20, Kiran Path. A quiet residential area in the heart of Jaipur city. Outside – a sunny Saturday morning, someone selling oranges on the street, clattering of the ancient coal iron in the corner of the street …. Inside – bated breaths, thudding of heart beats, furious scratching of pen on paper, a page turns, a chair squeaks… It is 28th January 2017, a writeshop is in progress and now it is time to share.
“Hum taiyar hain” (We are ready), they say, and 8 boys come forward gingerly, holding out their hand written notes. These boys have spent all morning in a writeshop writing about what motivates them and why. One by one they read out hesitantly each of their pieces … there are standing ovations after each recitation, thumping of backs and loud cheering. They are surprised by the compliments; they find it hard to believe that the pieces they recite are what they have written. “I didn’t know I could write,” one boy quietly says. Writing is therapeutic it is said; a trusted colleague has advised that everyone is capable of writing – all it needs is persistence. This is the second piece that these boys have written today and this time each of their stories manages to arrest the listener with its honest, intense and raw emotions.
The boys have declared an all-out war on #Patriarchy.
But who are they? Harish, Naresh, Rajkumar, Sudhir, Kunal, Pradhuman, Rahul and Amit are members of Martha Farrell Foundation and PRIA’s Jaipur chapter of Kadam Badhate Chalo.
Naresh has been a silent spectator all his life, never having had the courage to speak in front of a class and certainly never in front of a crowd. December 25th 2016 will forever be etched in his mind. KBC facilitators from PRIA and Martha Farrell Foundation were conducting an orientation in Maharaja College. So moved was he by the discussions on gender inequalities that he stood up and spoke. “No one laughed at me,” he says. “My fear of public speaking vanished just like that.”
“I learnt that change begins with self. I felt it in my heart that I can speak and it is important to speak if I want to make a difference.” – Naresh Bishnoi, 17 years
Rajkumar, a serious young man, was in contrast looking for a platform where he could talk fearlessly without being judged for what he was saying, his opinions on menstruation and pollution practices linked to it. “When I talk to my friends about gender equality and justice they tell me to not to give gyan.”
“I want to change the world. In KBC I have found a space where I can speak and without fear of being ridiculed. I feel in my heart that this is the platform through which I can bring this change.” – Rajkumar Verma, 17 years
An intense speaker and a budding poet, Kunal avoided speaking in public as he was always concerned that his voice was not as deep as other boys his age. He wished he could be more perfect.
“I have learnt that I am perfect as I am. The power is not in the quality of my voice, but in the content of what I speak. I have developed my confidence and I am ready to take up a leadership role within KBC in the fight to end violence against women and girls.” – Kunal Rajpurohit, 17 years
A quiet Sudhir surprises everyone with his story. He has been part of a group comprising of 20 other young boys and girls who have adopted the role of a live helpline for girls in distress. He has fearlessly chased eve teasers and perpetrators of violence down the main roads of the city. One such call for help backfired on him. He left the group and retreated into himself.
“I had lost all faith in girls. KBC has made me regain it. I have regrouped with my old friends and we are all going to join KBC.” – Sudhir Yadav, 17 years
Harish is a budding scientist who fearlessly argued against deep rooted mythical beliefs on gender with senior officials from the law and order department at a workshop conducted jointly by PRIA, Martha Farrell Foundation and Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority on 27th January 2017.
“I wanted to do community service. I was looking for a platform to contribute to society and KBC provides me with the best platform for that. I also want to apply for the civil services examination and I think being part of KBC will help me prepare for it.” – Harish Krishnan, 17 years
Rahul Sharma attended the same workshop on 27th January. He went home after the workshop and spoke about it with his friends. Amit Sharma, a 2nd year student of Bhawani Niketan College, listened, fascinated by Rahul’s stories and asked to be included in the next event. Amit joined the writeshop and is now the newest member of the group.
Rahul and Pradhumna attended the sports camp organised by ProSport Development, PRIA and Martha Farrell Foundation in Pareekh College.
“We liked the concept of KBC and all that it stands for and wanted to be part of it. It’s an important agenda.” – Rahul Sharma and Pradhumna Sharma
KBC is the story of how young boys can influence others in their fraternity. The story doesn’t end here, but is rather the beginning of a journey of self-discovery. With a writer’s bug safely embedded in their hearts, the boys left a note for us. It had on it a collection of words that they felt best described their experience:
Mentality Changed Emotional Expression Creativity Learnt a new skill Learnt something new about myself Learnt how to put my thoughts on paper Increased self-confidence All fear has disappeared Awareness Consciousness Respect