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Beyond Segregations

I have struggled all my life, not because I find it difficult to make ends meet but because I am an ‘elite’. I find the remark upsetting, so much so that I have started questioning my existence.

Although I was born a third daughter to my parents in a culture that mourns the birth of a girl, I have got the best of everything. People say I was born lucky, but what they don’t understand is I have worked hard to prove my worth for all I have got. Today, as I work to help me make a living, and still claim that I am working for the greater good of the society in my own little ways, I can feel skepticism around me. Sometime back, I had applied to work for an international service organization and I was never called. There could have been many reasons for my rejection-my education, my experience, my vision, etc, but a little birdie told me that they don't employ 'agrawals' in their organization since we are supposed to be from business backgrounds (which of course I am not), and an international job is the last thing we need.

Isn’t it George Orwell who said that “All (wo)men are born equal, but some are born more equal.” Sadly, people think I belong to the latter category, but can I change it? I am who I am and I don’t think need to hide behind just because of my upbringing. I can do nothing about my background, this is something I am not responsible for, but what I am responsible for is to decide where I go and what I do with what I have. I don’t think I need to have a guilty conscience because I am better off, more educated, more intelligent, more powerful, or more privileged, but I need to have one if I do not use my privileges to make someone else’s life worth living, if I don’t put my power to some meaningful existence, and if I don’t use my senses to empathize with the plight of others. I believe that everybody needs an opportunity; the rich or the poor, the privileged or the underprivileged, the educated or the uneducated, because each of us is important and we all deserve an opportunity to identify with ourselves beyond those segregation.

I believe that revolution comes from understanding, and the realization, and I have just enough not to be blinded by the realities of life. I have involved myself in activities that satisfy my soul. I started off with volunteering for old age home, organizing camps, and distributing supplies to the needy while I was in college. After graduation, a time when my fellow mates were preparing fancy applications for fancier universities abroad, I, despite my gold medals, chose to stay back in my country. Not that me staying back would change people’s lives, but I thought I could contribute to my nation in my own little ways. Evidently, I got job offers but they didn’t really interest me, and I started volunteering for a youth forum. I did it for the sheer joy of it, and the satisfaction it gave me. With time and realization, I joined the rat-race of people who want to make big in this world, but I have not kept myself away from my passion. I am the General Secretary of a local youth club and undertake a plethora of activities ranging from literacy programs to awareness camps, health interventions, micro-credit and women empowerment programs.

I am also working for an organization that works for the rehabilitation and reintegration of women who have been forced into commercial sex work. Reporting about the realities that women face in my part of the world is another important work that I am undertaking. I have been advocating for the rights of women and girls through my writing in World Pulse, and VENT. I work with lot of young people to transform them into social citizens through Sattya, a media arts collective. Through all these involvements, I have learnt important lessons in life that I will carry and pass on. Now, I think it is time for me to expand my wings on a global level, and WP Community Board Member seems to be just right.

I want WP to be a space where we rise beyond any segregation and work together to improve the lives of women, all of them, each of them because everybody has the right to be heard. The issues of an upper middle class woman who goes to work in high-heels are as important as the issues of an agriculture labor working in the fields all day and yet not being recognized for it. I want to explore the lives of all of them and bring it into the mainstream, into our boardroom.

Comments

JaniceW's picture

Your voice counts too

Khushbu,
This was an unexpected post from you as I had no knowledge of your background. You have been such a strong advocate for women in Nepal and whatever your background is, you have proved yourself again and again that you can empathize with other women in Nepal (and around the world) and if anything, has made you an even more devoted advocate on their behalf.

