“We first met when we were in the 12th grade, studying at Wilson college. At that point, I was seeing someone else so I would just meet him as a friend when everyone was hanging out together. After 12th he moved to Bangalore to study, and we would end up meeting only once a year but somehow we were always in each others lives. When he moved back, all of our friends had started working but I used to have my evenings free and his internship was very relaxed— so we started meeting alone. By this time we were both single, but the idea of liking him hadn’t even crossed my mind because I’m Hindu and he’s Muslim and it would never work.
I don’t even know how it happened, but we would go for long walks, he would hold my hand and it felt right. We would talk everyday for hours but not one of us had mentioned liking each other. In 2008 his grandfather passed away, so for one week he would barely message and obviously couldn’t meet. That’s when I realised I had feelings for him because I missed him more than I would miss any friend. A few weeks later I asked him what was going on between us, he said – ‘I don’t know what it is, but I think I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’
“When I told her I had feelings for her, I also explained that we would have to go through a lot to convince our families and that there would be times when we would have to fight to make this happen. She would also have to wait for 4 years until I completed my MBA and was settled enough to ask for her hand — she agreed with everything.
4 years later, I decided to tell my parents about her and it was a flat out no. They said that they’ve found a Muslim girl for me to marry. I heard whatever they had to say and said, ‘If I don’t marry her, I won’t marry anyone else because I cannot ruin a 3rd persons life…I won’t ever be able to love anyone else.’ They said that she will marry someone else and won’t wait for me – I said I’m willing to take that chance. This went on for 6 months until they reluctantly said yes.
Meanwhile I went and met her mother who was also very upset with our decision. I told her everything about our relationship, about taking care of her my entire life. I also told her that she wouldn’t have to convert to Islam— she could still follow her own religion. After a few more meetings, her parents were convinced but all of her relatives wanted to meet me as well. I went alone to meet her mama and extended family.
Once our parents reluctantly agreed, we decided to get engaged and believe it or not, our parents met for the first time at the engagement — we were expecting a disaster but it was all very cordial.
A few months later, my father passed away. It was a very trying time and my mother saw that she was such a big support to me and the rest of my family. She began to see what I had seen in her all along. We got married a few months later, respecting both our religions. After so many years, we finally made it happen. It was a difficult process, but easy because from day one I knew that it was her or nobody else.
Today, our families are respecting of our different religions — her family celebrates Eid with us, and our family celebrates all their festivals with them. The love between us managed to break more boundaries than force ever could…and that has been our biggest victory.”
As the clock ticks and the day starts ending, the only thing on the mind of every woman is to rush home. From literally sprinting to informing of their location every minute to the family members, women do it all. All this for just one reason – it’s not safe to be outside after the sun sets. If by chance there is even a slight delay, the family also starts fretting.
Why is being outside after a certain time considered to be unsafe? Well, the answer can be found in the question itself. It is because, as it starts getting darker, lesser women step out and hence roads are perceived to be unsafe.
Volvo beautifully addressed this via a video, set at the background of a popular old Hindi song, showing three women and sending out a simple message that more the women on the streets, more safer it will become. This video struck a chord among a lot of people, especially women who could identify with it.
Volvo, in a bid to encourage women to step out and reclaim their city spaces, organised a night walk. Mumbai Night Walk which was organised by Volvo under the #MakeYourCitySafe initiative in association with CrossBow Miles invited all the women to participate in a great number.
The mood for the symbolic march, which was held on May 19, was set up right at the beginning of event with some soul-stirring music and talks by various artists who champion the cause of equal rights for women.
In the final leg of the movement, which was the midnight walk itself was joined by Srishti Bakshi, founder and campaign champion of CrossBow Miles, who also holds a unique feat of walking 3,800 km from Kanyakumari to Srinagar in 230 days for raising awareness for women empowerment through financial and digital literacy. She is of a strong opinion that small steps lead to bigger changes. Problems like misogyny and gender stereotyping cannot change overnight and only sustained efforts towards completely removing them can bring change.
Bakshi joined the enthusiastic crowd of women marchers who walked from High Street Phoenix to Mahalaxmi Racecourse. The event had performances by spoken word poet Simar Singh, singer Abhilasha Sinha, singer-songwriter Aarifah Rebello, rapper Sofia Ashraf and award-winning singer Rekha Bharadwaj. The event saw some really acclaimed personalities like Sushmita Sen and Dia Mirza in attendance too.
This is not the first time that such a night march is being organised by CrossBow Miles. Earlier too, public night walks were organised in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Gwalior and New Delhi which were attended by 200-15,000 people in each city.
The Logical Indian congratulates Volvo on the grand success of their initiative #MakeYourCitySafe. We also hope that women leave their apprehension behind and unitedly reclaim their city spaces.