They were one of the greatest Change Makers.