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The Stance

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

As so-called grown-ups, most of us build expectations on ourselves filled with presumptions about our parents and friends. In the pursuit of living up to them, we not only forget to live as we wish or should but get carried away doing more than anything needed or expected.

“The Stance” by Gayatri Sharma explores the story of a girl who is filled in such a presumptuous thought-process that it takes her to reach the very end of the ride to realise it was in reality never expected of her.


Resting on the stairs that led to Ganga, Richa recalled how their chest numbers were called. Looking at the unending flow, Richa thought, “Now that you have done what you thought wouldn’t have been possible, do you have the strength to live with it?”

Listening to the water as the sunset, Richa told herself, “You should have told them the moment you lost your passion but you wanted to keep them happy…”

Coming from a family where all men served in the army, it wasn’t easy to follow some other path. For a long time, even Richa dreamed of serving her country but it was during her bachelor’s that she first felt her right knee hurt.

Presuming it might be due to lack of stamina, Richa neglected it for a while before she had to rush to a couple of doctors in order to get it diagnosed. As the pain worsened, the doctors became more clueless. Undergoing arthroscopy to find out the cause of her pain but that didn’t help except for the confirmation that the pain is caused due to the muscle atrophy in her leg and it grew weaker and weaker day by day.

Illustrated by Meet Patel

In this journey to giving up on her defence applications year after year to first cure herself, Richa for once thought if she personally truly wanted to join the defence forces. She questioned if she should really feel sad about not applying and from there she questioned if she truly even wanted to do it. However, before long, she realised that she was living up to others expectations and wasn’t definitely doing it for herself. But she knew giving up without succeeding will make her parents judge her ability to do anything her entire life. Even her mother might give up but her father wouldn’t. So, she made up her mind to get qualified if at all that would happen then she would tell her parents. With this asinine plan instead of standing her ground, Richa continued applying as soon as she recovered and made it to the merit from Allahabad SSB Centre.

Now here she was all by herself thinking how she could get out of this mess. Deep within she knew her foolishness is what brought her down in the first place but now there was nowhere else to go. Tomorrow if her father asked what she would do if not join the army, she honestly didn’t have an answer. All she knew was that this wasn’t for her. It all boiled down to one question, “Do I have the strength to truly tell my father that I don’t want to throw my life away like countless others?” Listening to the evening prayers, she closed her eyes and the next morning, she put her acceptance letter before her father before saying, “I’m done living up to your requirement papa. I will not join the army.” While her mother looked at her as if she was seeing a ghost, Richa continued, “Over the years my perspective to serve has changed. I’m no longer worthy...” Looking at her sternly, her father stood up to tap on her cheek as a faint smile appeared on her face as he said, “As you wish kiddo.” It felt unbelievable to Richa as to what she just heard. She stood there utterly shaken, realising how many presumptions she fed herself about a man who never said a word about wanting her to serve. She even thought he would claim it to be betrayal but in reality, she was always free to do what she wished for. There was never a need to live up or act a certain way.





Meet Patel was awarded the Best Illustrator of 2021 for this contribution.



This contribution is edited by R. K. Chamarla & Sreekar Ayyagari & illustrated by Meet Patel.



This anthology is available in paperback & ebook.

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