“You girls are brave.” “Three girls, alone?”
“How did your parents allow you?”
“Carry pepper spray.”
“Don’t wander alone at night.”
“Make sure you check in every two hours with us.”
“Aren’t you scared?”
For one month, the girls spent their time convincing their friends and family that their trip to North East India was no adventure-seeking, fate-trying attempt. But unfortunately, in India, a group of girls travelling for leisure slash pleasure was a “brave” endeavour. The comments kept floating at the back of her head as she buckled her seatbelt on the flight. “Was this a stupid decision?” She thought. Then shrugged the question away, just as she had done when her mother had spoken like the voice in her head. She was tired of answering their questions. “Where are you going? When will you come back? Who are you going with?” The list didn’t end. But her patience had sure come to an end. She shut her eyes and blocked them out. But they didn’t stop. She felt herself age as she thought of the society. How less they trusted their daughters, how much liberty they gave to their sons. The thoughts were buzzing in her head like an annoying fly swarming around a human ear; right from the time they landed to the time they reached destination 1—Bomdila amidst the beautiful hills of Arunachal Pradesh. The three girls stood in silence taking in the crisp mountain air. The thoughts faded from her mind as she inhaled the beauty that surrounded her. A tuft of a cloud descended on their window as they made their way to the restaurant to break their fast. Freshly made aloo parathas sat steaming on a plate as the dollop of butter on them meandered down the surface of the paratha. Grabbing their seats, they sat gazing at the settlement called Bomdila. And then they took the first bite of the paratha. It tasted like freedom.