N. Parthasarathi, SJ - Chennai Province
“Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]
Motivation to stand
aside young people based on the experience of accompaniment given by All India Catholic University Federation.
It was one fine
evening, as I was getting ready to proceed to our Loyola College ground for
games, as was my wont. My cell phone rang. On picking it up, I distinctly heard
the caller’s request: “Father! Could you please spare a while to listen to me?”
That was a call from a damsel in distress. Sensing immediately the urgency of
that call, I replied “Feel free, sister”. My Jesuit availability necessitated
my rearranging the schedule for that evening. “Playing that evening” was pushed
from the first place.
Noticing my response,
she introduces herself in a low voice. She belongs to a Dalit (the most
marginalized community in our country) family. Her parents are daily-wage
earners (working, but not-owning any piece of agricultural land). She was the
best student in the school. When she expressed to her parents her wish to
proceed with her collegiate studies, she could not elicit any joyful response
from them. Her parents were aware of some ‘firsts’ to her credit. She is the
first girl from her village to complete the school studies. And another ‘first’
in her must have caused some anxiety in her parents. She is the first of the
three girls in her family. With much hesitation they said “Yes” to her studies.
Her simple unspoken response that evening was that she would make her parents
happy by securing the college-topper position. That, definitely, would be an
inspiration for her two younger sisters.
She attends her college activities travelling
daily by bus that is heavily crowded; and runs with limited frequency. This
travel causes her several woes: almost every day, the men of her village
belonging to the so-called upper caste abuse her mentally. Also, they don’t
hesitate to harm her physically too. For fear that her dream of college-life
would be brought to an end; she has not mentioned to her parents this cruel
crime. She suffers a lot and there is no one to listen to her cry. After
sharing this to me, I could feel the hope radiating from her heart and the joy
of relief from pain.