THE DREAM IS TO FLY
There are hardly any aero planes sightings in her village, yet 10-year old Anki is determined to fly in the air as an air stewardess.
It is an unlikely career choice for a girl from a remote village and we are soon going to find out why.
Daughter of a recently martyred Indian soldier, Anki stays with her mother and two other siblings in Jharkhand. When we reach her home in the village, we see her helping her brother ride around in a cycle too big for him. It is typically fathers that teach their kids to ride the bike but as it appears, Anki has taken over vital roles in the family since her father was killed combating a terrorist attack two years ago. espite the fact that she now talks to his photo adorned with a garland instead of while sitting on his lap.
We enter their living room painted in pale salmon hue and her mother offers us water and tea. It is a hot day in May and the even the village roosters seem to be snoozing.
“Anki was eight when her father was martyred”, her mother says as she settles down in a plastic chair. “After that, she grew up before I could even realise“.
In the months succeeding her husband’s demise, she fell ill which forced the ten-year-old to take more responsibilities around the house, like cooking and minding her younger siblings. This coupled with the shock of her father’s death has changed Anki into a quieter and less carefree person than she used to be. She is, in fact, the poster child of eroded childhood owing to trauma.
Soon she comes into the living room to chat with us.
Do you like school? we ask her.
“Yes, I like going to school and playing with my best friend Sanjana. I also like to study English, and want to speak good English“, she says with her eyes beaming. She lets on that English will help her to fulfil her ambition of becoming an airhostess, a career option her father had proposed to her.
“Why an air hostess?”
“Because I want to fly.”
“Did your father want you to be an air hostess?”
No words escape her mouth, but tears escape her large eyes.
Her mother tells us that her father was very concerned about the children’s future, and one day he came across a photo of an airhostess in a magazine and showed it to Anki saying that as an air hostess she can touch the sky and see the clouds from up close. Since his visits were short he spoilt her silly with presents, outings and lots of hugs. Alas, he will never be returning to give the bear hugs she misses so much. But his words will always remain with her.
“My husband was concerned about the children’s education and though I am not well educated I am very attentive towards their education“, she further tells us. The family is strapped for money and they are just about making it through.
Anki is also learning to face fears without the safety net of her father. We learn that recently someone hurled a stone at their window at night that broke the windowpane; the shattered glass pieces cut her forehead and she had to get stitches. This episode has visibly shaken her up and she refuses to go anywhere alone.
It could well be that due to the absence of a male figure in the house the village sees them as easy target for bullying, but AnKI’s mother has advised her to face the world without fear. They have no other option.
It is true, Anki has a difficult path ahead of her where she will have to learn to accept challenges bravely, but one look at her and you see the fire in her eyes. And she will use this fire to take her to the stars!