“Who reads the books that you write?” asked Asifa, age 15.
“We write our books for you, Asifa”
This is a story of how Asifa sees her universe – when she watches TV, reads books and listens to the radio. This is a story of when and where Asifa just may see our stories.
Asifa lives in a village on the edge of Jaipur, Rajasthan with her parents. She is the eldest of four sisters and a brother and her Aunt lives with her family too. Asifa’s family used to live in a mud hut but have recently built a ‘permanent’ house because they sold their land to a real estate developer. It’s not sure what her family will do next, for a living – for now, they have a new house.
Asifa wakes up everyday at 7 am in the morning and she has to sweep the house, feed the buffaloes and collect water from the tube well close to her house. She likes to listen to the radio or have the TV on in the background while she completes her chores.
Chores completed, Asifa goes to school.
Asifa says the favorite part of her day is when she goes to school. At school, she and her friends spend one hour teaching the younger children after which it’s time for Asifa to continue with her classes. She says, “I like going to school. I know that when I am there I can stop worrying about everything else and concentrate on my studies…”
Asifa talks about how there used to be much more rain in her village, there is a photograph in her album of her father and his brother in a green field. Now, there is less rain. And since her family has sold their land, she’s not sure how they will survive. Her father works as a machine operator in the city, but Asifa is not sure this will be sufficient. Plus, there are four sisters and only one brother, so there must be four dowries given. For now, Asifa is determined to go to school, but she wants to find a way to help her father.
Next year, Asifa will read Be! Books at school with her friends. She will read stories about young people, like herself, who, once they have finished school, have set up enterprises that solve the problems of waste, sanitation, water and energy for their villages and communities, and generate income and jobs at the same time.
Once Asifa gets back from school, in the afternoon, she likes to watch TV as she does her homework. She says, “Until my father comes home, the remote control is in my hands. After that, he decides. He has blocked all the English channels – because they show all kinds of things.” Be! Movies will be aired on Hindi channels. They will be aired in the afternoon to reach our target audience of young girls and boys all over India.
As the day draws to a close, Asifa likes to spend some time on her own. She takes her radio and goes up to the terrace of her house and the last thing she hears as she falls asleep under the stars could be an episode of Be! Radio.