We first saw Rakhi sitting on the steps of the small local temple while her mother combed her long hair. After hearing that we would be taking a picture, she rushed to change out of her old night dress into her best salwaar kameez.
She used to stay in a hostel in Durgapur as her parents felt that it would be better for her education if she didn’t have to commute long distances. She is the same age as me (15), yet she had to live away from her parents.
However she felt sick and returned home. She recently joined a local school. She does some of the house work before setting out in the morning.
Her face lit up when we asked her what her favorite class was. “Bengali,” she said with a proud smile. But like most 15 year olds I know, she hasn’t decided what she wants to do after high school. “I’m not sure yet,” she shrugged.
“Whatever she decides, I will support her. If she wants to go to college, she can. If she wants to get married, she can. I won’t stand in her way.” said Sital Malakar, her father. He is a driver but also a part time broker.
Rakhi has one older sister in class 12 and two younger brothers. The parents don’t know how they will be able to send all of them to college but will try their best.