You commitment is inspiring and I hope that you will see more doors opening for you as the world realizes how passionate, dedicated and visionary you are. Hardik subhakamana,
Janice

Khushbu's picture

I hope so

Dear Janice

Thank you for understanding my perspective. By elite, I am not trying to say that I actually am. It is how i have been tagged to be. Yes, I am well-off in normal Nepali standards, but if you compare me with the higher middle class, i am everything but an elite..The point here is that I am an Agrawal. Agrawals are actually of Indian origin and they are supposed to be rich and privileged. We were not. My dad started working in a factory in a menial job, to make ends meet, to go to school, to save for his brother's and sister's marriage, and to repay the huge debts that my grandfather had taken from people. I remember our family of 10 staying in a 2 room apartment. Those were difficult times, but we never complained. We were happy with what we had, and for the hardwork that my father put in, he climbed the ladder, and is today a respectable general manager of a company. In Nepal and India, Agrawals have a heritage business background, unlike us. The Agrawal tag is what makes me more privileged than i actually am. And this is more upsetting for me. People ask me question on what i do, and when i tell them of what i do, they are bewildered, asking me why i am not doing some business. Well, I dont have an answer. I just tell them i am doing what I love to do.

Anyway Janice, thank you so much for all the encouragement, and kind words. You are lovely.

Dherai Maya
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

I am always intrigued by how people define others, as if your work is any less meaningful because there is no commercial component to it. Your business is helping people and in that you have excelled. Everyone who has come to know you is so proud to be your friend and respects your dedication to bettering the lives of the women in Nepal. Your academic achievements could have taken you anywhere but you chose a path that was not only fulfilling to you but has made a positive impact on so many lives.

I can't wait to see what your future holds and I know that whatever you put your hand to, will be successful. Can't wait to read all about it. Hardik subhakamana, with love,
Janice

Khushbu's picture

YES!

Dear Janice

Your profound faith in me inspires me to move ahead...to overcome barriers and do more....I can never thank you enough for your belief in me...

Dherai dherai dhanyabaad...

Maya
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Khushbu, Today we have

Dear Khushbu,

Today we have seen a new dimension of your life.Being a girl is at times a big disadvantage . You are doing wonderful work . Just don't stop beleiving in yourself.

Love

Nusrat

Dear Nusrat

Through my post, i am not trying to say that being a girl is not a disadvantage for me, it still is, despite my family supporting me, and despite my good college education, and despite my work. Just yesterday, after i came home late after a long and tiring day at office, I could hear remarks from my aunt's relatives, the place i live here in Kathmandu. What i am trying to say is, I have said no to discrimination, I am determined not to let anyone overpower my potentials and my belief. If you remember my earlier posts, i had mentioned how i had to sneak out of my hometown Birgunj to come to Kathmandu to pursue my undergraduate education. My dad didnt approve of me leaving home. So, while he was away, i packed my bags and flew off. So, you see I have struggled to be who I am and what i am doing, and despite all of this, when people tell me that i dont deserve to be in a certain place is kind of sad, and i feel useless.

I am not as privileged as people think i am but i think that really doesnt matter much. I am determined to contribute to the greater good of the society, and i will do this, no matter what others have to say.

Thank you so much for reading

Best regards
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

sunita.basnet's picture

All the best!

Yeah! There is nothign to do with your family background, you have worked so hard to be in this position. All the best with your application.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Khushbu's picture

THank you

Dear Sunita

Thank you for reading. Congratulations to you for all the achievements and the laurels...

Best regards
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

Khusbu,
I like so much your article and appreciate your courage of tackling the issue of international organizations.
My colleagues and relatives agree with you and say that in order to join you must be either of an upper middle class or have a famous family. Period. I did my best to join vainly.
Listen Kushbu, I suggest that you establish your own organization. But don't forget to leave a space to old women from yesterday WP fellows, i will come and join. Smile!

You are a well equipped young lady. Believe me you will have a successful career and brilliant future.

Khushbu's picture

I love you

Dear Halima

I am planning to start up something on my own in the near future. In fact, I have started working on the concept, and insha allah i will start something very soon. Your wishes and blessings will give me the courage to fight against all odds, and help me smile whenever i am down.

I can never forget WP and the space it provides to each woman. WP has changed me and changed my perspective for the good, I am so proud of my existence in this forum. I love each of you, for the love, the inspiration, and the wishes.

To let you know that you made my day!

