Zoya lived in a small village in the territory of a mighty city. She was a very bright kid, always eager to help others. She understood the importance of education in a girl’s life and that is why she wanted to study. However, her parents and other elders of the village looked down upon this wish. They never acknowledged her eagerness for studying and every time she said something, they used to shut her up. According to the villagers, girls were born only for performing household chores and looking after others in the family and not to get educated like the boys. One day when Zoya’s family was having dinner, she decided to talk with her father for the last time. “Father, why don’t you allow me to study in the school? Alfaq and Sheikh are going to the schools regularly then why can’t I?”, she said in a soft tone while trying hard not to sound bitter. She was a grown up girl, almost going to turn eighteen in the next few days and that’s why she needed to know. “Because you can’t go to the school Zoya. We have already told you that girls in our village cannot study or even touch the books. Girls of your age only learn how to cook and look after the household chores. Haven’t you seen your elder sisters and other cousin sisters? Do they go to the school or study? Why don’t you understand Zoya, our world is very much different from the city life. We have some rules that are being followed since our ancestral generations. And if you cannot understand this simple fact, then Zoya, I will make sure that this will be imprinted on your mind”, saying this his father went out of the room, leaving behind the crying girl. Later that night she decided to take a walk along the small lake and so she went out without informing anyone. Wrapping the shawl around her, she sat in close vicinity of the shimmering water and stared at the ripples on it’s surface. The reflection of the bright moon on the water surface stirred something within her and the next moment she stood up with a determined face. “If they are not going to make me educated, then I will do that for myself on my own”, muttering to herself she scanned her surrounding and ran upto her room. Collecting her belongings in a small bag and a small amount of money, she left the village towards a new future. Upon reaching the city, she first went to her uncle’s house and decided to tell him everything. Her uncle was a rational minded person and he understood her condition. Zoya stayed in an NGO for ten years. She was accepted in one of the prestigious school because of the knowledge she already had. Completing her 12th standard, she went for further studies. Her results were excellent and that was the reason she was selected as the Village Development Officer. Her posting was made in the village from where she came and when the news reached her, she decided to do something for the girls in that village. She had seen her aunts, her mother and other girls and women suffering under the cruel and meaningless customs of the males. So she decided to put an end. With a renowned zeal and determination, she instructed her subordinates to construct a school only for girls. The elders of the village were quite angry with her and they were waiting for her to arrive at the village. “Zoya, we didn’t say anything when you ran away from this village. We thought to live this matter and spared your life. But what you are doing now is unforgivable. You are destroying the culture of our village. What will our children learn if you go on breaking the rules our ancestors had set for us?”, the head of the Panchayat said in a cold tone. Zoya smiled and turned around the group of women and girls standing amidst the crowd. Walking upto them, she said, “I know what I did years back was not correct in your eyes. But I did what I thought was correct. There is no wrong in getting educated. We still can look after our households and families. I am doing the same from past two years since the day I got married. Don’t think about the rules, they were made to subdue us. But this is 21st century and you all are free to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for you. Your decision can change the mindset of this village and your kids will grow up in a sweet world where this discrimination will not be there. Think about that. Your one decision can change the vision of these people”. The women looked at each other and then back at Zoya for approval. When she gave them a slight nod, the women smiled and held their head high. “We have decided to go with Zoya and study. And we have decided to earn our own living and not to be dependent on you all. It’s time to break the false customs and rituals which do not have any meaning”, saying this they walked upto their houses and returned with their bags. Zoya smiled at them and nodded at her guards to open the door of the cars. She was happy that her one decision changed the way of thinking of the people and because of her decision, the women of her village wouldn’t have to remain in fear any longer. MORAL: DECISION IS THE PRE-CURSOR FOR CHANGING YOUR MENTAL CONDITION

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