“God crumbles up the old moon into stars,” they said in his village. Ask the girls of a village in India called Mijwan where Kaifi Azmi grew up and they will tell you it is true.
The old moon had dreamed for them. He had dreamed they would be independent little women when they married not pubescent girls. He had dreamed they would be informed mothers and not child-mother leading the child. The old moon had spawned a number of stars. Stars that glitter in the dreams the girls embroider into the muslin cloth on their laps. Glit-glit-glittery wrists and toes slip into their woven blossoms and sashay down runways in tinsel city Mumbai.
The girls of Mijwan watch on screen as Shabana Azmi, the daughter of the old moon, scatters their blossoms amongst celluloid butterflies. The girls of Mijwan are happy to be surrounded by stars. The light of the moon shines on their books. They go to school, and no longer are they in the dark.
The Mijwan welfare society formed by Kaifi Azmi to help young girls in Mijwan break the cycle of early marriage and subsequent young childbirth has helped the girls to fight for their right to education. Girls, who previously lacked a formal education are now offered a structured program in sewing and embroidery. INR 6000, roughly less than a hundred dollars, can see a girl child through school for an entire year.
Additionally 500-600 girls from neighboring villages too are benefitting from this program. Eight centers have opened in neighboring villages and cities : Lucknow Mirzapur Nizamabad Phadgudia Bhedia Manjurpatti Azangarh Kaptain Ganj.
“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living,” said Jonathan Foer echoing our thoughts.
You too can shine like the moon and scatter light into the lives of those who were served the wrong chromosome in the buffet of nature. Feast your soul on the poetry and become a star of some little girl’s life. “At any rate that is happiness to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys.