December 2, 2022

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Essay: Highway Women by Vartika Sharma Lekhak

2 min read

Vartika Sharma Lekhak’s essay highlights the other not much talked about issues people (especially women) faced during the lockdown. The lock-down guidelines impacted women most as only personal vehicles were allowed and most of the women, lacking driving skills, had to rely on their escorts. 

In the evening father phoned and informed Ma. I had a kind of premonition about it, especially when he didn’t ask about Khushi and came straight to the point. 

‘What will I do without her Rujju? She is not going to make it.’ He broke down. 

How could I be so ignorant? I cursed myself. 

For the last one month, my mother has been bedridden. She had told Dad not to alarm me and Sachi. How will girls travel in such a condition, she must have instructed him in that don’t-you-dare-cross-me tone. Still, I should have foreseen their condition. When the whole world was struggling with the hardships of Pandemic, how could I pretend not to sense it!

Thankfully it was not corona. But for people overly dependent on caregivers, the virus was the least of the worries.


I spent the night imagining different scenarios. Car breaking down. I dozed off in the driver’s seat or took the wrong turn. But scariest of all was the situation where we are……… 

I can’t even put that in words. Instinctively my hand searched for Khushi, my little daughter who was sleeping blissfully next to me. I kissed the soft arms and pulled her closer. She made a woozy noise.

The next day Hari called. He had sensed my restlessness from miles away. 

‘Rujuta you are a tigress. Don’t worry, you can do it.’ 

‘But won’t that be irresponsible Hari? If something happens to Khushi? You know how unsafe the roads are for women.’

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