Love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

Dando's picture

Khushbu!

you are an inspiration, I want you to know that you are a powerful woman. You have actually achieved much more than you think because you have followed your heart. it is sad to learn about your background but your determination and perservance has made you a woman of intergrity. Like Ben Carson wrote, you are an overcome and not a victim of your situation. Better things are coming your way and through your work, am sure you are a role model to young girls. Keep up your passion and all the very best.
with love,

Dando

Khushbu's picture

Thank you

Dear Dando

It is so good to hear from you after such a long absence...How have you been?

Thank you tons for all the appreciation. It feels great to know that my friends here are understanding my perspective. I have never shared such feelings with anyone...but now, when i have written it, it feels good. I dont know about being a role model, but i am trying to do what i can, and support from you means a lot.

Thank you once again!

Lots of love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

SpiraSpera's picture

Equal voices

Kashbu - I love this line: "I believe that revolution comes from understanding, and the realization, and I have just enough not to be blinded by the realities of life." May we all keep our eyes open to the realities of life, so that we may usher in brighter ones, empowering equality for all.

Love your voice!
-S

Khushbu's picture

Yes, we will

Dear S

We all need to keep our eyes open because like everybody else, we need to work towards bringing change. Its great to be connected with you...Looking forward to know you more:)

Love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

pooza11's picture

role model to us

hey. i simply love reading you writing and i do agree with the above mentioned comment that you are simply an role model to young girls; at least for me.
best of luck
Regards,
pooza

Khushbu's picture

Welcome

Hey Pooza

I did not notice you are a part of this forum. Welcome here...Thank you for the appreciation....I am humbled!

Looking forward to read more from you...

Cheers
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

pooza11's picture

Thank you

Thank you for appreciating the appreciation. I just joined this forum today and were searching for friends in this site. fortunately, i found u wid ur amazing article. lucky me !

jadefrank's picture

A leader

Dearest Khushbu,

Your upbringing and your family background do not dictate who you are or devalue the sacrifice and personal accomplishments you have made. Leaders come in all sizes, ages, colors and backgrounds - and you are a leader for the women and girls of Nepal. You are leading the way and this journey is yours, it's the Nepali women you reach out to as well as learn from, and it's ours as a global community of women who are building an unstoppable force of change. Continue to dictate your own journey Khushbu and do not let the judgments of others deter you from reaching your dreams.

Love,
Jade

Khushbu's picture

I will reach for my dreams

Dearest Jade

I certainly wont let anything deter me from reaching my dreams...Yes, I feel low at times because of such remarks and pitfalls, but they are just momentary. Ever since I have joined WorldPulse, my determination has got stronger. I have met amazing women like you from around the globe here, and each of you continue to inspire me. I believe in this power of pulse, and I know that this is a true place for us to provide us the strength to continue...to move..and to conquer!

Thank you so very much for the encouragement..

Love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

lanjana's picture

Great piece

Dear Khushbu,

Your journey and struggle to achieve your dreams has always inspired me in one way or the other. Long way to go dear, these kind of discriminations are in Nepal and at some point in life I also have faced it being a Brahmin and being from Kathmandu but that has never stopped us to move forward and never will. We have learnt to create space for us though initially we were discarded and was not allowed to participate. I was always there with you in every struggle of yours and will be in there in upcoming problems as well and I know it very well what it feels like to stay away from home and with relatives but you have never moved away from your dreams and that is the best part of yours.

Feels great to be part of your journey and wish you get everything that you dream for not because you are my friend but because you deserve it

Love n hugs
Anjana

Khushbu's picture

awwwwwww!!!

Dearest

Thank you for the message honey...It just enlightens everything....You have been a tremendous support and inspiration in my journey here in Kathmandu...you are my first acquaintance in Kathmandu who went on to become one of my best buddies...I will always cherish this <3

We two come from different background and yet are tied with a common thread of coming from families with "elite" surnames which often defines us who we are to the third person, but like you say, we have strived to achieve, and in this quest have created space for ourselves which will not be dictated by our backgrounds!

Thank you deary for all the good words...*blush*

Love
Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

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